November 18, 2003
1. FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas)
Unlikely wide trade gulfs can be bridged: Canada has hope, National Post, by Peper Morton, November 18, 2003
Even the most optimistic of trade ministers are not holding out much hope the wide gulfs that exist can be narrowed to meet the January, 2005, deadline of creating a Free Trade Agreement of the Americas.
FTAA TALKS BEGIN IN MIAMI
Americas trade zone talks begin, BBC News, November 17, 2003
Talks have begun in Miami between 34 of the 35 countries in the Americas to try to finalise a massive free trade zone. The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) would include 800 million people with an output of $14 trillion a year. But the talks hit an early snag as some countries objected to a deal between joint chairs Brazil and the US. The two, who have been at loggerheads, decided to settle their differences by letting individual states pick and choose among some parts of the deal. That goes against what many of the other countries in Miami for the talks want: a comprehensive deal dropping tariffs and trade barriers across the twin continents. But the menu approach the chairs are suggesting may be the only way they can resolve the deep divergence between them.
Americas farmers, not to mention powerful voices in the unions, want to limit the agreements scope, and the White House of President George W Bush is reluctant to push with an election due in less than a year.
****STOP THE FTAA!
March Convergence in Miami - 7AM, Thursday, Nov. 20
Converge at Government Center Park, NW 1st Street and 2nd Ave. Brief rally at the park and then mass march to the fence. Unite with people from all walks of life to take creative, non-violent direct actions to STOP THE FTAA!
US, BRAZIL HOLD KEY TO FTAAs OUTCOME
South Florida Business Journal, by Paola Iuspa-Abbott, November 17, 2003
The two largest economies in Americas must come back to the negotiating table before the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) can be completed by the self-imposed deadline of January 2005 .But there are opposing opinions about agricultural subsidies, one of the many controversial issues that must be resolved for the creation of the trade zone. Those subsidies are at the root of the contention between the United States and Brazil .Brazil said if you cant do anything for us in the agricultural field, then, we cant do anything for you on intellectual property rights, services and government procurement, he said.
NGOs, BUSINESS DECRY FLEXIBLE FTAA
IPS, by Emad Mekay, November 17, 2003
Civil society opponents and corporate boosters of a proposed Americas free trade deal found themselves on the same side Monday against a U.S.-Brazil proposal to compartmentalise the agreement. The plan, revealed at Sunday night talks between trade officials that ended prematurely in failure, would let the 34 nations of the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) opt in and out of its particular provisions. There is an agreement between Mercosur and the United States on this vision of the FTAA that will allow flexibility in certain areas and that countries will be allowed to be engaged in plurilateral agreements, so that an FTAA will not impose on the 34 countries the same obligations, Brazilian diplomat and FTAA negotiator Luiz Filipe de Macedo Soares told IPS .It doesnt offer a solution that will promote development and poverty reduction for the 220 million people in poverty in the hemisphere, said Phil Bloomer, who heads the trade campaign for international charity group Oxfam.
US MOVES TO SQUEEZE FTAA OPPONENTS
Inter Press Service, by Emad Mekay, November 17, 2003 by the
The United States might be trying to re-write its strategy towards a threatened trade deal in the Americas by adding more pressure tactics to its old technique of doling out economic benefits to Latin American countries .The United States now appears more aggressive and threatening as it seeks to isolate the opposing camp in Latin America by forging bilateral trade agreements. Last week, Peru said that U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Zoellick would announce in Miami the start of bilateral free-trade talks between the two countries, while Colombia also said it will announce similar talks with Washington soon.
US UNLIKELY TO ACHIEVE ITS FTAA OBJECTIVE IN MIAMI
Interhemispheric Resource Center (IRC), Americas Program, by Laura Carlsen, November 14, 2003
The WTO impasse ups the ante for the FTAA meeting. Subsequent talks have sharpened differences of opinion on the model of integration needed in the Western Hemisphere. The U.S. negotiating team, led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, has shown little willingness to compromise in the interim. Zoellick has announced that the issues lost in Cancun will be aggressively pursued in the FTAA. These include a strong push for access to developing country markets and strict supra-national rules on government procurement, investment, and extending intellectual property protections.
CANADA PROTESTS US-BRAZIL DEAL
Miami trade talks hit snag as Canada and Chile protest U.S.-Brazil deal, AP, by John Pain, November 17, 2003
Canada and Chile complained about a deal reached by Brazil and the United States that was aimed at making the talks smoother .Canada and Chile countered that all countries should follow every clause, according to an official with the Brazilian delegation who spoke on condition of anonymity.
CANADAS OBJECTIVES FOR MIAMI
PETTIGREW TO PARTICIPATE IN FTAA MINISTERIAL MEETING IN MIAMI, DFAIT Press Release, November 10, 2003
Canadas objectives for the FTAA ministerial meeting in Miami are to: reaffirm the January 2005 deadline for a comprehensive, high-quality agreement; build consensus to make public the third version of the draft negotiating text; and pursue linkages between the FTAA process and elements of the broader Summit agenda, including labour and environment. On November 19 in Miami, Minister Pettigrew will also attend the Americas Business Forum as well as the Americas Trade and Sustainable Development Forum in order to engage in dialogue with private sector and civil society representatives from Canada and the rest of the hemisphere.
FTAA NOT A PRIORITY - ARGENTINE OFFICIALS
The Miami Herald, by ALEJANDRO LANDES, November 18, 2003
According to Argentine trade representatives, the signing of an FTAA accord is not a life-or-death issue for the country. We are negotiating seven trade agreements right now, and the FTAA is not the most important one, said Argentine Secretary of Trade Martín Redrado on Monday in an interview with the Argentine daily Clarín. We prefer a bilateral stance. That way we can best gauge what we concede and what we get from North America, said Redrado, referring to Argentinas decision to negotiate with the United States as part of the Mercosur trading bloc together with Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil.
MEXICO AND MERCOSUR TO BEGIN FREE TRADE TALKS
Fox Says Mexico Set to Begin Talks on Trade Pact With Mercosur, Bloomberg, Novemebr 15, 2003
Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) Mexican President Vicente Fox said his country is set to begin trade talks with members of Mercosur to reach an agreement with the South American trade bloc. ``Were in agreement to begin negotiating, holding dialogue and advancing on this Mercosur-Mexico accord, Fox said in a transcribed version of a press conference in Bolivia. Certainly, we will soon have it. The Mercosur comprises Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Fox signed a trade agreement between Mexico and Uruguay today during the 13th Iberoamerican Summit in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. Mexico is also holding advanced negotiations on a trade agreement with Argentina.
JEB BUSH KICKS OF FTAA BUSINESS FORUM
Governor says trade talks illustrate Miamis `privileged role, The Miami Herald, by CHRISTINA HOAG, November 17, 2003
Gov. Jeb Bush kicked off the Americas Business Forum this morning, saying that this weeks free trade talks are a continuation of Miamis privileged role in the development of tariff-free commerce in the Western Hemisphere.
ANNAN TELLS LATIN AMERICA TO DIRECT MORE SPENDING TOWARDS POOR
UN News, November 14, 2003
Public spending should be more firmly directed to the poor and corruption should be curbed, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan told a meeting of Iberian and Latin American leaders in Bolivia today.
2. NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
International trade key to Canadas prosperity, says Bank of Canadas Dodge, Canadian Press, November 17, 2003
Canada has focused too much attention for too long on trade with the United States and now must look beyond North America for future prosperity, says David Dodge, governor of the Bank of Canada .The time is now. . .to make the next step and invest overseas - Asia, South America and even, in time, Africa, said the central bank governor.
10-YEAR REVIEW OF NAFTA SIDE ACCORD: PUBLIC CONSULTATION
Call for public comments: Ten-year Review of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, CEC Press Release, November 16, 2003
An independent Ten-year Review and Assessment Committee (TRAC) is undertaking an examination of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation. TRAC will produce a report that will review the implementation of the NAAEC and provide an assessment of the impacts of the various programs of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC).
NAFTA COMMISSION LINKS CHILD HEALTH PROBLEMS TO BORDER TRAFFIC
Study supports improvements to Mexican air quality standards: International truck traffic at border cited, CEC Press Release, November 10, 2003
A new study released today by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) suggests that children in the border town of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, are being hospitalized and dying because of air pollution at levels that are below Mexicos current health standards.
NAFTA MINISTERS MEET TO DISCUSS PROGRESS ON LABOUR
North American Labour Ministers Meet to Discuss Progress on NAFTA Labour Commission, Office of the Minister of Labour Press Release, November 14, 2003 The Secretaries of Labour of the United States, Mexico and Canadas Minister of Labour held their Seventh Ministerial Meeting yesterday to acknowledge the substantially increased cooperation that has taken place in the area of workers rights since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed ten years ago. U.S. Secretary of Labour Elaine L. Chao hosted the event at the Department of Labour .Each country will solicit public views on the process and efficiency of the NAALC [the labour side-accord]. The countries will also share their findings with each other. A final report will be made available to the public in 2004.
3. WTO (World Trade Organisation
Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest, November 13, 2003
Informal consultations on the Singapore issues investment, competition, transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation continue to play out at the Heads of Delegation (HOD) level at the WTO. According to delegates, General Council (GC) Chair Carlos Perez del Castillo has been meeting with delegations in smaller groups, holding a Green Room-style meeting on 12 November with 36 delegations. Little substance has yet emerged from these consultations, though Chair Perez del Castillo has proposed new formulas for progressing the talks.
US, EU TO STUDY CREATION OF SINGLE MARKET
US, EU to study new trade deal, The Guardian, November 17, 2003
A $100 billion plan to create a single market between Europe and the US will be unveiled this week as part of a British government effort to show that having a close relationship with America is worth jobs and money. Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister), will announce an independent inquiry into removing all trade barriers between the US, Britain the rest of the EU. Officials hope the deal will put the row over steel tariffs into context, by saying that difficulties over specific areas pale into insignificance against the wider need to stay close to the US economically.
US DOWNPLAYS THREAT OF STEEL WAR WITH EUROPE
Reuters, November 18, 2003
United States Treasury Secretary John Snow today dismissed concern that anger at US steel import tariffs could spark a trade war with Europe and said the Bush administration was still mulling whether to drop the tariffs. I think the prospect of some significant eruption here or of a trade war is really quite remote, Snow told reporters after meetings with businessmen and regulators in London. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) recently ruled that US steel import tariffs imposed in March 2002 were illegal, and the European Union said that unless they were lifted it would impose its own penalties on US$2.2 billion ($3.53 billion) of US goods.
INDUSTRIES CAUGHT IN US-EU TRADE FIGHT
ASSOCIATED PRESS, by MARTIN CRUTSINGER, November 17, 2003
Florida citrus growers could soon be squeezed, Louisiana rice farmers boiled, California nut producers shelled and North Carolina pajama-makers fleeced. They would be just a few of the victims caught in the crossfire of an increasingly bitter trade fight between the European Union and the United States over steel. Free-traders fear the biggest victim of all could be Americas half-century of support for expanding global commerce. In this situation you could trigger a perfect storm of unintended but very serious consequences, says Fred Bergsten, head of the Institute for International Economics, a Washington think tank.
US ANNOUNCES IMPOSITION OF QUOTAS ON CHINESE TEXTILE PRODUCTS
The Associated Press, November 18, 2003 The Bush administration, in a further escalation of trade tensions between the United States and China, announced Tuesday it had decided to impose quotas on three types of textile products in an effort to give the U.S. textile industry temporary breathing room from a flood of Chinese imports. The decision will affect Chinese imports of knit fabric, dressing gowns and robes and bras.
US TO CHINA - PATIENCE WEARING THIN
World trade-offs: U.S. facing tug of war over tariffs, by Paul Blustein, The Washington Post, November 18, 2003
Bush administration officials recently warned China that it had better open its market in accord with its obligations under the World Trade Organization. Our patience is wearing thin, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans admonished Chinese policymakers .To force others to play by the rules, the United States has to play by them, too, and to induce others to open their markets, it has to dismantle protection for some of its most politically sensitive sectors. For Bush, that translates into a dilemma as he heads into his re-election campaign.
BUSHS TRADE THICKET GETS THORNIER WITH TEXTILE DECISION DUE
Cox News Service, by Marilyn Geewax, November 16, 2003
President Bush faces a tough choice Monday on whether to grant requests by the textile and apparel industries to limit Chinese imports one more thread in what has become a knotty snarl of trade issues for Bush. The presidents re-election hopes could hang on how he unravels them, particularly the intertwined questions of textile quotas and U.S. tariffs on imported steel .The textile industry sees import protection as literally a life-or-death issue. Since Bush took office in January 2001, more than 318,000 textile and apparel jobs have disappeared .One of the strangest aspects of the textile issue is how ladies lingerie has gotten tangled up with steel.
4. GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)
Reuters, November 18, 2003
The European Union will allow a genetically modified food product to go on sale next month in a move which will end the de facto five-year ban on new GM products, the Observer has reported. ÊThere will be a development next month that will go some way to diffuse tension between the United States and Europe on GM food, the newspaper quoted a senior EU trade source as saying. The EU executive will take its first vote on a new GM product for five years in December when it decides whether or not to approve Bt-11 maize, marketed by Swiss agrochemicals giant Syngenta.
FAO: AFRICA NEEDS WATER MORE THAN GMOs
EurActiv, November 13, 2003
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has emphasised that water, not biotechnology, must be the priority in the fight against food shortages in Africa.
VATICAN TO WEIGH INTO GMO DEBATE
African Priests Criticize Vatican GMO Conference, EurActiv, November 12, 2003
Organizers of an international Vatican seminar on genetically modified foods came under fire from their own yesterday when priests from Africa said it should have included more Church members critical of the crops. The development seminar, attended by experts from the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa, was meant to help the Vatican decide whether GMOs (genetically modified organisms) will get its backing - a decision that could affect the views of millions of Catholics.
LAWSUIT LAUNCHED OVER OPEN-AIR BIOTECH TESTING
Lawsuit Challenges Open-Air Testing of Genetically Engineered Biopharm Crops USDA Not Adequately Protecting Food Supply, EarthJustice (and others) Press Release, November 12, 2003
Attorneys with Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety filed suit in federal district court in Honolulu today asking the court to order the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to assess the environmental and public health risks of, and better regulate, the open-air testing of biopharmaceutical test crops in Hawaii and throughout the United States .Well over 4,000 field tests of genetically engineered crops have been conducted in Hawaii, more than anywhere else in the world, including more than two dozen tests of biopharm crops .USDA allows these tests to be conducted in open fields, conceals the trials locations from the public, and in most cases refuses to disclose the substances being grown.
5. IMF (International Monetary Fund)
IMF is Not Democratic - Zimbabwean High Commissioner Mathema, The Post (Lusaka), by Larry Moonze, November 17, 2003
THE IMF and World Bank are not democratically run institutions, charged Zimbabwean High Commissioner to Zambia Cain Mathema yesterday. Commenting on British High Commissioner to Zambia Tim Davids warning that Zambias economic situation may deteriorate further unless the country gets back on track with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), High Commissioner Mathema said while Zambia had the right to decide which economic path to follow Africa was yet to see the benefits of IMF policies apart from exposing its resources to Anglo-American companies.
AFRICA ACTIVISTS TELL IMF, WTO TO PACK AND GO
Pack and Go!, by Miles Larmer, November 14, 2003
The first ever Southern Africa Social Forum (SASF) took place in Lusaka, Zambia on 9-11 November 2003, bringing together over 400 activists from social movements, trade unions, NGOs, churches, womens organisations and other groups .Representing many of the countries that have suffered most from the impact of neo-liberal economic policies imposed by the International Financial Institutions (IFIs), the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, SASF agreed that both organisations, together with the World Trade Organisation, had no useful role to play in their countries and should Pack up and go.
Going Backwards At Meetings, U.S. to Seek Support for Broad Ozone Exemptions, the New York Times, by Andrew C Revkin, November 10, 2003
The two-decade effort to eliminate chemicals that harm the ozone layer faces its most serious test in recent years this week as the Bush administration seeks international support for broad exemptions to a 2005 ban on a popular pesticide. But many countries, environmental groups and scientists say the proposed exemptions would reverse steady progress in healing the ozone layer, would discourage farmers from shifting to safer products and would encourage poorer countries to seek new loopholes or delays.
OZONE DEPLETING CHEMICAL CONSIDERED
UN green meeting agrees to defer decision on pesticide exemption, UN News, November 14, 2003
At a meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, held at UNEPs Nairobi headquarters, delegates discussed the scheduled phasing out by January 2005 of methyl bromide, which depletes the worlds ozone layer.
North American and European farmers, especially in the strawberry, melon, pepper and tomato growing industries, have argued for an exemption allowing about 15,000 tons of methyl bromide to be consumed in 2005, according to UNEP. They say the available alternatives are not yet technically or economically feasible for use.
EU AND US TO CLASH OVER PHASE-OUT OF METHYL BROMIDE
EurActiv, November 10, 2003
A new environmental conflict between the US and the EU is looming over the 15th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP-15) held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 10-14 November 2003 .One of the most contentious issues on the agenda is the phase-out of the pesticide methyl bromide. Over the years, the signatories of the Protocol have agreed that the production and importation of methyl bromide should be gradually scaled down and that the pesticide should be banned completely from 2005 (developing countries have ten more years to implement the ban).
ANNAN CALLS FOR EXPANDED LAWS AGAINST ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE IN WAR
UN News, November 6, 2003
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called today for tougher international laws to protect the environment in times of armed conflict. In a message to mark the observance of the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, the Secretary-General said, I urge the international community to examine how legal and other mechanisms can be strengthened to encourage environmental protection in wartime. Ensuring environmental sustainability is not a luxury; it is a prerequisite for the future peace and prosperity of our planet.
EU ENVIRONMENTAL DIPLOMACY PRIORITIES
EU builds green diplomacy network, EurActiv, November 14, 2003
During the Thessaloniki European Council in June 2003, Heads of State and Government agreed to establish a green diplomacy network. The network aims to leverage the worldwide diplomatic resources (foreign ministries, embassies, development co-operation agencies) of the enlarged EU to promote the EUs vision on sustainable development and the environment. The green diplomacy networks working programme sets out five main priorities: persuading Russia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol
US ENERGY BILL WOULD PROTECT MTBE MAKERS FROM LAWSUITS
Reuters, November 18, 2003
A Republican-written draft energy bill released on Saturday would shield U.S. makers of the fuel additive MTBE from product liability lawsuits beginning on Sept. 5, 2003, a month earlier than industry lobbyists had expected. MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, is a suspected carcinogen that has contaminated underground water supplies in many cities in California and other states. It competes with corn-based ethanol, which has wide support among Midwestern lawmakers and the Bush administration.
UN ACCORD CONSIDERS ASBESTOS AND NEW PESTICIDES
UN-backed accord on hazardous chemicals considers adding all forms of asbestos
UN News, November 17, 2003
A United Nations-backed convention on hazardous chemicals is set to decide this week whether all forms of asbestos and two hazardous pesticides should be added to an international list of chemicals that are not to be exported unless the importing country explicitly agrees. In 2001, the Interim Chemical Review Committee (ICRC) of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade recommended that the five remaining forms of asbestos Ð amosite, actinolite, anthophyllite, tremolite and chrysotile Ð be added to the interim PIC list. One Ð crocidolite Ð is already listed.
CLIMATE CHANGE THREATENS MONARCH
Climate Change Threatens Butterflys 2,000-Mile Migration, the lndependent/UK, by Steve Connor, November 11, 2003
The unique life cycle of the monarch butterfly - which migrates more than 2,000 miles to its wintering grounds - could come to an end within 50 years, according to a study published yesterday.
CANADAS 2003 REPORT ON PARTICULATE MATTER AND OZONE
Environment Canada Report
Clean Air in Canada, 2003 Progress Report on Particulate Matter and Ozone
Message from the Minister [excerpt]
The Government of Canada has made significant progress since 2000 in addressing clean air, including cooperation and undertaking joint projects with the United States under the Canada-U.S. Air Quality Agreement, working with provinces to implement the Canada-wide Standards, and meeting our commitments made in the 10-year regulatory agenda to reduce pollution from all vehicles and engines, and from the fuels that power them.
Trade deal not be-all and end-all: US, AAP, November 18, 2003
United States, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker denied that the United States required New Zealand to re-examine its anti-nuclear stance, which prevents visits by American warships .Mr Reeker said Mr Swindells made it clear that a free trade agreement was not on the table yet .Mr Reeker conceded that after the breakdown of World Trade Organisation talks in Cancun, Mexico, the United States was dealing with individual countries on a one-at-a-time thing and were just not at that point with New Zealand.
UN ENVOY SLAMS SECURITY LEGISLATION
Security legislation can perpetuate emergencies, UN human rights envoy says, UN News, November 13, 2003
Security legislation and other departures from the normal legal regime are perpetuating emergencies by isolating those people best placed to end the emergencies, the United Nations envoy charged with protecting human rights defenders said today. Hina Jilani, the Special Representative of Secretary General Kofi Annan for Human Rights Defenders, presented her report to the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee earlier this week. In that report, she said security legislation and emergencies are used as a smokescreen to allow dereliction from human rights obligations and persecution of defenders. These acts harm the genuine struggle to prevent and end terrorism.
AFRICAN ENERGY RESOURCES NEEDED TO SECURE US SUPPLY: SHELL
Africas Sustainable Development - A Moral Business Imperative And Important To U.S. Energy Supply, Royal Dutch/Shell Group (London) Press Release, November 14, 2003
Supporting sustainable African development is not just a moral imperative for business, but important for safeguarding exports of secure energy supplies for the U.S., said Sir Philip Watts, Chairman of the Committee of Managing Directors of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies, speaking here today at an event sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
LONDON POLICE PREPARE FOR BUSH VISIT
London Police Prepare for Bush Visit; Anti-War Protests Planned, VOA News, November 17, 2003
Police in London are undertaking unprecedented security measures as U.S. President George Bush prepares to travel to Britain, while protesters promise widespread demonstrations. British officials estimate security surrounding President Bushs four-day trip, which begins Tuesday, will cost about $9 million. At least 5,000 police will be deployed.
TANZANIAN GOVERNMENT BANS TRADE IN SECOND-HAND UNDERPANTS
African Church Info Service, November 17, 2003 The Tanzanian government has imposed a total ban on the importation of second-hand innerwear. The move, okayed by parliament sitting in the capital city of Dodoma, appears to have been influenced more by dignity than health concerns.
Sierra Club of Canada has an active programme on Trade and the Environment. SCC has challenged Chapter 11 through the courts on the S.D.Myers case, played an integral role in the fight against the MAI and works in coalition with the Common Front on the WTO, Common Frontiers and the Canadian Alliance on Trade and the Environment.