People, Trade & the Environment
Tools & Information for Activists
February 17, 2003
1. WTO (World Trade Organisation)
* WTO GETS NOWHERE
* TRADE TALKS STUCK IN THE SAND
* WTO PROPOSALS MAY DOUBLE COSTS OF ESSENTIAL DRUGS
* LAST-MINUTE ATTEMPT TO SAVE TRIPS & HEALTH DISCUSSIONS
* WTO GENERAL COUNCIL ELECTS CHAIRS, DECIDES ON NGO ACCESS AT CANCUN
* WTO CLAIMS HIGH MARKS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY, TRANSPARENCY
* NGOs CALL FOR END TO UNDEMOCRATIC MINI-MINISTERIALS
* CALIFORNIA WATER THREATENED BY TRADE AND PRIVITIZATION
* ENGO DRAFT PAPER ON LAW AND THE ENVIRONMENT
WTO & Agriculture
* WTO TALKS HIT DEADLOCK AMID FARMERS RALLY
* DUMPING OF US AG COMMODITIES HURTING FARMERS
* WTO, INDONESIAN AGRICULTURE, AND FOOD SECURITY
2. IMF (International Monetary Fund) & The World Bank
* WORLD BANK REPORT FINDS UNIONS BETTER FORWORKERS
* WORLD BANK BANS PUBLIC AT WATER HEARINGS
3. FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) & NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
* US RENEWS PUSH FOR HEMISPHERIC FREE TRADE
* US UNVAILS BROAD PLAN FOR AMERICAS FREE TRADE
* US OFFER AIMED AT BREAKING FTAA LOGJAM
* CANADAS INITIAL OFFER ON FTAA MADE PUBLIC
* PETTIGREW COMMENTS ON NAFTA RELATIONSHIPS
* CEC TALKS ON RENERABLE ENERGY
* FRENCH RETAIN SANGFROID OVER US WINE SANCTIONS THREAT
* CANADIAN FOREIGN POLICY CONSULTATION, TRADE CHAPTER
* CANADIANS STUDY US PROPOSALS TO END LUMBER WAR
* ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERS CONDEMN FUSION REACTOR SUBSIDIES
* CALIFORNIA PRIVATE WATER BAD FOR PEOPLE: REPORT
* EU TRADE COMMISSIONER REPORT ON WEF
* TRADE, POVERTY, ENVIRONMENT DECISIONS AT UNEP MEETING
* UNEP MEETING ON ENVIRONMENT AND TRADE IN MARCH
* FOURTH MEETING OF THE WORLD COMMISSION ON THE SOCIAL DIMENSION OF GLOBALIZATION
* ETHIOPIA REMAINS ON THE CRITICAL LIST
* US ALARMED OVER BLOOD PRODUCTS IN TORONTO TRASH
* COURT LIFTS LID OFF CABINET SECRECY
* POLLUTER-PAY LAW IN JEOPARDY, ONTARIO WARNS
* US FIRMS RAIL AGAINST CUSTOM RULES
Great News! People, Trade and the Environment is now in official cahoots with the Sierra Club of Canada. As a SCC publication, the format and content will not change, however, we can now reach more people who are doing amazing work on these issues. Also, as an added bonus, you will be able to read the digest on-line at www.sierraclub.ca/national. By the way, those of you who would prefer to receive a Word version of the digest instead of its usual, graceless text format - can simply send an email indicating your preference. Many thanks to the volunteers (especially Maeve Sullivan) and cheer-leaders who have got us this far. Always open to suggestions and feed-back!
FOR INFORMATION OR COMMENTS, TO SUBSCRIBE OR UNSUBSCRIBE, PLEASE CONTACT: Sarah Dover, firstname.lastname@example.org
1. WTO (World Trade Organisation)
***** WTO GETS NOWHERE *****
Japan Today, by Natsumi Mizumoto, 17 February 2003
Although they have only six weeks left before a key deadline, ministers from major World Trade Organization (WTO) members remain far apart over farm market liberalization, proving that three years of negotiations have had few effects
.They also failed to indicate concrete steps on how they would narrow the vast differences to reach a compromise by the March 31 deadline for rules and targets, or so-called modalities, for the WTO members to slash tariffs and subsidies in the area.
***** TRADE TALKS STUCK IN THE SAND *****
Trade talks stuck in the sand: Feelings run strong in Asia about farm subsidies
BBC News, 16 February, 2003
The chances of reaching a new deal on world trade by the 2004 deadline are diminishing fast after trade talks in Tokyo failed to bring the multiple warring sides any closer together. The 22-nation ministerial talks were billed as a last-ditch attempt to get the so-called Doha Development Round - the latest round of discussions begun in Doha, Qatar in November 2001 - back on track. But on both agriculture and affordable drugs for Aids and other killer diseases, no-one could find a more optimistic description for the content than constructive - diplomatic code for no change on either side. The World Trade Organisations plans to reform farming subsidies were either a step too far or not nearly enough, while the big pharmaceutical companies - represented by the US - refused to relent on the tight controls they want on countries rights to break drug patents in emergencies.
***** WTO PROPOSALS MAY DOUBLE COSTS OF ESSENTIAL DRUGS *****
The East African Standard (Nairobi), by Mucheru Kelvin, February 17, 2003
The cost of some essential medicines is likely to double should a proposal to the World [Trade] Organisation (WTO) on patent and drugs be adopted . The proposal seeks to limit the use of compulsory licensing for many developing countries to national emergencies or other circumstances of extreme urgency. This is according to Action Aid Kenya , Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF) and EcoNews. The two said the move is likely to limit Kenyas access to affordable medicine. The Non governmental organisations said the move will reverse the public health policy gains made under the Doha declaration on TRIPS and public health in 2001.
***** LAST-MINUTE ATTEMPT TO SAVE TRIPS & HEALTH DISCUSSIONS *****
12 February 2003, Bridges Trade News Digest
A General Council meeting on 11 February was suspended following a request by the Chair of the Council for Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), Ambassador Eduardo Perez Motta (Mexico), for more time. Chair Perez Motta said he wished to continue his consultations to take advantage of a certain momentum towards finding a solution generated in recent days. Members are discussing Perez Mottas latest suggestion of adopting his 16 December draft on a solution to paragraph 6 of the Doha TRIPs and Health Declaration in conjunction with a Chairs statement outlining a number of understandings that have emerged in the discussions. Civil society group Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) strongly rejected the Chairs proposed statement, warning that adopting the Chairs note would result in the progress that was made at Doha being utterly reversed.
***** WTO GENERAL COUNCIL ELECTS CHAIRS, DECIDES ON NGO ACCESS AT CANCUN *****
The WTO General Council met for one day (10 February) instead of the scheduled two, electing officers for 2003, and agreeing on procedural issues for the Fifth Ministerial meeting in Cancún in September. Chair Ambassador Sergio Marchi (Canada) then suspended the meeting to allow for further discussion of the Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) Agreement and Public Health. Discussions on special and differential treatment (S&D) of developing countries were also stalled after blockage in the General Council. NGO participation at Cancún. The General Council meeting decided on procedures for registration and attendance of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) at the fifth session of the Ministerial Conference in Cancún, Mexico, from 10-14 September 2003. NGOs will be allowed to attend plenary sessions of the meeting, without making interventions. They are required to apply for the right to attend, documenting that they are concerned with matters related to those of the WTO. NGOs that have registered twice for attendance at Ministerials are exempted from the requirement of providing full documentation. Requests for registration should be sent by 30 April, and registration forms will be sent by 31 May to all NGOs that fulfil the registration criteria. The document outlining this General Council decision, in English, French and Spanish, will be available online by the end of the week (WT/MIN(03)/INF/, searchable at http://docsonline.wto.org).
***** WTO CLAIMS HIGH MARKS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY, TRANSPARENCY *****
WTO gets high marks for accountability, transparency, WTO Press Release, 11 February 2003 The first Global Accountability Report has given high marks to the WTO, ranking it third on access to online information, eighth on member control and fourth overall among 18 inter-governmental organizations, transnational corporations and international NGOs
. Under this criterion, the WTO is ranked third, below the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Federation of the Red Cross, and above the World Bank, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Rio Tinto and Shell.
***** NGOs CALL FOR END TO UNDEMOCRATIC MINI-MINISTERIALS *****
NGOs request WTO no longer hold undemocratic mini-ministerial meetings, BBC, February 15, 2003
International non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and some 30 Japanese bodies requested Saturday [15 February] that the World Trade Organization (WTO) stop holding mini-ministerial meetings, which they term undemocratic. Representatives of the international groups, Japan-based NGOs, farm bodies and trade unions filed the request in a meeting with Ichiro Fujisaki, Japans deputy foreign minister for economic affairs, on the sidelines of the three-day WTO mini-ministerial talks in Tokyo that started Friday. The NGO side asked Fujisaki, who attended the meeting on behalf of Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi, that he hand a document stating their request via Kawaguchi to WTO Director General Supachai Panitchpakdi and the 22 WTO members attending the Tokyo meeting
.Fujisaki told the NGO side that mini-ministerial talks, including the talks in Tokyo, are informal gatherings and not designed to facilitate discussions.
***** CALIFORNIA WATER THREATENED BY TRADE AND PRIVITIZATION *****
Consumer Group Warns California AG: New Trade Agreement Could Accelerate Acquisition of California Public Water Works by Foreign Firms, Leaked WTO Documents on Trade in Services Reveal Threats as Negotiation Deadline Approaches Public Citizen Press Release, Feb. 6, 2003
The consumer advocacy group Public Citizen warned California Attorney General Bill Lockyer this week that a wide array of Californias consumer safeguards and public services are under attack in secret trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO). By March 31, the Bush administration must respond to European Union demands contained in a document leaked from negotiations aimed at implementing the WTOs General Agreement on Trade in Services, or GATS. The EU is demanding that municipal water service contracts in California and other states be opened to foreign corporations and that California drop its insurance and utility regulations to pave the way for acquisitions by European firms.
***** ENGO DRAFT PAPER ON LAW AND THE ENVIRONMENT *****
The State Of Trade Law And The Environment: Key Issues For The Next Decade, A Working Paper by The International Institute For Sustainable Development and the Center For International Environmental Law
Feb 12, 2003
The relationship between trade law and the environment became a prominent agenda item in the last four to five years prior to the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Decisions under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) arbitration process and the Uruguay Round negotiations for what was to become the Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization and its associated Agreements and Decisions, led several environmental and other civil society groups to focus on this issue as never before
. As the Doha Round of trade negotiations moves forward, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) have joined forces to look at the current state of the law - trade law - as it relates to some key environmental issues. The objective of this effort is to establish, based on the WTO Agreements and WTO Dispute Settlement decisions what the current state of the law is in these key areas. Only when there is a consistent view on what the state of the law is, can a meaningful dialogue take place as to what the state of the law should be. The objective of this project is to help set such a baseline, so that negotiators, observers, civil society groups, etc., can have a consistent platform to be working from.
Comments are welcome and appreciated, and may be directed to Stephen Porter at CIEL or Howard Mann at the IISD.
WTO & AGRICULTURE
***** WTO TALKS HIT DEADLOCK AMID FARMERS RALLY *****
The Daily Gulf (Tokyo), 16 February 2003
Ministers from more than 20 countries failed to bridge bitter divisions on key agricultural trade reform yesterday, sending a WTO blueprint back to the drawing board as thousands of farmers held noisy protests. Failure to reach an agreement on agriculture could threaten the latest round of global trade liberalisation negotiations launched in Doha, Qatar, in 2001, World Trade Organisation spokes-man Keith Rockwell said. Its very clear that theres quite a difference between the members of our organisation on this issue, he said after the first working session.
To miss the agricultural modalities deadline would, I think, cast quite a serious pall over the overall process.
***** WTO AG TEXT IGNORES DUMPING AND DEVELOPING COUNTRY PROPOSALS *****
Press Release from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, February 14, 2003
In a blow to developing countries and farmers around the world, the new draft World Trade Organization (WTO) agriculture trade rules totally ignore a number of proposals designed to protect farmers from unfair trade practices, according to the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). The new text, drafted by WTO staff Stuart Harbinson, was distributed to WTO member governments prior to a Mini Ministerial gathering in Tokyo beginning today - designed to spark negotiations. The Harbinson text does not contain any of the main proposals advanced by developing countries to address agricultural dumping - the export of farm products at prices below the cost of production. Agricultural dumping is the single most damaging trade practice for developing countries - it destroys livelihoods, and increases food insecurity. Export dumping also hurts U.S. farmers by lowering market prices on nearly all crops.
***** DUMPING OF US AG COMMODITIES HURTING FARMERS *****
New Report Documents Dumping, Argues U.S. in Violation of Trade Rules, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Press Release, February 11, 2003 Five primary farm commodities are being dumped onto international global markets by the United States in violation of World Trade Organization (WTO) agriculture rules, according to a new report released today by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
.The report, U.S. Dumping on World Agricultural Markets: Can Trade Rules Help Farmers?, by Mark Ritchie, Sophia Murphy and Mary Beth Lake, looks at the cost of production of corn, soybeans, cotton, wheat and rice, and compares the cost to the price at which these commodities are sold on international markets. In all cases, the commodities were sold below the cost of production a practice known as export dumping. Moreover, the document details how the dumping begins right here at home, at the farmgate, where farmers are selling their crops for prices up to 40% below their cost of production.
***** WTO, INDONESIAN AGRICULTURE, AND FOOD SECURITY *****
by Nur Hidayat, Institute for Global Justice, Jakarta, Indonesia, prepared for AFTINET seminar on
Alternatives to the WTO, Sydney, 8 November 2002
Before the economic crisis hit in 1997, Indonesia was known as one of the Asian Tigers, because of its phenomenal economic growth and modernization. The World Bank dubbed it the East Asian miracle. From 1992, Indonesia enjoyed increasing growth in real GDP, from 6.3 per cent in 1992 to 7.3 per cent in 1994. With exports of US$ 36.8 billion in 1993, Indonesia continued to push economic growth to the limits
right through 1995, before finally, in 1996, things started to come crashing down. Hardly anyone had suspected that Indonesia would ruin its economy in such a short time
.The miracle label did not stick for long. In fact, ridden with duplicity, it turned out to be not a miracle at all
This text was released to delegates today by the Chairman of the Special Session of the Committee on Agriculture, Stuart Harbinson
2. IMF (International Monetary Fund) & The World Bank
***** WORLD BANK REPORT FINDS UNIONS BETTER FOR WORKERS *****
Economies Perform Better In Coordinated Labor Markets, Impact of globalization spurs interest in labor standards around the world, World Bank, February 12, 2003
Workers who belong to trade unions earn higher wages, work fewer hours, receive more training, and have longer job tenure on average, than their non-unionized counterparts, according to a new World Bank study on the effects of unions and collective bargaining in the global economy.
***** WORLD BANK BANS PUBLIC AT WATER HEARINGS *****
Secretive World Bank Tribunal Bans Public and Media Participation in Bechtel Lawsuit Over Access To Water, Citizens excluded from $25 million suit against Bolivia for companys failed water privatization scheme, Press Release by Earthjustice, CIEL, The Democracy Center, February 12, 2003
The Bechtel Corporation was handed a powerful victory last week, when a secretive trade court announced that it would not allow the public or media to participate in or even witness proceedings in which Bechtel is suing the people of Bolivia for $25 million. Aguas del Tunari, a subsidiary of the California-based engineering giant, is suing South Americas poorest nation over the companys failed effort to take over the public water system of Bolivias third largest city, Cochabamba. After taking over the water system in 2000, the company imposed massive water rate hikes, which resulted in widespread protests countered by military force that killed one person and wounded 175 others.
3. FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) & NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
***** US RENEWS PUSH FOR HEMISPHERIC FREE TRADE *****
Bush to offer big tariff cut for Latin America, official says Talks stalled as Washington accused of balking on farm goods, The Toronto Star, Feb. 12, 2003
President George W. Bush will offer to eliminate tariffs on two-thirds of Americas imports of consumer and industrial products from Latin America immediately upon creation of a hemisphere-wide free-trade zone, an administration official says. Its part of a comprehensive proposal coming soon to lower U.S. trade barriers in an effort to jump-start stalled negotiations aimed at creating the worlds largest free-trade zone, stretching from Alaska to the tip of South America, a senior official said on condition of anonymity.
***** US UNVAILS BROAD PLAN FOR AMERICAS FREE TRADE *****
Reuters, By Doug Palmer, February 11, 2003
The Bush administration made the offer as part of the negotiations on the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement, which would create a $13 trillion free trade zone covering 34 countries and nearly 800 million people. President (George W.) Bush has made the FTAA a top U.S. priority and today we deliver with bold proposals to lower barriers throughout the region, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said. Were putting all our tariffs on the table and are ready to move forward with others that are ready to do the same. The U.S. proposal would eliminate tariffs on textiles and apparel products made in the region within five years, providing other countries do the same. It would also provide immediate duty-free access for about 56 percent of farm goods and 65 percent of industrial and consumer goods from Latin America and the Caribbean once the FTAA goes into effect. The current goal for concluding the trade pact is Jan. 1, 2005.
***** US OFFER AIMED AT BREAKING FTAA LOGJAM *****
U.S. Advances Bold Proposals in FTAA Negotiations to Create Worlds Largest Free Market in 2005, USTR Press Release, February 11, 2003
The United States announced today a bold, comprehensive offer to eliminate tariffs and trade barriers in the negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas, a $13 trillion market of 34 countries and nearly 800 million people. The U.S. is offering to eliminate its import duties on the majority of industrial and agricultural imports from the Western Hemisphere immediately upon entry into force of the FTAA, and is offering broad access to its services, investment and government procurement sectors. In addition, the U.S. is offering that textiles and apparel imports from the region would be duty-free in the U.S. just five years after the FTAA takes effect, provided other countries reciprocate.
todays U.S. offer only extends to those FTAA countries that put their own offers on the table. Over the next several months, the United States and other FTAA countries will respond to each others initial offers and begin negotiations in preparation for the Miami Ministerial meeting in November, which the United States is co-chairing with Brazil. The U.S. offer covers five key areas of the negotiations: consumer and industrial goods; agriculture; services; investment; and government procurement.
***** CANADAS INITIAL OFFER ON FTAA MADE PUBLIC *****
CANADA OFFERS GREATER MARKET ACCESS TO FREE TRADE AREA OF THE AMERICAS PARTNERS, DFAIT Press Release, February 14, 2003
International Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew announced today that Canada has made public its initial market access offers in services, investment and government procurement in Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations. Officials from Canada are in Panama this week for presentations of initial offers by the 34 FTAA countries
.Canadas offers include tariff reductions on agricultural and industrial goods and substantial market access opportunities across the investment and services sectors. Canadas joint services and investment offer means that markets are open unless specifically excluded
***** PETTIGREW COMMENTS ON NAFTA RELATIONSHIPS *****
NOTES FOR AN ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE PIERRE PETTIGREW, MINISTER FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADE, TO THE SENATE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, THE CANADA-UNITED STATES AND CANADA-MEXICO TRADING RELATIONSHIPS, February 3, 2003
as you also know, by any criteriamovement of goods, investment, people, ideasNorth America, and in particular the United States, is by far our most important market. So, securing and improving access to this market has to be our number one trade policy priority. The study that this Committee is currently conducting is therefore extremely timely and provides an excellent opportunity to seek the views of Canadians on priorities for future work
.But NAFTA has been more than a scorecard for trade. The reorientation of Canadas industrial structure was encouraged by the new opportunities and competitive pressures created by NAFTA and by its predecessor, the Canada-U.S
.Building on our successes in NAFTA, we have been encouraged to broaden trade liberalization through the World Trade Organization [WTO] and through economic integration within the Free Trade Area of the Americas [FTAA].
In summary, we know that the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA have served us exceedingly well, but we must not rest on our laurels
***** CEC TALKS ON RENERABLE ENERGY *****
Renewable energy focus of meetings with multinational corporations and government leaders, CEC Press Release, 7 February 2003
Business leaders from DuPont to Volkswagen were among the dozen multinational companies talking renewable energy in Mexico today. At a meeting organized by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) of North America in Mexico City, government officials met with private sector representatives to identify obstacles and potential solutions to the development of renewable energy. Supported by the Center for Private-Sector Studies on Sustainable Development (Cespedes) and the National Commission for Energy Savings (Conae), the CEC sought to strengthen regional cooperation on this important issue.
***** FRENCH RETAIN SANGFROID OVER US WINE SANCTIONS THREAT *****
AFP, Feb 13, 2003
French wine and mineral water producers Thursday expressed confidence the current Franco-US spat over Iraq will not sour Americans taste for French drinks, despite a threat of sanctions. The speaker of the US House had on Wednesday raised the idea of slapping sanctions on Frances well-known mineral water and wine exports, in retaliation for the countrys reluctance to back the hawkish US line on Iraq.
***** CANADIAN FOREIGN POLICY CONSULTATION, TRADE CHAPTER *****
DFAIT Foreign Policy Diologue
Our countrys economic prosperity is tied to a world economy undergoing unprecedented growth and market integration. Developing within the framework of international trade bodies such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and its successor, the World Trade Organization (WTO), our economy today is among the worlds richest and most open, with a high proportion of our prosperity dependent on international trade and foreign investment. Canada has derived broad advantages from the NAFTA and other free trade agreements.
Addressing the needs of the most disadvantaged groups will require continued efforts by international financial institutionsincluding the International Monetary Fund in designing assistance programs for crisis-afflicted countries, and the World Bank in designing programs to promote development and poverty reduction in emerging markets
.The Government of Canada is committed to the continued expansion of a stable, rules-based global trading system. As a member of the WTO, we are participating in a new round of global trade talks
***** CANADIANS STUDY US PROPOSALS TO END LUMBER WAR *****
Published in the Globe & Mail, February 10, 2003
Canadian forestry officials say they need more time to study US proposals to resolve the softwood lumber dispute by forcing some provinces to dramatically reform their timber management practices. For decades, Canadian forest companies have operated under a government-administered system that requires them to operate sawmills and create employment in return for the right to harvest timber on Crown land. But that system will be changed dramatically if provinces such as British Columbia and Quebec agree to adopt a series of proposals by Grant Aldonas, the US Commerce Departments Under-Secretary for International Trade. The Aldonas system would see the reforms toward market-based practices, including public auctions for Crown timber, but Canadian officials say this wouldnt change much, as the majority of Crown timber has already been allocated under long-term, binding contracts known as tenure. That is why Canadian lumber officials who attended meetings with Mr. Aldonas in Washington last week are happy that the industry has been granted more time to mull revisions to this complex plan before talks resume.
***** ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERS CONDEMN FUSION REACTOR SUBSIDIES *****
Sierra Club of Canada Press Release, February 13, 2003
Canadian environmental leaders are urging Finance Minister John Manley to deny subsidies for an experimental fusion reactor in the upcoming federal budget.
Proponents of the ITER fusion reactor (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) originally stated that Canada would not have to contribute funding to the $12 billion project. However, the international partners have now insisted on significant host-country support, and ITER Canada is now seeking massive subsidies ranging from $500 million to an astounding $50 billion over the expected 30 year life of the project. There are competing bids from France, Spain and Japan to build the fusion reactor.
***** CALIFORNIA PRIVATE WATER BAD FOR PEOPLE: REPORT *****
Stockton Citizens Stand to Lose in Proposed Privatization Deal: Report Reveals How Corporations Profit and Consumers Lose With Water Privatization, Public Citizen Press Release, Feb. 11, 2003
Public Citizen warned the City Council today that allowing OMI-Thames to take control of Stocktons public water system will violate consumers rights and endanger the environment. The for-profit corporate partnership is negotiating a contract with the city. Thames Water, the British-based and German-owned global water giant, plans to use the Stockton deal to pay off its multibillion-dollar debt and further its reach in the United States, according to a new report by Public Citizen. The report expands on a report Public Citizen issued last year about Thames dismal environmental performance, raising additional questions about the companys unacceptable water maintenance record, the potentially negative ramifications for citizens, the parent corporations crushing debt and other issues.
**** EU TRADE COMMISSIONER REPORT ON WEF *****
Commission statement on World Economic and Social Forums, Speech by EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, EP Plenary session, February 10, 2003
There are also concerns about the re-emergence of the so called twin deficits in the US, where a large public deficit now appears alongside a persistently large US current account deficit that looks increasingly unsustainable. A disorderly unwinding of the current imbalances could pose a threat to an already fragile global recovery
. Firstly, (contrary to what some may have argued in Porto Alegre) the WTO is NOT a business-driven organisation, it is a consensus-based MEMBER-DRIVEN organisation that businesses cannot join. And among the members, developing countries are increasingly making their presence felt. The WTO Secretariat itself is small, and has no right of initiative. So whilst I listen to the complaints of some NGOs about the WTO being non-democratic, I think this point is overdone. I would again see a considerable role for parliaments to help to bridge this perceived democracy gap. Secondly, (contrary to what some may have expressed in Davos) the Doha Development Agenda is not just about trade liberalisation, it is also about trading rules. The EU approach at the WTO can be traced back to the development of the EU itself. We Europeans understand that simply liberalising, without making the effort to construct effective rules that bind equally the largest and smallest members of an organisation, will not be effective. Therefore, the EU stresses that the negotiations are about trade liberalisation AND BETTER TRADE RULES, so that the WTO system functions more effectively in addition to promoting growth and sustainable development.
***** TRADE, POVERTY, ENVIRONMENT DECISIONS AT UNEP MEETING *****
The decision (UNEP/GC.22/CW/L.1): requests the Executive Director to develop a strategy for implementation of the poverty eradication commitments in the WSSDs Plan of Implementation; recognizes UNEPs role in poverty eradication; encourages cooperation on NEPAD; promotes policy integration; seeks to operationalize UNEPs conceptual framework on poverty and the environment; and
requests the Executive Director to report on progress on poverty-environment activities at the Governing Councils 23rd session.
Sustainable Production and Consumption:
The US argued that inclusion of the words life cycle initiative was unacceptable due to concerns over trade restrictions
On Friday, 7 February, delegates approved the agenda for the eighth special session of the Governing Council/fifth Global Ministerial Environment Forum, and agreed that it will be held from 29-31 March 2004, in the Republic of Korea. They also adopted the agenda for the Governing Councils 23rd regular session/sixth Global Ministerial Environment Forum, and agreed that it will take place from 21-25 February 2005, in Nairobi (UNEP/GC.22/L.5).
***** UNEP MEETING ON ENVIRONMENT AND TRADE IN MARCH *****
UNEP Capacity Building Meeting on Environment, Trade and Sustainable Development
This meeting will take place from 27-28 March 2003, in Mexico City. This meeting is held in collaboration with the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation and will address environmental goods and services, the TRIPS agreement, trade liberalization in agriculture, and the use of economic instruments to achieve environment and trade objectives. For more information, contact: Charles Arden-Clarke; tel: +41-22-917-8168; e-mail: email@example.com
***** FOURTH MEETING OE THE WORLD COMMISSION ON THE SOCIAL DIMENSION OF GLOBALIZATION *****
ILO Press Release, 14 February 2003
The World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization will hold its fourth meeting at the International Labour Organization (ILO) on 16-18 February 2003. The Commission is to review the outcomes of a large number of regional and national dialogues and knowledge networks held in the past year, and to consider a draft substantive outline of its final report
.The ILO launched the World Commission in February of 2002 with the aim of building a consensus on a model of globalization that reduces poverty and insecurity, and increases opportunities for all.
***** ETHIOPIA REMAINS ON THE CRITICAL LIST *****
Oxfam International press release, 13 Feb 2003
A report by Oxfam International today warned the international community that critical gaps exist in relief supplies needed for the 11 million people affected by drought in Ethiopia.
The report, Ethiopia: Averting a Crisis urges donors to fill the critical gaps in the food pipeline that could leave 3.5 million - who have been severely weakened by the drought - without special higher protein food that they urgently need. Donors have only pledged enough food to see Ethiopia through to June, given the logistical challenges and the scale and depth of the drought, more food needs to be pledged now if a crisis is to be averted.
***** US ALARMED OVER BLOOD PRODUCTS IN TORONTO TRASH *****
Published in the Ottawa Citizen, February 10, 2003
Politicians in Michigan say theyre concerned about the garbage being shipped from Toronto after a truck was stopped at the border dripping blood. Neither the State Police nor the Department of Environment Quality regularly look for hazardous materials in trucks hauling trash into Michigan from Canada, the Detroit News reported Sunday. At least seven Toronto trucks have been refused entry into the US since October because they contained radioactive materials or medical waste.
***** COURT LIFTS LID OFF CABINET SECRECY *****
Published in the Ottawa Citizen, February 11, 2003
Canadians could soon learn the inside story of many federal Cabinet decisions following a Court ruling that is being touted as a victory for the publics right to know. The Federal Court of Appeal has unanimously upheld and earlier judgement paving the way for release of background information about actions taken by the Cabinet. The ruling effectively unlocks records that shed light on the crafting of major government decisions and policy during the last 90 years, said Daniel Brunet, a lawyer for the Information Commission of Canada. Its very significant.
***** POLLUTER-PAY LAW IN JEOPARDY, ONTARIO WARNS *****
Published in the Globe & Mail, Friday, February 14, 2003
Polluters could skip away from thousands of contaminated sites across the country unless the Supreme Court of Canada puts a stop to a legal challenge by Imperial Oil Ltd., the Minister of the Ontario Attorney General says. The province warns in a brief to the Court that an adverse ruling in todays hearing would prevent governments from issuing cleanup orders and be disastrous for environmental regulation across Canada. It would effectively sterilize all polluter-pay legislation, Ontario government lawyer Jack Coop said. The case stems from a 1998 order from the Quebec Minister of the Environment to Imperial Oil to clean up oil and grease contamination form decades old storage tanks that had leaked deep into the soil on which 20 homes have been built in subdivision near the city of Levis.
***** US FIRMS RAIL AGAINST CUSTOM RULES *****
Published in the Ottawa Citizen, Friday, February 14, 2003
Companies in the US that trade heavily with Canada are protesting against a US Customs Service proposal that would require cross-border shipments to be registered with US officials before the cargo is loaded. The proposal for the so-called advance electronic information system would require trucks to contact the border four hours prior to loading. Under the plan, which has already sparked alarm among Canadian exporters, air carriers would need to report 12 hours in advance; rail shipments would require 24 hours advance notice. During a hearted discussion at a recent meeting with customs officials in Washington, major automakers and other manufacturers groups warned that the proposal would destroy the closely integrated cross-border production system.
of the NAFTA on Dispute Settlement
DDA Doha Development Agenda
DFAIT Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
ENGO Environmental non-governmental organization
FTA Free trade agreement
FTAA Free Trade Area of the Americas
GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
IFI International financial institution
ILO International Labor Organization
IMF International Monetary Fund
LDCs Lesser Developed Countries
NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement
NGO Non-governmental organization
TRIPS Agreement Respecting Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
UNDP UN Development Programme
USTR US Trade Representative
WEF World Economic Forum
WHO World Health Organization
WSF World Social Forum
WTO World Trade Organization
GATS General Agreement on Trade in Services
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.
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