July 17, 2003
1. WTO (World Trade Organisation)
WTO meeting forced moved to another Montreal hotel due to security fears, CP, July 17, 2003
The Queen Elizabeth Hotel cited a clause in its contract which it believes permits the long-standing reservation with the federal Department of International Trade to be rescinded, said Sebastien Theberge, spokesman for Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew .The landmark downtown hotel was concerned about massive anti-globalization protests aimed at disrupting the meeting of trade ministers scheduled for July 28-30. They (the hotel) felt that security and logistical requirements may have inconvenienced clients, Theberge said.
WTO CONCERNED ABOUT REGIONAL TRADE DEVELOPMENTS
Spreading Regional Trade Pacts Spur WTO Concern, Business Day (Johannesburg), by Carli Lourens, July 16, 2003
THERE is rising concern in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) about the proliferation of regional trade agreements such as those being negotiated by [South Africa]. The WTO warns in its latest annual report that such agreements are likely to give rise to regulatory confusion, distortion of regional markets and severe implementation problems. They also increase the risk of inconsistencies in rules and procedures among regional agreements and between such agreements and multilateral negotiations such as the Doha Development Round, says the report.
NO EXPANSION - EU CIVIL SOCIETY TO LEADERS
WITHDRAW EU DEMANDS FOR THE EXPANSION OF THE WTO IN CANCUN, July 6, 2003:
These 100+ signatures were collected in the week immediately preceeding the Palermo meeting . 1. We call on EU trade ministers to withdraw their support for the start of negotiations on the new issues at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun as proposed by the European Commission . 2. We call on EU trade ministers to stop engaging in misleading trade-off strategies . 3. We call on EU trade ministers to support an agenda to review and radically reform existing trade rules rather than forcing through a set of negotiations that most developing countries do not want . 4. We call on EU trade ministers to assume their decision-making responsibilities in the run up to Cancun.
NEGOTIATING BURDEN FALLS TO THE FEW DEVELOPING COUNTRIES WITH CAPACITY
The rise of the new power bloc, Mail and Guardian, by Jaspreet Kindra, July 16, 2003
South Africa, Brazil, India and China are emerging as the leaders of the new developing world bloc set to take on the developed world. During a recent visit to South Africa Indian Minister for Foreign Affairs Yashwant Sinha told the Mail & Guardian that, sadly, many developing countries lacked the expertise to deal with World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations, which have become extremely complex and call for a great deal of expertise to conduct them. Therefore, he said, there was a greater responsibility on countries such as South Africa, Brazil, India and China, which understand the WTO issues and the processes of negotiation to play the role.
TRADE SANCTIONS AGAINST OPPRESSIVE REGIME MAY BE SUBJECT TO WTO CHALLENGE
A WTO trick up Yangons sleeve, Asia Times, cy Alan Boyd , July 18, 2003
The United States could face legal sanctions of its own after endorsing an economic embargo against Myanmars hardline military regime that technically violates global free-trade commitments. Yangon has already hinted in diplomatic circles that it may lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over an imports ban that would remove more than 30 percent of the impoverished nations export revenues. Legislators in the US House of Representatives approved the imports ban on Tuesday as part of a package of retaliatory measures for the imprisonment of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in late May and the juntas failure to resume a political-reforms dialogue.
BEHIND THE SCENES: NEW BOOK ON THE WTO
LATEST FROM ZED BOOKS AND FOCUS ON THE GLOBAL SOUTH
Fatoumata Jawara and Aileen Kwa: Behind the Scenes at the WTO: the Real World of International Trade Negotiations. Zed Books, London. Due out: August 2003.
This is the ammunition the critics of the WTO have been waiting for. It reveals the systematic subversion of an ostensibly democratic system to ensure that the agreements that are reached are those the major powers - primarily the US and the European Union - want, irrespective of the views of interests of most developing countries, who form the great majority of the membership.
NAFTA DEALT BLOW BY WTO [STEEL] RULING
World body says U.S. acted illegally by exempting members from steel tariffs, by BARRIE McKENNA, The Globe and Mail, July 12, 2003
The World Trade Organization has dealt a major blow to the North American free-trade agreement by ruling the United States acted illegally by exempting Canada and its other free-trade partners from punishing tariffs on imported steel. The decision, part of a sweeping indictment of U.S. efforts last year to block a flood of imported steel, raises questions about the ability of NAFTA partners to offer each other special treatment, trade experts said Ottawa reacted swiftly, saying it intends to join with the United States in appealing the ruling released yesterday by a WTO dispute settlement panel in Geneva.
NEW VIDEO: WTO: WHY IS IT BAD FOR YOU
Focus, July 2003
Let people from around the world explain why the WTO is BAD for YOU. The video strips away jargon and exposes the WTO for what it really is! This is documentary interviews eminent people from around the globe who work on the WTO and related issues.
MULTILATERAL PUNISHMENT: THE PHILIPPINES IN THE WTO, 1995 - 2003
Report By Walden Bello, July 2003
The membership of the Philippines in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its implementation of trade agreements under the multilateral trading system has been an unmitigated disaster. This is the strong assertion of Walden Bello, Executive Director of Focus on the Global South in his recent report entitled Multilateral Punishment: The Philippines in the WTO, 1995-2003.The report traces the Philippine experience under the WTO starting with the Senate ratification debates in 1995 and the subsequent implementation of government policies and programs that opened up the local economy to global competition.
RUSSIA TO JOIN DOHA DISCUSSION
WTO Membership Seen in 2006, Moscow Times, by Lyuba Pronina, July 17, 2003
Russia is on track to enter the World Trade Organization in 2006, top government officials said Wednesday, but in the meantime they want to see a number of contentious issues resolved in the countrys favor .WTO Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi said last month that the organization aims to include Russia by the end of next year, in time for Moscow to participate in the current Doha round of trade talks, due to close in January 2005.
Ottawa unable to lift Japans beef ban, The Globe and Mail, by SHAWN McCARTHY and DAWN WALTON, July 14, 2003
The federal government has been stymied in its efforts to persuade Japanese officials to reopen their market to Canadian beef raising questions about how quickly the U.S. border will open .Lifting the Japanese ban is key because Tokyo has threatened to ban U.S. imports of beef if the United States opens its border to Canadian beef. About 34 countries, including Mexico, have closed their borders to Canadian beef after a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was discovered on an Alberta farm.
U.S. FDA SAYS FEED MAKER ADMITS TO MAD COW VIOLATION
Reuters, July 14, 2003
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said a Washington state livestock feed manufacturer admitted selling adulterated and misbranded feed that violated federal rules to prevent mad cow disease. But the FDA said there was little risk from the contaminated animal feed because the United States has never had a case of mad cow disease.
EU TO HOLD OFF ON WTO AGRICULTURE PROPOSAL AS CANCUN FEARS RISE
Inside US Trade, July 11, 2003
The European Commission is not planning to make a new negotiating proposal to advance the agriculture negotiations of the World Trade Organization that would reflect the additional flexibility it has obtained through its reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy approved last month, according to EU officials. Instead, the Commission will wait to see what additional concessions other key WTO members such as theU.S. are willing to make before revealing the extent of its negotiating flexibility, these officials said.
U.S. SENATE CTEE INSISTS EU IS THE PROBLEM ON SUBSIDIES
GRASSLEY TELLS HARBINSON THAT HIS WTO PAPER FALLS SHORT OF U.S.GOALS, Inside US Trade, July 11, 2003
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) this week told the chairman of World Trade Organization negotiations on agriculture that the current draft paper on modalities does not do enough to lower tariffs for U.S. exports and is therefore unacceptable to the Senate Finance Committee. Grassley also told Chairman Stuart Harbinson in a July 10 meeting that the European Union must agree to harmonize its levels of trade-distorting subsidies to U.S. limits in order for the Finance Committee to approve a deal.
2. GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)
Most in US Would Shun Labeled Biotech Foods - Poll, Reuters, July 16, 2003
More than half of American adults surveyed said they would be less likely to buy a food product at the grocery store if it carried a label saying it contained gene-altered ingredients, according to an ABC News poll released yesterday.
EU COMMISSION TO FORCE MEMBER STATES TO PERMIT GMO
EU Takes Member States to Court Over GMOs, Reuters, July 16, 2003
The EU Commission, fending off a trade suit over Europes refusal to import genetically modified organisms (GMOs), turned its fire on 11 EU states yesterday for failing to adopt new rules on GMO permits. The Commission, the European Unions executive arm, said it was taking 11 out of 15 governments to court as they had not implemented the main new EU rules on approving GMO crops that should have been in place last October .The United States, Canada and Argentina are challenging the EU ban, which they say blocks their exports, at the World Trade Organization. The Commission, which handles trade matters on behalf of the 15 member states, repeated its position that it has no case to answer as the main rules are now in place and the EU was likely to start issuing new permits before the end of the year.
EU FOOD AGENCY TAKES AIM AT AUSTRIAN BAN
New EU Food Body Sees No Reason for Austria GMO Ban, Reuters, July 11, 2003
Austria has presented no scientific evidence that would justify creating a genetically modified organism-free zone, a new European Union food safety agency said yesterday. European Food Safety Agency scientists have concluded there is no new scientific evidence, in the recently submitted report, to justify the banning of certain GMOs in upper Austria, it said in a statement.
ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP WARNS OF SUPERWEEDS
UK Risks Superweed GM Pollution - Green Group, Reuters, July 10, 2003
Superweeds could start growing in the British countryside due to cross-pollination with genetically modified (GM) oilseed rape if the latter is grown commercially, an environmental lobby group said on Thursday.
TOP THREE COUNTRIES ADVANCING GMO IN AFRICA
Kenya Doing Well in Genetic Research, New Study Shows, The Nation (Nairobi), by Jeff Otieno, July 15, 2003
Kenya is ranked third in genetic engineering research in Africa, behind South Africa and Egypt .The technology, through which genes from one organism to another are transferred, has met stiff opposition in Europe and Africa .There was a chance that Kenyans were consuming GMOs coming into the country in form of food aid. We receive so much food aid from America and we might just be consuming GMOs because the products are not labelled, she said, and named some of the common foods received from America, the world leading producer of GMOs, as maize and soya beans.
3. SOFTWOOD LUMBER
Canada, U.S. lumber sectors claim NAFTA softwood win, CP, July 17, 2003
A powerful U.S. lobby group said the ruling by a disputes-resolution panel of the North American Free Trade Agreement confirmed Canadian lumber exporters were dumping wood into the American market at below cost. But a Canadian industry representative argued the highly technical, 190-page ruling proves nothing and in fact will likely reduce the average 8 per cent anti-dumping duties now being added to Canadian softwood sold into the U.S. market. The only thing thats clear is the decision does nothing to bring an end to the decades-old lumber trade war. NAFTA is due to release a much more important decision on the countervailing duty in mid-August. Canada sells about $10 billion worth of lumber into the United States, making up about one-third of the American market. Half the wood comes from British Columbia.
SOFTWOOD DUTIES UPHELD BY NAFTA PANEL
Globe and Mail, by DARREN YOURK, July 17, 2003
A NAFTA dispute panel upheld U.S. antidumping duties on Canadian softwood lumber Thursday, saying the U.S. Commerce Department followed the law in conducting its investigation.
NAFTA PANEL ORDERS U.S. TO CORRECT FLAWED SOFTWOOD ANTI-DUMPING DETERMINATION
DFAIT Press Release, July 17, 2003
The panel told the U.S. to correct its flawed determination, said Minister Pettigrew. Canada will continue to pursue all avenues to defend its softwood lumber industry, including its other WTO and NAFTA challenges.
NAFTA PANEL SEEKS INFO ON LUMBER DISPUTE
Associated Press, by Tom Cohen, July 17, 2003
A North American Free Trade Agreement panel asked the U.S. government Thursday to explain and adjust its calculations of antidumping duties imposed on Canadian softwood lumber. The report focused on one part of the 27 percent countervailing and punitive duties the United States placed on Canadian softwood lumber imports last year in the latest chapter of a long-standing trade dispute.
4. IMF (International Monetary Fund) & THE WORLD BANK
Is the German disease curable? We Should Not Lose More Time, Interview: Horst Köhler, head of the International Monetary Fund, Manager magazine (mm), June 20, 2003
Köhler: Of course .
Köhler: The over-regulation of the labor market must be ended and above all more differentiation in wage agreements should be permitted at the company level. Then pensions and health insurance must urgently be freed from the burden of unpayable claims. And finally, education and training must be reformed. That is true above all for the universities. We need more competition between the universities, and university teachers who have time for students. Germany will only have a chance, if it is a leader in science and technology.
WORLD BANK RUMORED TO SUPPORT PRIVATE WATER MERGER IN AFRICA
Water Utility Firms Merger Unsettles Union Leaders, The Times of Zambia (Ndola), July 15, 2003
UNION leaders from three water utilities companies on the Copperbelt have asked Government to clarify reports that it intended to merge the firms. Zambia United Local Authorities Workers Union (Zulawu) officials from Kafubu, Mulonga and Nkana water and sewerage companies said plans were under way to form a Copperbelt Water and Sewerage Company to be funded by the World Bank.
IMF CONSULTATION ON DEBT SUSTAINABILITY IN LOW-INCOME COUNTRIES
IMF Soliciting Public Comment Related to the Design of an Operational Framework for Assessing Debt Sustainability in Low-Income Countries, IMF Press Release, July 15, 2003
This framework is being developed in close collaboration with the World Bank and in consultation with donors and the low-income countries. It is intended to provide case-by-case guidance to countries that have already received permanent debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative and to guide other low-income countries where debt is potentially an issue.
Please send your comments by September 30, 2003 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LOW LABOR COSTS NOT ENOUGH TO ATTRACT INVESTMENT: IMF REPORT ON BANGLADESH
Bangladesh: 2003 Article IV Consultation and Request for a Three-Year Arrangement Under the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility, IMF Report, June 2003
Four key structural weaknesses have constrained investment and growth below potential. private investment has been held back by a combination of a high cost of borrowing, bottlenecks in physical infrastructure, inadequate human capital investment, and poor economic governance. Thus, Bangladesh has not attracted substantial foreign direct investment in spite of its low labor costs.
5. FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) & NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
An early chill on November trade meeting: Fearing protests, big event canceled, Miami Herald, by JANE BUSSEY, July 17, 2003
Organizers of the November meeting of the hemispheres trade ministers in Miami, citing fears of disruptive protests, have canceled one of the parallel events scheduled for business leaders. The decision to call off the day of matchmaker meetings, aimed at hooking up potential business partners from the region, stressed the local concern with security surrounding the Nov. 20-21 meeting, where 34 trade ministers are expected to discuss the state of negotiations for a proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas.
LULA ATTACKS U.S. TRADE STANCE
BBC News, July 14, 2003
The president of Brazil has spoken out against any notion of the United States being the dominant force in the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and called for fairer negotiations.
BRAZIL ARRESTS PROTEST LEADER
Landless Leader Arrested (Compiled from AFP, DPA, Reuters), July 12, 2003
On July 11, Brazilian police arrested Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) leader JosÚ Rainha and his adviser, Felinto Procopio, on an arrest order issued by a local judge in Teodoro Sampaio, Sao Paulo state. Rainha faces charges of criminal association and theft for organizing the occupation of a ranch in 2000 in which several landless rural workers allegedly stole cattle and destroyed crops. Rainha was arrested after testifying in another case in which MST members were charged with illegal possession of firearms.
MIAMI LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO BE FTAA HOME BASE
Florida FTAA launches 33-country outreach effort, South Florida Business Journal, July 15, 2003
Florida FTAA, the Miami-based nonprofit group working to bring the permanent secretariat of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) to Miami, said it has begun a campaign to reach out to the 33 nations involved in FTAA negotiations.
HOW NAFTA FARED IN THE LOEWEN RULING
The Globe and Mail, Commentary, July 12, 2003
An international NAFTA tribunal recently rejected a Chapter 11 damage claim filed by former Canadian funeral giant Loewen Group, even though the panel agreed that Loewen had been badly wronged in a 1995 Mississippi civil trial that helped precipitate the companys fall into bankruptcy. The tribunal found that the whole trial and its resultant verdict were clearly improper and discreditable and cannot be squared with minimum standards of international law and fair and equitable treatment. But it also ruled that Loewen did not have a claim under NAFTA because it had failed to pursue all the existing legal remedies available to it through the U.S. court system.
NAFTA SIDE COMMISSION CONSULTS ON CITIZEN PROCESS
Public review on issues related to Articles 14 and 15 of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, CEC Press Release, July 17, 2003
The citizen submissions process under Articles 14 and 15 of the NAAEC plays a unique and indispensable role in fostering vigorous environmental enforcement but is still a source of frustration for JPAC and the North American public .Two specific issues are of concern to JPAC regarding the implementation and further elaboration of Articles 14 and 15. JPAC would like to receive comments and then invite the members of the public to attend a JPAC public meeting on these matters.
NEW ORLEANS PREPS FOR CAFTA CONFERENCE
..The sixth round of talks for the proposed U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, are scheduled July 28-Aug. 1 in New Orleans, which merely is serving as the host. The NO CAFTA Coalition is planning several marches in the Crescent City, including one on July 26 to unwelcome the CAFTA summit and another on July 28 to interrupt and disrupt the usual business day, and reclaim the streets in opposition to CAFTA, free trade, and capitalism, according to the groups Web site STOPCAFTA.org.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS FOR PROTEST AGAINST CAFTA: JULY 15-AUG 2
NOACB, July 16, 2003
Analysis: Other Fish in the Sea, but for How Long?, ENS, by Janet Larsen
A recent review of marine fisheries concluded that a startling 90 percent of the worlds large predatory fish, including tuna, swordfish, cod, halibut, and flounder, have disappeared in the past 50 years.
UGANDA GOVERNMENT PAYS PRIVATE WATER BILL IN ADVANCE
NWSC to Receive Prepaid Water Bills, by Ebenezer Bifubyeka, New Vision (Kampala), July 16, 2003
NATIONAL water and sewerage Corporation (NWSC) has signed a memorandum of understanding with ministries and agreed to pay water bills in advance, to avoid arrears. NWSC regional manager, Joseph Kaamu, told journalists at his Mbarara office on Monday, that all the ministries have been subjected to pre-payment because they have been taking long to process the payments. With effect from July 1 2003, ministries will start paying us in advance before we give them water, he said.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS AND COMMUNITY RELOCATION STALL HUGE CANADIAN GOLD MINE IN ROMANIA
Romanian PM casts doubts over Canadian gold plan, Reuters, July 11, 2003
Romania yesterday dealt a new blow to a Canadian gold companys hopes of developing Europes biggest open-cast mine in the Carpathian mountains, saying it was reluctant to approve the $500 million project. Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said his government did not like a recent parliamentary report giving Toronto-based Gabriel Resources Ltd a conditional green light to drill for over 500,000 tonnes of gold a year in Transylvania .Environmentalists, historians and human rights groups also oppose the project, which requires moving thousands of people to make way for drilling sites in an area where the Romans mined for gold 2,000 years ago.
BRITAIN GIVES MAJOR BOOST TO OFFSHORE WIND POWER
Reuters, July 15, 2003
Britain is pushing ahead with a huge expansion of offshore wind farms which could supply green power to more than three million households and create 20,000 new jobs, the government said . A recent study commissioned by the government showed offshore wind could supply between four and seven percent of the UKs power by 2010.
SYDNEY RESIDENTS TO LAUNCH MASSIVE LAWSUIT OVER TAR PONDS
A lawyer representing more than 200 Sydney, N.S., residents will give notice of intended action this week on a massive lawsuit that claims pollution in the Cape Breton community caused widespread health problems and even death. Raymond Wagner of Wagner and Associates in Halifax said Monday his law firm will issue a notice of action within days to the Nova Scotia government. Its believed the claimants will be seeking compensation in the tens of millions of dollars.
Howard fears impact of US budget deficit blow-out, Sydney Morning Herald, by Mark Riley, July 17 2003
The Prime Minister, John Howard, has warned that the burgeoning US budget deficit may be a threat to world economies .I, among others, remain concerned at the growth in the size of the budget deficit in the United States because of the impact that will have not only on the economy of that country but also upon expectations on future economic growth and future economic development, he said yesterday. The White House budget office estimates the US budget deficit will soar to $US455 billion [$700 billion] this year. This would easily eclipse the previous record deficit of $US290 billion in 1992 under George Bush snr.
AUSTRALIA GETS REWARDED
All the way with FTA?, ZNet Commentary, by Sean Healy, July 16, 2003
When they met over steaks and beer at the US presidents Texas ranch, the discussion between John Howard and George Bush turned quickly to the Australian governments reward for participating in the Iraq war. And this, we are told, is it a free trade agreement (FTA) between the US and Australia which will further integrate Australia into the US economy, gut existing social and environmental policies and allow freer reign to giant US corporations.
CORPORATIONS ACCUSED OF MANIPULATING SCIENCE ON A REGULAR BASIS
Health Advocacy Group Warns of Conflicted Science, by J.R. Pegg, ENS, July 14, 2003
Powerful corporate interests continue to use science and scientists to manipulate public opinion and influence public policy on health and the environment, experts said at a conference Friday. The public may be aware of several prominent examples such as lead, tobacco and asbestos, but the publicized cases are the tip of the iceberg, said Drummond Rennie, the deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
RICH NATIONS COME UNDER FIRE FROM UNDP
The Herald (Harare), July 15, 2003
RICH nations have come under fire for engaging in unfair trade practices which stifle growth of the least developing countries. In its latest report, the United Nations Development Programme blasted Western countries and urged them to desist from engaging in the discriminatory practices. Trade policies in rich countries have remained highly discriminatory against products produced in poorest countries. There is enormous scope for rich countries to expand market access and promote imports from poor countries by reducing tariffs and subsidies, said the UN.
JULY 22: INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ACTION AGAINST COKE
World Social Forum has declared the 22nd July, as the International Day of Action against Coca Cola, and the start of a boycott of all its products. These actions are in solidarity with SINALTRAINAL, the Colombian Food and Drinks Workers Union.
SINALTRAINAL have suffered the assassination of 8 union leaders, killed by paramilitaries financed by Coca Cola management, as well as the disappearance, arbitrary detention, torture, kidnap and sacking of hundreds more of their workers at Coca Cola bottling plants throughout Colombia. In a court case in the USA, brought by the United Steelworkers Union, in solidarity with SINALTRAINAL, a judge has ruled that Coca Colas bottlers have a case to answer, but the multinational refuses to cooperate with
the union, and continues its policy of repression.
SOCIAL INVESTMENT QUESTIONS FOOD INDUSTRY
Socially aware investors mull junk food debate, Reuters, July 15, 2003
Some socially responsible investors who avoid putting their money in companies that make weapons, cigarettes or beer are pondering whether to take a tougher stance on makers of fat-laden, high-sugar foods. Socially aware mutual funds, which avoid some business sectors as well as corporations they think have poor environmental or labor practices, typically have no formal policies on nutrition. But the issue has become hot as companies such as fast-food chain McDonalds Corp. MCD.N come under fire from critics who say junk food contributes to growing health problems such as obesity and diabetes, particularly among children.
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.