April 1, 2003
1. War and Trade
The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 31, 2003
U.S. antagonism with France and Germany over the war on Iraq is beginning to adversely affect global economic talks .The WTOs failure to meet the deadline is due to differences of opinion between exporters of farm products, including the United States and Australiawhich are seeking to export more agricultural goodsand a second group, including Japan and France, that want to protect their domestic agricultural industries.
In talks that resumed last week, the United States, France and Japan have reiterated their respective assertions concerning the proposed tariff cuts. The WTOs seemingly negligent attitude regarding the need to settle the dispute reflects divisions among its members over the Iraqi crisis.
WAR IS GLOBAL INTERVIEW ABOUT IMPLICATIONS FOR AFRICA
War is Global: A rabble interview with Farid Omar about the far-reaching impacts of the war on Iraq, by Daron Letts, March 27, 2003
Daron Letts: How will Africa be affected by the U.S.-led war on Iraq? Farid Omar: Both economically and militarily it will have a serious impact. Most African economies are still fragile after centuries of exploitation. Remember that the current debt crisis in Africa has its roots in the oil shocks of 1973, which stemmed from the Arab-Israeli conflict. At that time, oil prices increased four-fold, and this had a very serious impact on African countries. They could not sustain themselves. To cushion themselves from the global recession, many African countries started borrowing very heavily from sources like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Many African countries have not recovered. With a new war in the Middle East, the price of oil goes up. The price of everything in Africa will go up food, electricity, water, transportation. It will have a huge impact, especially on the poor.
IRAQ: RIGHTS OF PROTESTERS VIOLATED, SAYS AMNESTY
Inter Press Service, March 30, 2003
As Iraq faces some of the most grave violations of human rights, anti-war demonstrators around the world are also seeing a violation of their rights to protest, Amnesty says in a report released Sunday.
Reported in the Globe & Mail, March 31, 2003
In the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, the US economy was gripped by a kind of paralysis bred by doubt and fuelled by worry. Then war came. Stocks soared, the greenback strengthened and oil prices fell, all in the hope that the conflict would be brief and relatively painless.
Reported in the Globe & Mail, March 31, 2003
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien should clearly signal Canadas moral support for the United States in the Iraq war as a first step to repairing a loss of trust in this countrys most important relationship, former Finance Minister Michael Wilson says.ÊÊMr. Wilson, now Chief Executive Officer of UBS Global Asset Management (Canada) Co., said the bottom line is that Washington expected Canadas ultimate backing in the Iraq conflict because of the two countries close and trusting relationship.
Reported in the Ottawa Sun, Ottawa Citizen, National Post, and others, March 26, 2003
Canadas decision to not join the war on Iraq has many Americans upset and could impact relations between the two countries, says the US Ambassador to Canada. Paul Cellucci spoke Tuesday to the Economic Club in Toronto about Americas attitude toward Canada since the beginning of the war and bluntly told the crowd the US was not happy. There is no security threat to Canada that the US would not be able to protect, Cellucci said. He could not rule out the possibility that Canadas decision could have a future economic impact.
Business groups warn of big Canada-U.S. rift Fear trade will suffer from Ottawas policy on Iraq war, by Steven Chase and Peter Kennedy, The Globe & Mail, March 26, 2003
Business fears that the political rift between Canada and the United States over Iraq could hurt commercial relations were heightened yesterday after U.S. ambassador Paul Cellucci said Ottawas decision to sit out the war may strain relations between the worlds two largest trading partners .We cant take [our trading relationship] for granted, Canadian Chamber of Commerce president Nancy Hughes Anthony said yesterday.
2. WTO (World Trade Organisation)
DFAIT Press Release, March 31, 2003
The Government of Canada made public today the market access commitments it is willing to make in Canadas services sector in exchange for greater access to foreign services markets. It submitted its initial conditional offer as part of ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) . Canada is proposing to make increased market access commitments in financial services, business services, communications, construction, distribution, tourism and travel-related services, and transport services.
US PUTS SERVICE SECTORS ON WTO TABLE
Bush Prepares to Put U.S. Service Sectors on the Negotiating Table at WTO: Secret Demands by Other Countries to Eliminate State Laws Revealed Today, Press Release from Public Citizen and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, March 31, 2003
Public Citizen and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy made available to the public today the U.S. Trade Representatives (USTR) summary of World Trade Organization (WTO) service sector negotiation demands that affect U.S. state law. The compilation lists the requests made to the U.S. from WTO-member countries as part of negotiations occurring under the WTOs General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The document was sent to a single State Point-of-Contact in each state last month. The list reveals the stunning scope of domestic policies and regulations that are poised to be traded away in the closed-door negotiations. With the public, press and elected officials all focused on the war, the Bush Administration is poised to effect a silent, slow-motion coup detat on democratic governance in the United States, said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizens Global Trade Watch.
BUSH POISED TO TRADE AWAY STATE LAWS
See series of Press Released by Public Citizen (on a state by state basis), for example, Bush Administration Poised to Trade Away Iowa Laws at WTO Negotiating Table in Geneva: Bush Administration Plans March 31 Response to EU Demands to Open U.S. Water and Energy Systems, Postal Services and More to Foreign Ownership and Limit State Regulations, March 28, 2003
Without approval by Iowas legislature or Gov. Tom Vilsack, the Bush administration plans to submit offers next week at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that could require the state to open public services to foreign, for-profit ownership and strictly curtail state regulation of banking, insurance, electricity, water systems, transportation, alcohol distribution and professional services including those provided by doctors, lawyers and accountants.
GLOBAL TRADE TALKS SPARK LOCAL FEARS
Associated Press, by Martin Crutsinger, March 29, 2003
The desire of corporate America to dismantle global trade barriers in service industries such as banking and telecommunications could run into major opposition from an unlikely source state and city governments. Local officials are starting to raise concerns that the Bush administration will negotiate away their flexibility to regulate a wide swath of service providers from banks and lawyers to local water and sewer companies.
SERVICES FOR AG CUTS DEAL MOOTED
Reuters, March 31, 2003
In a move aimed at lowering foreign barriers to service industry firms that account for more than half of the US economy, the United States on Monday offered to lock in unilateral market openings it has made in the services sectors since the 1994 world trade pact .As the worlds largest services exporter, the United States has a huge stake in the outcome of the talks, which cover areas such as accounting, finance, insurance, education, medicine, engineering, travel, tourism, construction, express delivery, advertising and telecommunications. A University of Michigan study estimated a one-third cut in services trade barriers around the world would boost US annual income by $US150 billion. Eliminating the barriers completely would boost US income by $450 billion annually, the study said.
US SEEN OFFERING LITTLE NEW SERVICES ACCESS AT WTO
Reuters, March 28, 2003 The United States is unlikely to offer foreign services companies much new market access in negotiations at the World Trade Organization, U.S. industry sources said on Friday. The United States, along with all WTO members, faces a Monday deadline to make initial offers for opening their services market to more foreign participation.
Because the United States already has one of the most open services markets in the world it has little more that it can offer foreign firms, an industry aide said.
As the worlds largest exporter of services, the United States has a huge stake in the WTO negotiations. Services account for 80 percent of U.S. employment and 63 percent of total economic output, according to government figures.
US INITIAL OFFER - SERVICES
U.S. Offers to Expand Access to the Already Open American Services Sector in WTO Trade Talks, USTR Press Release, March 31, 2003
U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick announced today that the U.S. will offer to expand global access to the already open American services sector, as part of ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations to liberalize worldwide trade in services. The U.S. is the worlds largest exporter of services, and todays offer complements the U.S. request last summer that other WTO members open their markets to American services, which often face high barriers and impediments to doing business. The U.S. services offer is part of a long-term process of expanding choice and opportunity for U.S. consumers of commercially important sectors, in areas such as: insurance; banking and other financial services; telecommunications and information services; express delivery; environmental services and energy services.
WTO TO RULE ON US CLAIMS OF CDN WHEAT SUBSIDIES
Associated Press, March 31, 2003
The World Trade Organization agreed today to appoint a panel of experts to rule on U.S. claims that Canada is illegally subsidizing wheat exports.
The U.S. administration requested the panel after failing to come to an agreement with Canadian officials over the issues at the Geneva-based body that sets rules on international trade.
WTO IS WRONG VENUE FOR INVESTMENT NEGOTIATIONS
Third World Network, March 27, 2003
The WTO is the wrong institution for discussions or negotiations on a multilateral investment agreement or framework. This was the main conclusion of the majority of participants at a seminar on the nature and implications of a WTO investment agreement, held on 20 March 2003 in Geneva. The seminar was jointly organised by several NGOs, including TWN, Oxfam, WWF, CIEL, IATP and PSI and attended by over a hundred participants, including representatives of government delegations to the WTO, NGOs, international agencies and experts.
WTO & AGRICULTURE
Farm talks miss deadline; but work must go on, says Supachai, WTO Press Release, March 31, 2003
Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi today expressed disappointment over the failure by WTO member governments to agree on a framework for future agriculture trade reform but said progress in the global trade negotiations can still be achieved provided governments continue to work towards bridging their differences. The failure to meet the deadline for agreeing agriculture negotiating modalities is a great disappointment for us all. Negotiators must redouble their efforts in agriculture and all other areas of negotiation between now and the September Ministerial Conference in Cancun, Mexico. My initial discussions with ministers and other senior trade officials, have given me some encouragement that this commitment exists, said the Director-General .KEY DATES
USTR AND US SECRETARY OF AG ON THE FAILURE OF AG TALKS
Statement of Robert B. Zoellick, U.S. Trade Representative and Ann M. Veneman, Secretary of Agriculture on the Doha Development Agenda Negotiations, USTR Press Release, March 31, 2003
The United States believes that this great worldwide venture [Doha Development Agenda] needs to target grand trade goals: to slash agricultural subsidies and tariffs; to eliminate tariffs on industrial and consumer goods; and to vastly expand opportunities for the fast-emerging services trade. U.S. proposals have backed this vision of global openness, growth, and development with bold offers, demonstrating concretely what actions the United States will take to open its markets if others join with us.
USTR ZOELLICK SAYS WTO DEAL BY 2005 STILL POSSIBLE
Reuters, March 31, 2003
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick said Monday he remained hopeful a new world trade agreement could be reached by January 2005, despite a serious impasse on agricultural issues and sore feelings caused by the U.S.-led war in Iraq. At a news briefing to discuss the U.S. offer in services trade negotiations, Zoellick said it was still possible to meet the January 2005 target if we have success at Cancun, the site of the World trade Organizations next ministerial meeting in Mexico this September.
FARM TARIFF SPARKS DOHA FEARS
Financial Times, by Frances Williams, Tobias Buck and John Mason, March 31, 2002
World Trade Organisation members on Monday expressed concern at the failure of farm trade negotiators to meet on Mondays deadline for setting guidelines for cuts in agricultural tariffs and subsidies. Trade diplomats vowed to continue working for a deal, if possible before Septembers critical ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico, which is due to take stock of progress in the broader Doha global trade talks. However, they acknowledged there could be adverse repercussions on other areas of the talks, calling into question the rounds ambitious three-year timetable that envisages completion in December 2004.
CALL TO SAVE DOHA AGENDA
We must not lose the WTO war by default!, by Leonardo Q. Montemayor, President, Federation of Free Farmers and former Secretary of Agriculture, 21 March 2003
The ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) agriculture negotiations face a
31 March 2003 deadline for the agreement on modalities. The modalities are targets for achieving the objectives of the negotiations, as well as issues related to rules. This is following the mandate by Ministers at Doha, Qatar in November 2002 for negotiators to reach an agreement on agriculture, as part of a single undertaking, by 01 January 2005. The Philippines has shown leadership among developing countries by pushing for a proposal that, in concrete terms, would achieve the objective of Êcorrecting the gross imbalances of the current Agriculture Agreement and establish meaningful reforms in the trading system.
U.S. OFFICIAL DOWNPLAYS MISSED WTO AGRICULTURE MODALITIES DEADLINE
Inside US Trade, March 28, 2003
A senior U.S. trade official this week downplayed the importance of missing a critical deadline in agriculture negotiations as World Trade Organization members in Geneva sought to control any damage from what delegation sources said would be their certain failure to agree to a framework for future farm liberalization by March 31. Chief Agriculture Negotiator Allen Johnson said failing to meet the deadline for agreement on negotiating modalities did not mean the agriculture negotiations were stuck, since members will continue technical discussions on export credits, tariff quota management and other issues through the next several months regardless of the lack of an agreement on modalities. But he said members such as the European Union and Japan need to accept greater liberalization if an agreement on modalities is to be reached.
3. IMF (International Monetary Fund) & The World Bank
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest, March 26, 2003
A new study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), entitled Effects of Financial Globalisation on Developing Countries: Some Empirical Evidence, was released on 17 March. The report explores the relationship between the liberalisation of financial markets in developing countries and the results that liberalisation has had on the economic development of these countries .the report finds that very few developing countries have shown significant growth from investment. The report reveals that liberalisation will not necessarily increase output, and can in fact harm poor countries, as it makes them more susceptible to fluctuations in the global financial market, which in most cases they are not equipped to handle.
A copy of this report can be accessed at: http://www.imf.org/external/np/res/docs/2003/031703.pdf
IMF DEFENDS ITSELF AGAINST STIGLITZ CRITISISM
The IMF did not Force Thailand to cut Public Health Spending: A Letter to the Editor, by Thomas C. Dawson, Director, External Relations Department, February 5, 2003
Joseph Stiglitz has chosen to make a second career out of attacking the International Monetary Fund, as he demonstrated in his interview with you published December 23.
The IMF has debunked most of Professor Stiglitzs spurious accusations elsewhere, but he leveled a novel and especially pernicious charge in his interview with you, which requires a response. Stiglitz claims that the IMF forced [Thailand] to reduce its health spending during the 1997-98 crisis, and implied that these cuts are responsible for rising AIDS cases in that country. In fact (as can be seen on the IMF website), we encouraged the Thai government to protect health spending even as revenue was falling.
UGANGA PRIVATIZATION ON TRACK: IMF
The main challenge facing Uganda is to sustain the poverty reduction effort by maintaining robust economic growth, which would require higher rates of private investment and more effective use of donor support E.(37.) The privatization plan, which by law must be completed by 2005, would not only directly attract investors but, as has been the case with the privatization and restructuring of the telesommunications sector, could also contribute to the easing of constraints on investment. Major privatizations to be completed in the year ahead include the sale of the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) and the Uganda Dairy Corporation, and long-term concessions fo rthe electricity distribution company and railway.
GLOBALIZATION, THE TRANSITION ECONOMIES, AND THE IMF
Speech by Thomas C. Dawson, Director of External Relations, International Monetary Fund at the IMF Seminar for Parliamentarians from Transition Economies Joint Vienna Institute, March 14, 2003
So, in this spirit of glasnost at the IMF, I would like to make some remarks about two such public debates of relevance to transition economies: The first debate is about the reform strategy advocated to the transition economies by outside advisors, including those at the World Bank and the IMF. Has this strategy been the right one? Did the institutions make mistakes? And more important, what lessons have been learned to improve the quality of policy advice to transition economies? The second is the debate over the benefits and risks of globalizationthe process of the economic integration of nations. Do the risks outweigh the benefits? Can developing countries take advantage of globalization?
IMF PUBLICATION FOCUSES ON THE MIDDLE EAST, NORTH AFRICA AND OIL
IMF Web Site, Finance and Development, March 2003
The issue focuses on the Middle East and North Africa: the problems it faces, the reasons its economic performance has been disappointing over the past decade, and the measures it could take to become better integrated with the global economy. Articles explore the regions social policies, high unemployment rate, large and inefficient public sectors, underdeveloped financial sector, exchange rate regimes, and dominant role in world energy markets.
Public Citizen Criticizes FDA for Failing to Ban Topical Lindane Products Used for Treating Scabies and Lice, Press Release by Public Citizen, March 28, 2003
Public Citizen today criticized the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations decision not to ban products containing Lindane, a prescription drug used to treat scabies and lice. Instead of ordering the drug off the market, the agency issued a public health advisory for topical formulations of Lindane lotion and Lindane shampoo.
The FDA has received reports of at least 17 deaths associated with the use of Lindane and numerous reports of neurologic adverse effects ranging from dizziness to seizures. These numbers likely represent only a fraction of patient injuries, because the FDA estimates that only one in ten serious adverse drug reactions is ever reported.
The FDAs decision to leave Lindane on the market is completely irresponsible and another example of the agency failing to put public safety first, said Sidney Wolfe, M.D., director of Public Citizens Health Research Group.
Notes for remarks for Prime Minister Jean Chretien welcoming participants of G8 NEPAD roundtable, March 18, 2003
To ensure the benefits of globalization are more fairly shared, we opened Canadas markets to virtually all imports from Least Developed Countries, of which most are in Africa. And we are helping African partners increase trade by improving market access and defending their interests more effectively in the WTO negotiations.
CANADIAN STEEL MAKERS LOSE BID TO OVERTURM IMPORT RULING
Globe & Mail, by Greg Keenan, March 31, 2003
The Federal Court of Canada has turned down another attempt by Canadian steel makers to overturn a decision by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal.
The court has upheld a CITT decision that imports of cold-rolled steel sheet from several countries did not injure Canadian steel producers.
TOBACCO GIANT CHALLENGES CANADAS RIGHT TO PROSECUTE IT FOR CIGARETTE SMUGGLING
Reported in the Ottawa Citizen and the Globe & Mail, March 27, 2003
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc., says it does not recognize the right of the Canadian government to criminally prosecute the company for alleged tobacco smuggling in the 1990s. The RCMP says the smuggling cost Canadian governments more than $1 billion in lost taxes. Three R.J. Reynolds subsidiaries, eight former tobacco Executives with the company and JTI-Macdonald Corp. were charged last month with fraud, conspiracy and proceeds of crime charges. Seven of the eight executives made an initial Court appearance in Toronto Wednesday. They are to be back in Court May 8.
CONFRONTING THE PERILS OF A SHRINKING WORLD
Globe & Mail editorial, March 28, 2003
Globalization means that if someone in China sneezes, someone in Toronto may one day catch a cold. Or something worse, far worse, as demonstrated by the worldwide outbreak of SARS. It all has the feel of a watershed moment. For the most part, public health scourges were supposed to have died out in the West. Although much of the world suffers from malaria and tuberculosis, we felt immune. We thought we had beaten back disease, even kept a lid on HIV/AIDS, because of our affluence, science and education. The 1918-19 Spanish flu, which killed 50,000 Canadians and more than 20 million worldwide, was spread by soldiers who were always on the move. Today in an era of mass travel, disease may spread as a matter of course. The openness shown thus far by our public health officials may be the best antidote of all.
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.