As protesters battled the police in the streets of Seattle in 1999, calling on the World Trade Organization to include environmental and labor issues in its trade negotiations, government representatives in conference rooms were carrying on a battle of another sort. Many developing nations, particularly the Asian countries, were strongly resisting a U.S.-led proposal by developed countries to link trade to environmental and labor standards through a new "social clause" in WTO agreements. The clause, its opponents argued, was a protectionist ploy that rich nations would use to shelter their own workers' jobs from the competition in developing countries.

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