December 18, 2003
1. WTO (World Trade Organisation)
The Star, by MARTIN KHOR IN GENEVA, December 18, 2003
THE World Trade Organisation ended its special follow-up meeting to the failed Cancun Ministerial Conference without any breakthrough, thus confirming doubts whether there can be any progress in talks next year. General Council chairman Carlos Perez del Castillo admitted at the closing that the two-day meeting had produced no major breakthrough, with delegations not saying anything new, and positions among members still wide apart.
MEMBERS DECIDE ON WAY FORWARD IN DOHA ROUND *Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest,
December 17, 2003 WTO Members met from 15-16 December in the last General Council (GC) session of the year. WTO ambassadors devoted most of the session to follow-up to Septembers Cancun Ministerial, ultimately agreeing to reactivate the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) and the negotiating bodies under it. The mood of the meeting was reportedly positive. While the outcome of the meeting was limited and focused on procedure rather than substance, no one had expected more.
The G-20 group of developing countries met in Brasilia from 11-12 December, and were joined by both WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi and EC Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy. Focussing on the issue of farm talks, Supachai urged flexibility from all sides .While the meeting gave a symbolic boost to the Doha round and the relations between the G-20 and the EC, no substantive results or concrete compromises were reached.
2. GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)
December 12, 2003, Reuters
A U.N. conference agreed on Tuesday to permit use of genetically modified trees in forests planted to offset global warming, clearing a final hurdle to the Kyoto protocol whose fate now hinges on Russia.
CANADIANS WANT LABELLING FOR GMO: POLL
Coming to grips with GM: New poll shows overwhelming number of Canadians want mandatory identification on genetically modified food, The Calgary Herald, by Michelle Lang and Aideen McCormick, December 4, 2003 Most Canadians want to know if they are munching on genetically modified ingredients when they sit down to dinner or take a bite out of a granola bar, according to a new study. A Consumers Association of Canada poll, released in Calgary Wednesday, found 91 per cent of people want labels on foods that contain GM materials. The survey found 88 per cent of respondents want Ottawa to make GM food labels mandatory. Labelling is currently voluntary .The Canadian government is poised to introduce standards for GM labels, although they will remain voluntary.
EU MEMBER STATES DIVIDED OVER GM FOOD BAN
EurActiv, December 8, 2003
The EU regulatory committee on 8 December failed to reach a decision on whether to allow the import of a new GMO variety (Bt-11) into the EU. A positive decision would have ended the five year moratorium on GMO products .The vote was seen as a test case for the EUs longstanding de facto moratorium on GMO products. As the committee did not reach a decision, the Commission will adopt a new proposal, which will be sent to the Council for a decision probably in January. A qualified majority will again be needed to adopt or reject the proposal. Should there be no Council decision after the three month deadline, the file can then be adopted by the Commission. Even if authorisation were granted, imports could not start until April, when the new legislation on the labelling of GM products will come into force.
3. IMF (International Monetary Fund) & The World Bank
Can economic growth go with environmental sustainability? (Re Impending release of Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting 2003), IMF Survey, December 15, 2003
In many countries, poverty and environmental problems are mutually reinforcing. The only way to break this vicious cycle is to promote sustainable economic growth, which is one of the IMFs core objectives .IMF developed an extended public sector balance sheet [for Equador], which shows the standard assets and liabilities but also includes all oil and gas reserves, as well as very preliminary proxies for protected forest lands and biodiversity in both plants and animals. The resulting data, which go back to 1970, indicate that Ecuadors net worth has been declining steadily over the years. Essentially, it has been selling the silverware
IMF, WORLD BANK ERODING OUR COMMON UNION RIGHTS, UNIONISTS
Vanguard (Lagos), December 18, 2003 Trade unions in Nigeria as in other Commonwealth countries have had to contend with anti- people economic policies and each time government reaches an agreement with the IMF/ World Bank, the tendency is for government to restrict trade union rights. Well continue to hold the banner of struggle and defend the rights of our members.
MEXICO LAGS BEHIND DESPITE NAFTA: WORLD BANK
Mexico lags behind Canada, United States despite NAFTA, study finds, AP, December 18, 2003 Ten years of the North American Free Trade Agreement have spurred economic development in Mexico, but the country hasnt caught up with its partners, the United States and Canada, the World Bank said Wednesday .The main lesson of the study, its authors said, is that a free trade agreement is not a substitute for a development strategy, but is a single element in a broader development framework.
The World Bank study available at:
4. FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas)/ CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement)/ NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
Globe & Mail, bySTEVEN CHASE, BARRIE McKENNA, December 17, 2003
New International Trade Minister Jim Peterson isnt giving up on a controversial proposal to end the long-standing Canada-U.S. softwood dispute, calling on the Canadian industry and provinces yesterday to take one last kick at the can before rejecting the deal . His comments come as Canadas legal efforts to quash the painful lumber duties suffered another setback. The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) yesterday flatly rejected a North American free-trade agreement panels ruling that Washington had blundered badly when it sanctioned the steep duties on Canadian softwood lumber.
Mr. Peterson said hes willing to accept a rejection of the deal and keep fighting the softwood battle in the courts so long as producers and provinces have made all efforts to determine whether they can reach an amicable settlement based on the U.S. proposal.
CADANIAN RESPONSE TO U.S. RULING
CANADA REGRETS NEW U.S. SOFTWOOD INJURY DETERMINATION, DFAIT Press Release, December 16, 2003
The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) has issued a new determination once again asserting that Canadian softwood lumber exports threatened to injure the United States softwood lumber industry. We regret that the ITC has come back with a determination that maintains its threat of injury finding, said International Trade Minister Jim Peterson. Canada does not agree with this determination. In September, a NAFTA dispute settlement panel ruled that the ITCs previous determination was unsubstantiated and based on speculation. As a result, the NAFTA panel ordered the ITC to issue a new determination on threat of injury within 100 days.
U.S. UPS ANTE IN WOOD DISPUTE
Canadian Press, December 17, 2003
Canadian lumber producers will probably face another year of punitive duties after a U.S. trade agency ruled Tuesday that imports from Canada may be hurting American sawmills. The move came on the same day Alberta rejected a proposed deal to end the Canada-U.S. softwood lumber dispute.
NAFTA AT 10: STORY OF A BORDER SLUM
ASSOCIATED PRESS, by MARK STEVENSON, December 14, 2003
Ten years ago, the border slum of Anapra was a sea of shacks made of packing crates and car parts. Families stored scarce water in discarded industrial drums, and illegal electricity hookups started fires and sometimes electrocuted residents. The North American Free Trade Agreement, implemented Jan. 1, 1994, was supposed to change places like Anapra, bringing more jobs, higher wages and reduce the need for Mexicans to head north. The jobs came - an estimated 500,000, mostly at foreign-run assembly plants known as maquiladoras - but they often left again for China, or wherever wages were lower. And while NAFTA brought some progress to this sprawling slum, separated from El Paso, Texas, by a chain-link fence, many see themselves stuck in no-exit, unstable jobs, and many outside the industrial hubs have been forced to leave their farms or emigrate to the United States.
NAFTA COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE CDN POLLUTION LAWS
Environment watchdog will investigate feds, CBC, December 16, 2003 Canadas environment minister has given the green light for his own department to be investigated under the North American Free Trade Agreement. David Anderson says an environmental watchdog agency can investigate whether the government did its job in enforcing pollution rules with pulp mills in Quebec and Atlantic Canada, including Irving Pulp and Paper in Saint John. The Commission for Environmental Cooperation, set up under NAFTA to monitor environmental issues on the continent, received a complaint from the Sierra Environmental Defense Fund accusing Environment Canada of ignoring pollution from pulp and paper mills.
NAFTA AT 10: DAY OF ACTION ON 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF ZAPATISTA UPRISING
Zapatista Uprising 10th Anniversary: Global Day of Action on New Years, December 15, 2003
10 years ago on New Years day in the mountains of southern Mexico the Zapatistas emerged from the Lacandon Jungle in opposition to NAFTA and in support of indigenous rights and self-determination. Taking back their lives and establishing autonomous zones throughout Chiaps, they sent a clear message to the Mexican government and the world: Ya Basta!(Enough!)they cried, declaring NAFTA and other neoliberal policies as a death sentence for indigenous people .we are calling for autonomous actions across the world on New Years (eve or day).
U.E. SUPREME COURT TO TAKE ON NAFTA CASE
Todays Trucking, December 17, 2003
A 20-year-old battle over allowing Mexican trucks on U.S. highways will be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court has announced it will intervene in the conflict by hearing an appeal from the Bush administration, which wants to open the border to Mexican trucks without a court-ordered environmental study. The administration says the study would delay the planned opening that Bush ordered last fall, and thereby hamper commerce. The plan has been bitterly opposed by U.S. labour, consumer, and environmental organizations, including Public Citizen, and the Teamsters, who won an appeals ruling earlier this year that would force the government to perform the lengthy and costly study. The Bush administration has said it will comply with that order, but also appealed to the Supreme Court in September. The ruling also needlessly prolongs a trade dispute with Mexico over the requirements of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Solicitor General Theodore Olson wrote. Mexico claims the moratorium has cost it more than $2 billion.
BLAND NAFTA POLLING RESULTS
Rocky road to US recovery, BBC News, by Steve Schifferes, December 18, 2003
In a survey of public opinion over NAFTA, the free trade agreement between the US, Canada, and Mexico that is 10 years old in December 2003, American Enterprise Institute fellow Karlyn Bowman found that almost half of those interviewed had no opinion of its impact. A further quarter were not sure whether it had created or lost jobs for US workers. Americans seem to both believe that free trade is good for the US economy, and fear that it causes the loss of good jobs. But in recent polls only 12% wanted to pull out of NAFTA, while just 15% said their jobs were threatened by foreign imports.
15 YEARS OF BROKEN FREE TRADE PROMISES
FIFTEEN YEARS OF FREE TRADE: Workers, low-income families pay the price for closer economic integration, CCPA, December 4, 2003
Free trades promises of a significant boost to productivity growth and positive restructuring of Canadian industry have been largely unrealized, according to a report released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. From Leaps of Faith to Hard Landings: Fifteen Years of Free Trade by economist Andrew Jackson, evaluates the impacts of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the context of the great free trade debate of the late 1980s.
MARTIN HEADS TO SPECIAL SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS
Regaining our nerve: Canada must take back the lead in setting the rules for free trade in the Americas, The Ottawa Citizen, by Annette Hester, December 4, 2003 But when it comes to his attendance at the imminent Special Summit of the Americas, taking place in Monterrey, Mexico, next month, it is hard not to feel a little sorry for the guy. Despite the Canadian bureaucracys valiant efforts to keep western hemisphere trade issues on the nations radar screen, Canadas leadership in the Americas has been going downhill at a steady pace since the Quebec summit of 2001.
AMNESTY SAYS MIAMI POLICE MAY HAVE BROKEN UN LAWS
Reuters, December 18, 2003
Police in Miami may have violated various international laws and covenants on civil rights and use of force when they crushed protests against a free trade meeting last month, rights group Amnesty International said.
In a letter to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, dated Dec. 16 and made public on Thursday, the human rights watchdog repeated a call for an independent inquiry into police actions that led to more than 200 arrests and dozens of injuries.
U.S. AGREES TO FREE TRADE DEAL WITH 4 NATIONS
Associated Press, by MARTIN CRUTSINGER, December 18, 2003 The Bush administration reached an agreement yesterday on expanding free trade in Latin America, giving four Central American countries duty-free access to the vast U.S. market and holding out the promise of cheaper prices for U.S. consumers. The agreement, which must be approved by Congress, would represent Americas sixth free trade agreement deals to eliminate all barriers to trade and was modeled along the lines of the decade-old North American Free Trade Agreement linking the United States, Mexico and Canada. The Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, will cover Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. A fifth nation, Costa Rica, abruptly left the negotiations on Tuesday, complaining that the United States was demanding too much in the way of removing barriers that prevent foreign competition in the telecommunications and insurance industries.
U.S. DEAL REACHES FREE TRADE DEAL WITH NATIONS
Associated Press, December 17, 2003
Overcoming a last-minute snag on textiles, the United States reached a free trade agreement on Wednesday with four Central American countries. Negotiators reached agreement in all areas, including textiles and agriculture, according to a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity .A fifth nation, Costa Rica, abruptly left the talks on Tuesday complaining about excessive demands being made by the United States for the nation to open up its market to foreign competition in telecommunications and insurance.
CAFTA RESULT CALLED BLOW TO CORPORATE-DRIVEN AGENDA
In Blow to Corporate-Driven Agenda, U.S. Forced to Complete a Scaled-Down CAFTA Without Costa Rica: Agreement Remains a Threat to Workers, Environment, Public Health, Faces Uphill Battle in Congress, Press Release Citizens Trade Campaign, December 17, 2003
CAFTA, if passed by Congress, would in effect create a NAFTA-style relationship between the U.S. and the Central American countries of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala .Because of concerns over workers rights, investment, access to medicines, the anticipated impact on the sugar and textile industries, strong congressional opposition to the agreement is expected. A recent U.S. Zogby poll found that the majority of respondents opposed extending NAFTA to other Latin American countries.
DEEPLY FLAWED CAFTA TALKS CLOSE
Health GAP (Global Access Project), December 18, 2003
Last minute talks have successfully concluded negotiations for a Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)minus Costa Rica. Among other highly controversial issues, the agreement will lock participating countries into adherence to overly restrictive intellectual property protections for pharmaceutical companies sought by the Bush Administration. The White House continues to push drug company protectionism in this agreement and in the other agreements that are stepping-stones for the hemispheric-wide Free Trade of the Americas (FTAA), said Robert Weissman of Health GAP.
Toronto Star, by TONDA MACCHARLES, December 4, 2003
Officials and supporters of Paul Martin insisted yesterday the incoming prime minister remains committed to the Kyoto accord to reduce greenhouse gases despite doubts raised by Martins own comments earlier in the week. Martin condemned as inadequate Prime Minister Jean ChrÚtiens plan to reach Canadas target of cutting greenhouse gases by 6 per cent of 1990 levels, prompting speculation that Martin believes the goal is unachievable.
ARCTIC CLIMATE CHANGE IS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSE - INUIT
Reuters, December 12, 2003
Inuit hunters said on Wednesday that a thawing of Arctic ice threatened their human rights in a novel bid to raise pressure on the United States to do more to fight global warming. The human rights of Inuit are under threat as a result of human-induced climate change, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC), told a news conference during a 180-nation U.N. meeting on climate change in Milan.
KYOTO FATE UNCLEAR AS UN CLIMATE TALKS END
Reuters, December 16, 2003
A U.N. conference on global warming put off a dispute over aid to OPEC states on its last day last week with the Kyoto protocol hanging by a thread amid uncertainty over Russian ratification. Many nations reaffirmed support for the 1997 pact despite scant progress at the 12-day Milan talks on ways to fight rising temperatures blamed for more droughts, storms and for melting glaciers that may raise sea levels . Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, whose country holds the key to whether Kyoto enters into force, told Japanese media that Moscow was preparing a special action plan to ratify. He gave no deadline.
OUR WATER IS DISAPPEARING: GLACIERS AT LOWEST LEVELS IN 10,000 YEARS, STATS CAN SAYS
The Ottawa Citizen, by Joe Paraskevas, December 4, 2003 About 1,300 of Canadas glaciers have lost between 25 per cent and 75 per cent of their mass since 1850, Statistics Canada said yesterday. That and other alarming revelations are contained in a report entitled Human Activity and the Environment: Annual Statistics, which says most of the losses have been recorded in the past 50 years . Meanwhile, the most recent statistics from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development show that in 1999, each Canadian on average used 1,471 cubic metres of water, said the report. Among OECD member countries, Canada was second only to the United States, where each American used 1,870 cubic metres.
SIERRA CLUB RELEASES KYOTO REPORT CARD
Sierra Club of Canada Press Release, December 17, 2003
Kyoto Report Card says ..
On the first anniversary of Canadas ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, the Sierra Club of Canada has a message for the new Prime Minister: Fix the ChrÚtien Kyoto Plan in 2004 and Canada can meet its target. The Sierra Club of Canadas first annual Kyoto Report Card says the Martin government could start 2004 by getting Canada well on the way to meeting its targets in 2010 by filling a 38 megatonnes hole in Chrétiens Kyoto plan helping Ontario phase out its coal-fired electricity.
DRILLING PLANNED RIGHT NEXT TO ANWR
Drilling Planned in Untapped Alaska Oil Reserve, Reuters, December 16, 2003
Across the western Arctic sprawls an Indiana-sized land mass dotted with lakes, populated by migratory birds and other wildlife, and packed with potential oil riches. The National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska (NPR-A), wedged between the foothills of the rugged Brooks Range and the icy Arctic coastline, is about 120 miles from the better-known Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The NPR-A was set aside 80 years ago as an energy storehouse for the U.S. military, but the reserve has yet to send a barrel of oil to market. The Bush administration hopes to change that and is pushing an ambitious strategy for oil development in the NPR-A as Congress refuses to open drilling in ANWR.
FARMERS HELP TO MANAGE FORESTS
The Nation (Nairobi), December 18, 2003
Scenes of half-burned tree stumps, smouldering remnants of charcoal kilns and massive soil erosion dot the expansive Rumuruti Forest in Laikipia District. Original forests have been repeatedly destroyed through illegal harvesting of trees, illicit grazing, charcoal burning and hunting. The Uaso Narok River, which traverses the forest, has seen its volume decline as tributaries from the forest dry up with dwindling vegetation cover. However, recent Government policy changes calling for Lakipia farmers and residents to be more involved in forest management has brought a ray of hope to this ecosystem.
DOW HIT FOR $2 MILLION FINE FOR CALLING PESTICIDES SAFE
Dow Farm Chemicals to Pay $2 Mln Fine, December 17, 2003
A unit of Dow Chemical Co. will pay New York $2 million for violating a 1994 ban on advertising pesticides as safe, the states attorney general said this week. Dow AgroSciences, LLC, a unit of the largest U.S. chemical maker, breached the agreement by repeatedly misleading consumers about the potential dangers associated with the use of their products, between 1995 and 2003, according to New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
ILLEGAL TRADE IN IVORY BOOMS ACROSS WEST AFRICA
Vanguard (Lagos), December 17, 2003
A lively illegal trade in ivory is now flourishing in three populous states in West Africa, conservation groups say BBC has reported. They found more ivory in Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Senegal than the countries which own elephant populations could produce. The wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic and the global conservation group WWF say West Africas vibrant ivory markets spur the poachers on.
CANADIAN TIRE CONVICTED OF IMPORTING OZONE DEPLETING SUBSTANCES
Environment Canada Press Release, December 12, 2003
Canadian Tire Corporation was sentenced in the Ontario Court of Justice, Brampton, Ontario, on three counts of violating the Ozone-depleting Substances Regulations under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. A penalty of $25,000 was imposed, to be directed to the Canadian Dermatological Association for public education and awareness of skin cancer and related health concerns linked to the thinning of the ozone layer. The corporation illegally imported bar refrigerators containing dichlorodifluoromethane, a substance known to deplete the earths ozone layer.
ANTI-LOGGING GRANNY WONT TRADE IN JAIL CELL FOR PROMISE NOT TO PROTEST
Canadian Press, by TERRI THEODORE, December 17, 2003
It will be a jailhouse Christmas for anti-logging matriarch Betty Krawczyk, who refuses to trade in her cell for a promise not to protest. The 75-year-old great-grandmother is eligible for full parole after being incarcerated over a contempt of court conviction in October. But the dogged activist, who was given a six-month jail sentence, wont agree to parole conditions that would stop her from protesting logging in her old haunts - the Clayoquot, Elaho and Walbran forests on Vancouver Island.
Indymedia, December 13, 2003
Majority of the population of Uruguay votes against privatisation
The overwhelming majority of the about 2.5 million voters demanded the abolition of the law 17.448. This law was supposed to terminate the monopoly of the national oil enterprise Ancap on import and export as well as refining of crude oil.
CHANGING WORLD TRADE RULES ONLY HALF THE FIGHT
The Monitor (Kampala), OPINION by Esther Nakkazi, December 18, 2003
Our own President Yoweri Museveni is a champion of the Trade not Aid for Africa doctrine, but he should probably think harder about his campaign on Africas real access to northern markets in light of the unfairness around the global trade. Whether Africa can deliver if given market access is a big question given that the continent seems unable to even satisfy the duty-free access that it already has under the Lome/Cotonou trade agreements with the European Union (EU) . The rich countries have a choice. Either let Africa have real access to your markets for products, especially agriculture, in which we have comparative advantage, or acknowledge that you prefer to keep us dependent on your handouts. But aid is a recipe for permanent poverty. The only way we can break this vicious cycle is through trade and export-led growth.
INTRODUCING CANADAS NEW INTERNATIONAL TRADE MINISTER
NEWSMAKER-Foreign law expert Peterson Canadas trade minister
Reuters,Dec 12 2003
Former junior finance minister Jim Peterson, an Ivy league law graduate with an international law degree from the Sorbonne, was sworn in as Canadas trade minister on Friday. Peterson, 62, was secretary of state for international financial institutions for 4-1/2 years, directly under Paul Martin when he was finance minister, a position in which he worked closely with Martin on Group of Seven, World Bank, International Monetary Fund meetings and the creation of the G-20.
WOMEN DEMAND ROLE INTRADE TALKS
December 2, 2003, by Lori Nitschke, WeNews correspondent
As trade talks between the United States and developing countries heat up, womens groups are insisting that official attention be paid to the effects of trade pacts on women.
WASHINGTON (WOMENSENEWS)Poverty for Mexicos female-headed households increased 50 percent after the 1994 enactment of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which lowered trade barriers among the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The type of information found in a study by the Washington-based Womens Edge Coalition published last month isnt always high on the minds of trade negotiators looking to lower global trade barriers.
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.