September 29, 2003
1. WTO (World Trade Organisation)
B.L. DASS PAPER ON SALVAGING WTO FROM CANCUN COLLAPSE TWN, Info Service on WTO Issues, September 28, 2003
The developed countries should consider the following approach: 1. They should lower their sights and ambitions in the WTO . 2. They should allow the system to settle down and not destabilize it by insisting on introducing new subjects in the negotiations. 3. They should be constructive in the area of agriculture 4. They should give up their old mind set of monopolizing the management of the GATT/WTO 5. More basically, they should realize that their own growth will be helped by the development of the developing countries
CLOSED DOOR WTO COMMITTEE BRAINSTORMING FOR SOLUTIONS
After Cancun, WTO Panel Seeks an End to Gridlock, Wall Street Journal, by SCOTT MILLER September 29, 2003
Spurred by the breakdown of global trade talks two weeks ago, a committee assembled by the World Trade Organization is considering ways to simplify the consensus decision-making model that has made it almost impossible for the 146-nation group to reach agreements. Cancun has added urgency to the process, said committee Chairman Peter Sutherland, who is also chairman of BP PLC, referring to the collapse of talks at the Mexican resort. The WTO has to be protected. In interviews last week, Mr. Sutherland and two other members of the eight-member committee, which is little known outside of trade experts, described possible changes being discussed.
STUNNED IN GENEVA: WTO POST-CANCUN
WTO: UNCERTAINTY DOMINATES AS MEMBERS RETURN TO GENEVA PROCESS, Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest, September 25, 2003
For the time being, the WTO stands practically empty, with a number of staff on vacation and the next negotiating meeting, a Committee on Agriculture Special Session, scheduled for 6-9 October, closely followed by negotiating sessions on rules and services. These meetings, if held as planned, may give an indication of where Members stand on certain issues, although little movement is expected before the December GC meeting if then.
CANCUN ISSUES TO BE RAISED AT APEC MEETING: OCTOBER
SUMMIT AGENDA: Terror, trade to dominate talks, The Nation, September 29, 2003
Global security, Singapore issues sure to come up, Foreign Ministry officials say Terrorism and the recent collapse of international trade negotiations are among the global issues set to dominate the debate at Octobers summit of Apec leaders in Bangkok, senior Foreign Ministry officials said over the weekend .As the host of the Apec summit, Thailand is ready to talk if any Apec members wish to explore the possibility of making progress on issues discussed at the WTO meeting, said Pisan, who also appeared at the media briefing .Pisan said that of the four Singapore issues, Thailand was willing to compromise on two: government procurement and trade facilitation.
US WAS NOT INTERESTED OR IMCOMPETENT: FORMER MEXICAN PRESIDENT
Zedillo lays blame for WTO debacle, Yale Daily News, by Brian Murphy, September 29, 2003 Yale Center for the Study of Globalization Director and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo GRD 81 said the United States and Europe were at fault for the failure of the negotiations. The fundamental cause is Europe and the U.S. are not being serious yet in these negotiations, Zedillo said . Zedillo said the United States damaged its credibility when, despite pledging its support to the Doha round, it still adopted the Farm Bill and new steel tariffs, both of which serve as barriers to free trade. When the situation became critical, we had a foolish decision on the part of the U.S., Zedillo said. I dont understand this decision. Either they were not interested in the round or they were simply incompetent.
SRI LANKA THANKED BY US FOR PRO-US STANCE IN CANCUN
Lanka pushes for a new US-EU friendly world grouping, Hindustan Times, September 29, 2003
Sri Lanka is forming a new group of nations called the Like Minded Group (LMG) to steer the Third World countries from their traditional non-aligned and anti-West posture, so that they may benefit from globalisation and also ensure their security in the emerging international scenario, The Sunday Leader reports . Meanwhile, in appreciation of Sri Lankas pro-US and pro-EU stand in the Cancun world trade conference, the US Trade Representative, Robert B Zoellick, wrote to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe thanking Commerce Minister Ravi Karunanayake and his team for their hard work to promote a successful result. Zoellick hoped that eventually the rancour exhibited by some countries would abate and all nations would adopt a constructive attitude to achieve significant economic gains. Zoellick went on to say that the Deputy US Trade Representative, Josette Shiner, and First Assistant USTR for South Asia, former Ambassador Ashley Wills, would be visiting Sri Lanka in mid October.
THE HEAVY PRICE OF WTO MEMBERSHIP: CAMBODIA & NEPAL
Asia Times, by Alan Boyd, September 30, 2003
Cambodia and Nepal have become uncomfortable symbols of the failure of international trade negotiations after their acceptance as the newest and poorest members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) . The immediate price being paid is a package of tariff concessions and liberalization obligations so binding that they threaten to stifle the same development strategies that were designed to benefit from membership of the elite trading family.
MAUDES CANCUN MEMOIRE
Council of Canadians, by Maude Barlow
Having recently returned from the 5th Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Cancun, Mexico (September 10-14), I wanted to share my experiences and observations while they are still fresh in my mind and my heart.
CHINA NOT HONOURING ITS WTO PROMISES, AMERICAN REPORT CLAIMS
South China Morning Post, by Allen T. Cheng, September 23, 2003
US corporations on the mainland are growing increasingly dissatisfied with the way the central government is implementing promises made in its accession agreement to the World Trade Organisation, a report said yesterday. There has been little progress in sensitive areas such as financial services, agriculture and distribution, said the report by the American Chamber of Commerce in China and the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.
NGOs SEEN AS REASON FOR TALKS FAILURE
The Nation (Thailand), September 23, 2003
International trade sources believe non-governmental organisations were responsible for last weeks walkout by African, Caribbean and Pacific countries at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Cancun, which led to a collapse of the global trade talks.
The NGOs played an important role in persuading them to block the progress of talks in order to protect their interests, said an international trade expert who attended the WTO ministerial conference.
WTO & AGRICULTURE
Farm subsidisers face litigation, Business Report, by Patrick Baert and Deborah Haynes,
War clouds loomed over the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as a peace clause, which has protected countries that subsidise their farmers, was due to expire at the start of next year, global trade experts have said .The abrupt end to the Cancun meeting spoilt plans to discuss extending the nine-year peace clause, which was born out of the 1994 Uruguay round and prevents countries from complaining to a dispute settlement body about agriculture subsidies by other member states. Experts said a WTO meeting in Geneva in mid-December was the last chance of an extension, but developing nations that suffered most from heavily subsidised exports were unlikely to agree without concessions from key culprits such as the European Union (EU) and Japan . The combative G22 alliance of developing countries, which includes Brazil and other members of the 17-nation Cairns Group of agricultural exporters, is most likely to use the powers unleashed as the clause expires.
EURO COMMISSION PROPOSES FURTHER FARM SUBSIDY CUTS
Sugar, cotton, tobacco and olive oil were not part of the CAP reform package, adopted by the EU in June 2003. Under the new proposal, presented by the Commission on 23 September, 60 per cent of the subsidies for cotton and olive oil would not longer be tied to production. All production subsidies for tobacco would be abolished over a period of three years. Instead, payments to farmers would be linked to the respect of environmental and food safety standards.
AGRICULTURAL INVESTMENT KEY TO ALLEVIATING AFRICAS HUNGER - UN OFFICIAL
UN FAO, September 24, 2003
A top United Nations official today called for more investment in Africas agricultural sector in order to boost food production and alleviate the chronic hunger that bedevils one in every three sub-Saharan Africans . UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jacques Diouf said for political rather than technical reasons, under-nourishment was more prevalent in Africa than in Asia and the Pacific, Latin America or the Caribbean.
2. GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)
Reuters, September 26, 2003
EU agriculture ministers will lay bare their divisions over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) next week when they discuss guidelines on growing biotech crops in Europes fields, officials said yesterday .But an EU official said Austria and Luxembourg, two of the blocs most GMO-skeptic states, might find themselves in a minority as other traditionally hostile countries such as France were pushing for a solution behind the scenes .This is one of the last pieces in the legal puzzle on GMOs in Europe. Rules for growing gene crops are already in place, while legislation for labeling food and animal feed containing GMOs is being rubber-stamped and should apply by spring 2004. EU member states are split over seed purity rules. Setting levels for GMO content in seed for organic and conventional crop cultivation is necessary for the EU to end its unofficial five-year ban on biotech crops.
UK ATTITUDES ABOUT BIOTECH: CONCERN AND MISTRUST
GM Nation? Report Published, Canadian Biotechnology Advisory Committee Press Release, September 25, 2003
The report from GM Nation? - the national debate on GM issues held all over the UK this summer is now public. The main messages coming from participants in the open debate, and in a parallel series of discussion groups conducted at the same time, are: People in the UK are generally uneasy about GM, The further people go into GM issues the harder their attitudes become and the more intense their concerns, There is little support for early commercialisation of GM crops, There is widespread public mistrust of Government and of the multi-national companies involved in GM, People generally want to know more and want more research to be done The report was delivered to the British Government and the devolved administrations.
RATS JOIN LIST OF CLONED ANIMALS
Reuters, September 26, 2003
A team of researchers at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Jouy en Josas, France, and a company called GenOway said yesterday they had cloned the favored laboratory animal for many researchers, and hope the technology will provide better animals for future research.
BRAZILIAN FARMERS ABOUT TO PLANT LEGAL GM SOY
Reuters, September 25, 2003
Farmers in Brazil will soon plant genetically modified soybeans legally, Vice President Jose Alencar said yesterday, adding that he would sign a decree authorizing GM soy while temporarily acting as president. Until recently, Brazil has been one of the worlds last major agricultural exporters to ban GM crops, although soy farmers have ignored the ban and smuggled in illegal transgenic soy seeds from Argentina for years . Environmental group Greenpeace in Brazil said it would go to the courts to try to suspend the decree, which is due to be published soon by the government. The provisional decree is an affront to the decision of the courts which demanded environmental impact and health risk studies before liberating commercial transgenic soy planting, Greenpeace spokeswoman Tatiana Carvalho told Reuters.
EXPORTERS FEAR GMO THREAT: UGANDA
The Monitor (Kampala), by Dorothy Nakaweesi, September 29, 2003
Exporters of organic-grown foods fear that the introduction of genetically modified organisms to Uganda could endanger their business. The market for organic food in the US alone is worth about $20million per year. The recent decision to introduce genetically modified organisms to Uganda could mean that American buyers distrust Ugandan organic produce.
3. IMF (International Monetary Fund) & The World Bank
The Guardian, by Charlotte Denny and Larry Elliott, September 19, 2003
The International Monetary Fund yesterday warned that the colossal United States trade deficit was a noose around the neck of the economy, emphasising that the once mighty dollar could collapse at any moment. Arguing that the worlds big economies were already too dependent on the willingness of American consumers to live beyond their means, the IMF said the US could not continue to run a current account deficit of 5% of GDP. The IMFs chief economist Kenneth Rogoff said that it was just a matter of time before the gap closed, tipping the dollar into a potentially steep fall.
RICH NATIONS MUST BREAK TRADE IMPASSE TO FIGHT POVERTY: WORLD BANK
Agence France Presse, by SAM DAGHER, September 23, 2003
World Bank president James Wolfensohn It is time to take a cold, hard look at the future. Our planet is not balanced, he added. The recent impasse in Cancun is a case in point, he said, pointing to the failure earlier this month of vital World Trade Organization (WTO) talks in the Mexican resort. Two thirds of the worlds poor people depend on agriculture for their livelihood. As the developing nations see it, rich nations put forward proposals that did not respond to their central demands in this crucial area, he said. At Cancun, developing nations signalled [sic] that for there to be peace and sustainable development, there must be a set of different priorities. We need a new global equilibrium, a new balance in the relationship between rich and poor nations.
BRAZIL, ARGENTINA AND THE IMF: HARD OR SOFT?
The Economist, September 25, 2003
Argentinas defiance of its creditors has not eased Brazils financial dilemmas
Argentinas pugnacious president, is making life awkward for his opposite number in Brazil. Earlier this month, he briefly stopped repaying a loan from the International Monetary Fund and was rewarded with a new credit on easy terms. This week he demanded that private creditors swallow a 75% write-down in the value of debt on which Argentina defaulted in 2001. That would be the biggest haircut in the recent history of debt restructuring. All of this puts pressure on Brazils left-wing president, Luiz In½cio Lula da Silva. Brazils $30 billion IMF agreement expires in December. Should he follow Argentinas bold example, by demanding more flexibility from the Fund, or even forswear an agreement altogether? Brazils recession and Mr da Silvas own history of IMF bashing make either of those options tempting. But the odds are that he will resist.
4. FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) & NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
Inside US Trade, September 19, 2003
U.S. business organizations will next week send a letter to the Bush Administration arguing that U.S. trade negotiators should resist any attempts to water down a Free Trade Area of the Americas, and should continue to push for the inclusion of ambitious rules for investment, services, government procurement and intellectual property rights in light of the breakdown of World Trade Organization negotiations at last weeks Cancun ministerial
.The next meeting of the FTAAs Trade Negotiations Committee, slated for Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Trinidad and Tobago, will be fundamental in determining how negotiations proceed from this point on, said the Brazilian official.
RECENT DRAFT OF FTAA TEXT LEAKED
September 29, 2003
Today, a group in Uruguay released a leak version of the text, with some sections dated as late as September 17. The leaked version is in Spanish.
TRADE REPS FROM THE AMERICANS DISCUSS ROAD MAP TO FTAA
The Miami Herald, by JANE BUSSEY, September 20, 2003
Brazil and the United States appear headed for a showdown on the scope of a proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, according to trade negotiators attending a preliminary meeting this week in the capital of Trinidad and Tobago. The meeting of the Trade Negotiating Committee the last scheduled meeting before the November trade ministerial in Miami to discuss the FTAA is set to open today in Port of Spain. The deputy trade ministers gathered this week are trying to establish a road map for the final phase of FTAA negotiations.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS IN MIAMI
Citizens Trade Campaign:
FTAA TROTEST RULES CHALLENGED
NBC 6 South Florida, September 25, 2003
A controversial plan to limit protests at the upcoming talks in Miami for a proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is sparking outrage, and some of those opposed to the new rules brought their concerns to City Hall on Thursday.
MIAMI PLANS TO PREVENT DISRUPTIONS DURING TRADE TALKS
Floridabiz.com, b y Steve Ellman, September 23, 2003
Two months before thousands of demonstrators are expected to descend on Miami to protest high-level international trade talks, civil liberties activists and anti-globalization groups say police are interfering with free speech rights. Protesters and their attorneys claim police officials are stalling the issuing of permits that would allow rallies and parades in the downtown area to oppose a planning conference for the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT VISITS CUBA
Da Silva visits Castro; trade, politics on agenda, The Miami Herald, by NANCY SAN MARTIN, September 27, 2003
Brazilian President Luiz In½cio Lula da Silva and a 100-member entourage arrived in Havana on Friday to a red-carpet greeting by Cuban President Fidel Castro, an old friend and supporter. Da Silva was expected to discuss regional trade, aid and political integration with Castro and sign several agreements with Cuba before leaving Havana today.
JUST SAY NO TO CAFTA: EVENTS
Just Say No to CAFTA, Houston, Texas
Anti-CAFTA Events: A variety of events will be happening throughout the fall
CAFTA Negotiations: October 20 - 24, 2003
TRADE IMPACTS LOCAL JOBS
Times-Journal, by Steven Stiefel, September 26, 2003
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nation has shed 2.5 million manufacturing jobs since President George W. Bush took office. Trade policies, including the North American Free Trade Agreement and those of the World Trade Organization, have helped multinational corporations ship manufacturing jobs to nations with few labor and environmental protections, according to Jim Leonard, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce over textiles.
BusinessWorld, by Eusebio Jacinto, Jr., et al, September 29, 2003
Mere liberalization of fisheries trade does not guarantee either resource sustainability or food security, particularly food security based on self-sufficiency or self-reliance on local food resources. On the contrary, it will only worsen resource depletion and threaten food security, especially that of local communities that have traditionally used and depended on the now heavily traded fishery and coastal resources.
OZONE HOLE BIGGER THAN NORTH AMERICA
Ozone Hole Over Antarctic Equals 2000 Record - UN, Reuters, September 22, 2003
The ozone hole over the Antarctic has equalled the 2000 record, covering an area larger than North America, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said last week.
EURO INVESTMENT BANK APPEALS FOR ENVIRO CREDIT
European Investment Bank defends its environmental credentials, EuroActiv, September 22, 2003
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the biggest public lender in the world with a current portfolio of investments in about 140 countries and an annual lending in the range of 36 billion Euro .The CEE Bankwatch Network is an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) It aims to prevent environmentally and socially harmful impacts of international development finance, and to promote alternative solutions and public participation . However, the CEE Bankwatch Network considers that the lending portfolio of EIB in Eastern and Central Europe promotes to a large extent environmentally unfriendly investments.
MINISTER ANDERSON TO ATTEND THE WORLD CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE IN RUSSIA
Environment Canada Press Release, September 26, 2003
Media representatives are advised that the Honourable David Anderson, Minister of the Environment, will be in Moscow, Russia from September 29 to October 3, 2003 to attend the World Climate Change Conference (WCCC).
PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON ROAD SALTS PROPOSAL
Environment Canada - National Office of Pollution Prevention, September 23, 2003
Environment Canada has published the proposed Code of Practice for the Environmental Management of Road Salts, which aims to reduce the harmful environmental effects of road salts without compromising road safety. The Code provides recommendations to road authorities that use more than 500 tonnes of road salts per winter, relating to the development of management plans for the storage, use and disposal of road salts. Environment Canada is inviting the public to comment on the proposed Code by 19 November 2003, and will publish the final version in 2004.
NATIONAL HEARINGS ON HEALTH, ENVIRONMENT AND CITIES
National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, Environmental and Economics Program
The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy will be holding information sessions entitled Securing our Wealth: Investing in the Environmental Quality of Canadian Cities, with the purpose of encouraging discussion between municipal leaders, experts and citizens to improve the environmental and economic performance of Canadian cities.
RUSSIA LINKS KYOTO RATIFICATION WITH WTO
Ecologists slam Russia over delay in ratifying Kyoto accord, AFP, September 28, 2003
Environmental protection groups Sunday slammed Russia for resorting to delaying manoeuvres and linking its ratification of the Kyoto treaty on reducing emissions of dangerous greenhouse gases to its entry into the World Trade Organisation.
PUTIN: NO DECISION ON KYOTO
Reuters, September 29, 2003
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday the Russian government was studying the ratification of the Kyoto protocol on global warming but gave no indication of when the country might give its approval. The whole Kyoto protocol stands and falls with Russia, said Boerge Brende, the head of a U.N. committee following up environmental pledges made at an Earth Summit in Johannesburg last year. Kyoto aims to reduce rich nations emissions of gases like carbon dioxide, blanketing the planet and driving up temperatures, by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12. Moscow has a veto because Kyoto cannot enter into force until countries representing 55 percent of emissions have ratified, up from the 44 percent so far. Russia accounts for 17 percent while the U.S. share was 36 percent.
BIGGEST EVER STUDY ON HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENT
MILLENNIUM ECOSYSTEM ASSESSMENT RELEASES FIRST REPORT,
EXAMINES LINKS BETWEEN ENVIRONMENT, DEVELOPMENT, UNEP Press Release, September 24, 2003
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), the most extensive study ever of the linkages between the worlds ecosystems and human well-being, today released its first report, Ecosystems and Human Well-being . The MA has been recognized by governments as a mechanism to meet part of the assessment needs of four international environmental treaties the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, and the Convention on Migratory Species.Ê
WORLD HABITAT DAY: CLEAN WATER AND CITIES
PROVIDING URBAN POOR WITH CLEAN WATER AND DECENT SANITATION,
FOCUS OF ANNUAL WORLD HABITAT DAY, UN-Habitat Press Release, September 24, 2003
World Habitat Day will be held on Monday, 6 October 2003. On this day, the United Nations calls upon the international community to help raise awareness about the state of our cities and, in particular, the 1 billion poor people living under the most appalling conditions in the slums and squatter settlements that surround so many cities and towns around the world. This years theme of Water and Sanitation in Cities has been chosen to help raise awareness about the urgent need to meet the Millennium Development Goal committed to halving the number of poor people without clean water and adequate sanitation by 2015.
Deals Are Unlikely To Net Much Of A Catch, Financial Times, September 29, 2003
After the World Trade Organisations Cancun meeting collapsed this month, Robert Zoellick, US trade representative, said he would no longer sit by while wont do countries blocked progress in the Doha trade round. Instead, he would forge bilateral and regional trade deals with the can dos. Mr Zoellick hopes to open US export markets and to spur competitive liberalisation, unleashing pressures for freer trade worldwide. However, his optimism looks misplaced. Competitive liberalisation is an unproven theory, based on questionable empirical evidence. In practice, the approach seems unlikely to do much to expand US exports, while adding to the fast-growing patchwork of discriminatory deals that distort global trade.
FROM THE WTO TO THE UN: DEVELOPING WORLD STANDS AGAIN
POLITICS: U.N. Reform When?, Inter Press News Service Agency, by Haider Rizvi, September 26, 2003
When the World Trade Organisation met in Mexico earlier this month, a group of developing countries refused to be taken for granted by the rich industrialised nations that control the body, sending a message to the elite that they must change their way of doing business. ÊÊÊÊÊThe same message was heard this week in the United Nations General Assembly. http://www.ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=20348
BINDING TREATY ON TERRORISM GETS SIGNED
National leaders sign, ratify UN treaties on organized crime, terrorism and torture, UN, September 24, 2003
World leaders and government ministers are signing or undertaking legally binding treaty actions this week on agreements dealing with transnational organized crime, terrorism, the safety of United Nations personnel, tobacco control and torture as part of an event held on the fringes of the high-level debate in the United Nations General Assembly.
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.