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United States: Public Uneasy About Involvement In Global Economy

Washington, 18 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin says there is "great unease in the American public" about involvement in the international financial organizations and even in the global economy.

Speaking to a private group of prominent Americans supporting the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Rubin said there is a "large segment" of the United States public "that still believes the international financial institutions and trade agreements don't work in their interests."

Rubin pointed to what he said was strong U.S. congressional opposition to funding for the IMF and World Bank in addition to growing resistance to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as signs of the problem.

Rubin said American leaders know these isolationist views are "simply not so, but we ignore these views at our peril." He said one of the great lessons of the 20th century is that withdrawal from international affairs "cannot work." He said it is up to the public and private business leaders of the country to educate the public about the value of the global economy and the international institutions.

The United States is the only major nation with arrears owed to the World Bank -- over $234 million owed to the bank arm which helps the poorest nations, the International Development Association (IDA) . Rubin warned that this could lead to other countries pulling back their contributions.