For­mer WTO leader and New Zealand pre­mier Mike Moore dies

Antelope Valley Press - - WEATHER / OBITUARIES -

WELLING­TON, New Zealand (AP) — Mike Moore, who served as New Zealand’s Prime Min­is­ter be­fore lead­ing the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion dur­ing a tu­mul­tuous time when thou­sands protested in Seat­tle ri­ots, died early Sun­day. He was 71.

He died at his home in Auck­land, his wife Yvonne Moore said. He’d suf­fered a num­ber of health com­pli­ca­tions since hav­ing a stroke five years ago.

Moore was an ad­vo­cate for both ad­vanc­ing the rights of blue-col­lar work­ers and for ex­pand­ing in­ter­na­tional trade, a com­bi­na­tion which, to some, seemed at odds with it­self. Al­though he had a long po­lit­i­cal ca­reer in New Zealand, Moore’s ten­ure as prime min­is­ter was brief: just two months in 1990 be­fore he was de­feated in an elec­tion.

He served as the third di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the

WTO from 1999 un­til 2002, over­see­ing an ex­pan­sion in the or­ga­ni­za­tion in­clud­ing China’s en­try into the rules-based trad­ing sys­tem. He later served five years as New Zealand’s am­bas­sador to the U.S.

Prime Min­is­ter Jacinda Ardern said Moore had ded­i­cated his life to help­ing the coun­try.

“The world lost a man with a huge in­tel­lect, and huge heart to­day,” Ardern said.

Yvonne Moore said Moore had an abil­ity to con­nect with peo­ple from all walks of life af­ter he left school at age 15 to take a job at a slaugh­ter­house.

“He was stub­born, op­ti­mistic, gen­er­ous and kind,” she said in a state­ment.

Moore be­lieved his love of read­ing and hard work would over­come his lack of for­mal ed­u­ca­tion, his widow said. By age 16 he’d joined the lib­eral Labour Party and at age 23 be­came New Zealand’s youngest serv­ing politi­cian. He lost his seat in the fol­low­ing elec­tion but was re­elected in 1978.

He be­came known as a fighter for work­ers’ rights and for or­di­nary New Zealan­ders. He held a num­ber of port­fo­lios be­fore his brief ten­ure as prime min­is­ter. Af­ter his elec­tion de­feat in 1990, he be­came op­po­si­tion leader for three years be­fore He­len Clark took over the role.

When Moore be­came di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the WTO in 1999 it was the high­est in­ter­na­tional role ever held by a New Zealan­der.

He be­lieved that ex­pand­ing in­ter­na­tional trade would ben­e­fit peo­ple around the world, but many peo­ple were be­com­ing wor­ried that trade lib­er­al­iza­tion was de­grad­ing con­di­tions for work­ers and cre­at­ing other prob­lems.

The “Bat­tle in Seat­tle” in 1999 over­shad­owed Moore’s ten­ure at the WTO. Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple took to the streets to protest WTO meet­ings in the city. Well-or­ga­nized protest lead­ers man­aged to tem­po­rar­ily shut down some meet­ings and Seat­tle de­clared a state of emer­gency, with po­lice us­ing tear gas and pep­per spray against the crowds.

“Never be­fore had open trade within a rules-based sys­tem done so much to lift liv­ing stan­dards and in­crease op­por­tu­nity; yet never be­fore had the per­sis­tence of poverty and ex­clu­sion been so glar­ing,” Moore later said. “In Seat­tle, the in­ter­sec­tion of these in­ter­ests be­came the site of a ma­jor pile-up, a col­li­sion, a clash of pri­or­i­ties and im­per­a­tives.”

Moore was known for his wit: “Much has been writ­ten about Seat­tle,” he would say. “Some of it is even true.”

Moore es­ti­mated that the Seat­tle ri­ots set back the rise in global trade by a cou­ple of years. Oth­ers said it was a decade. And the ar­gu­ments about the ben­e­fits and drawbacks of global trade con­tinue to­day, as ev­i­denced by ten­sions be­tween the U.S. and China, Europe and Bri­tain.


In this Nov. 23, 1999 file photo, World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s (WTO) Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Mike Moore, of New Zealand, opens a WTO coun­cil meet­ing in Geneva, Switzer­land.

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