The World Trade Center proudly opens Louisiana International Trade Week, which runs from Nov. 5 through Nov. 8. This year we celebrate two 75-year milestones in international trade.
First, in 1944, with the end of World War II in sight, 730 delegates representing 44 countries huddled in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to forge an international consensus on trade, monetary and exchange rules. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was the key outcome on trade, with fundamental principles of economic non-discrimination guiding decades of unprecedented global growth, ultimately leading to the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1994. While the past 75 years of international trade have not been perfect, the GATT/WTO system has provided security and predictability for global economies once dominated by agricultural and industrial trade, and now moving to service-based economies filled with digital promise.
Our second 75-year milestone started right here in the Crescent City. As John Maynard Keynes from Britain and Harry Dexter White of America were forging new international economic policies in New Hampshire, local leaders William Zetzmann, Sr., Rudolph Hecht and E.O. “Archie” Jewell established the International House, and later the International Trade Mart, as institutional vehicles to capture and consolidate post-World War II international commerce in Louisiana.
Leaders of these formative institutions included Alton Ochsner, M.D., John P. Laborde, Basil Rusovich, James J. Coleman, Sr., C. Alvin Bertel, Jr., Hale Boggs, and many other visionaries. The successes of these institutions lead to their merger and creation of the World Trade Center. New Orleans hosted the first regular conference of the World Trade Centers Association in 1968. The World Trade Center has been admirably led by the Honorable Thomas B. Coleman, Frank B. Stewart, Jr., Ambassador Donald Ensenat, John L. Ochsner, M.D., Honorable Patricia Denechaud, Honorable Donna Fraiche, and many other luminaries dedicated to the promotion of international trade, diplomacy and peace throughout Louisiana.
As we memorialize 75 years of global and local trade, our World Trade Center honors Louisiana’s ongoing role supporting international economic growth. With you, our valued clients and business partners, we celebrate Louisiana’s multibillion-dollar LNG development projects, record-breaking cargo volumes and expanding port activities, US-leading manufacturing productivity, and export-lead agricultural growth. Louisiana’s World Trade Center is driven by a passion for and dedication to trade. Today’s economic climate faces important systemic challenges deserving the same passion and dedication given in Bretton Woods and New Orleans 75 years ago.
On behalf of the World Trade Center Board of Directors and leadership, we pledge our continuing efforts to ensure that Louisiana maintains and grows its rightful position at the forefront of the new international trade economy.
Edward T. Hayes
chair emeritus, board of directors
Thomas P. Spiers
chair, board of directors
J. Edwin Webb
chief executive officer