January 21, 2004
1. WTO (World Trade Organisation)
WTO prospects brighten, Business Standard, January 21, 2004
The prospects of resuming the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks, which broke down at the Cancun ministerial and made no progress even at the WTO general council meeting at Geneva, have seldom looked as encouraging as they do now. The ray of hope has come from the move initiated by the US, the worlds largest trader, backed by the European Union (EU), another formidable trader, and endorsed by some key developing countries, including India, Brazil and South Africa. The consent of the latter group is indeed significant. These, along with China and others, constitute the group of 20-odd countries that together account for a much bigger market than the rest of the world put together. Though, individually they did not have much clout at the WTO negotiations in the past, today they are collectively in a strong position.
USTR LETTER TO WTO MEMBERS
Robert Zoellick`s Letter To WTO Member Nations, re-published in The Wall Street Journal, January 11, 2004
Dear Minister: I am writing to share with you some common sense reflections on where we stand on the Doha Agenda and ideas on how we might advance it together .Here is my frank assessment: there is a general interest in advancing the Doha Development Agenda, and even a sense that our struggles at Cancun may have laid some useful foundations. Yet there is uncertainty about how to reengage productively so that we can make the necessary decisions .At the most fundamental level, I think we are most likely to succeed if we focus our work on the core market access topics: agriculture; goods; and services.
EU TRADE COMMISSIONER ON THE ROAD AHEAD
WTO: the Road Ahead, Speech by Pascal Lamy, EU Trade Commissioner, at the CII Conference, January 19, 2004
Ladies & Gentlemen, One of my new years resolutions is to set to one side the analysis of what happened in Cancun. One of the advantages of our meeting in Geneva on 15 December 2003 is that we are now officially out of the post-Cancun era, and perhaps we are now in the pre-Hong Kong era, the site of the next WTO Ministerial I hope later this year. So let me move straight into what next ? I am glad to report that the EU is not leaving the multilateral table: indeed, the exercise has been a fruitful one, resulting in a rather open discussion about where we need to show a bit more flexibility, where we need to reassess our priorities, and so on, in order to contribute to a successful re-launch of the DDA.
The Financial Express (India), by AMITI SEN, January 19, 2004
The European Union (EU) will soon table modest proposals for improving the decision-making process at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Speaking to FE, EU trade commissioner Pascal Lamy said that the proposals would include suggestions on organisation and handling of ministerials and powers of the director general of WTO in terms of initiating a text. We have to lucidly analyse our experience in Cancun in terms of how the things were structured, Mr Lamy said, adding it is obvious from the Cancun experience that things are in a mess, reaching decisions is a miracle and probabilities are on the wrong side. The EU trade commissioner said that although personally he had ambitious ideas on restructuring, WTO members were not ready for big negotiations on this. I believe that the organisation should be run more efficiently, but obviously there is not a lot of appetite around the table for reshuffling, he said.
STIGLITZ UNCONVINCED OF WTO FUTURE
Critic sees little progress at WTO, AFP, January 20, 2004
Joseph Stiglitz, the former World Bank economist turned critic of international economic institutions, forecast Monday little headway in World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks after the last round broke down last September in Cancun, Mexico. I see relatively little progress, at least for a while, Stiglitz, the 2001 Nobel laureate for economics, said at the World Social Forum in Bombay.
GLOBALIZATION FOR PEOPLE: A POST-CANCUN VIEW FROM THE SOUTH
by Benjamin William Mkapa, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, published on Development Gateway
In the aftermath of Cancun, as in many other instances, the view of the Economic North dominates the major international news media. The voice and assessment of the Economic South on where we stand and how to proceed also deserve to be heard. There is no doubt that the collapse of the world trade talks at Cancun in September is not good news for poor countries. In line with the Doha Development Agenda, our hopes were that the 5th Ministerial Meeting of the WTO would produce results that could open real doors for developing country economies to grow through fair trade, rather than remain stymied in over-dependence on aid. So, the collapse cannot be good news. But, there are times when a bad deal is worse than no deal. In my view, Cancun was such a case and time.
WTO RULES AGAINST CANADA
Vancouver Sun, by Gordon Hamilton, January 20, 2004
American lumber producers are claiming a victory after the World Trade Organization ruled Monday that Canadian timber prices are distorted and that the U.S. doesnt need to rely on them in setting duties on lumber. The ruling an appeal that marks the end of the road for Canada on one of six litigations over softwood lumber duties opens the door for the U.S. to use the American price of timber in setting duties, according to the U.S. lumber lobby. And it marks a clear reversal for Canada in its challenges to the WTO on the countervailing duty, one of two duties the U.S. applied to Canadian lumber in May 2002.
ILLEGAL STATE SUPPORT OF LUMBER TRADE: WTO
WTO Deals Set Back to Canada Over Lumber, Reuters, January 19, 2004
The World Trade Organizations (WTO) top court ruled on Monday that Canada was providing some state support to its softwood industry, delivering a second successive setback to Ottawa in a dispute over U.S. import duties. The WTOs Appellate Body, whose verdicts are final, also partially overturned a previous decision by WTO trade judges that the way Washington calculated its countervailing duties was unfair.
The majority of the appeal was in favor of the U.S., said one diplomatic source who declined to be identified. Richard Mills, a spokesman of the U.S. Trade Representatives office in Washington, said: We are extremely pleased with the outcome in this appeal. The United States used its trade remedy laws effectively in response to unfair Canadian lumber subsidies, and the WTO Appellate Body has found in our favor on the key issues.
US GROUPS HAIL WTO RULING
World Trade Organization Slaps U.S. Commerce Duties on Canadian Softwood Lumber Imports as Illegal, Echoing NAFTA Panel Remand, American Consumers for Affordable Homes Press Release, January 20, 2004
U.S. consumer groups today applauded a World Trade Organization (WTO) decision, leaked over the weekend, that condemned the antidumping duties imposed on $1.5 billion a year of Canadian softwood lumber trade. The ruling was based on a concept illegal under the WTO and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) rules that is called zeroing, which means that the Commerce Department compared prices for lumber on both sides of the border, eliminating those that showed no dumping, and counted only those that showed dumping, thus violating the WTO rule to which the U.S. had agreed for a fair comparison.
US WINS KEY ISSUES IN WTO SOFTWOOD LUMBER APPEAL
USTR Press Release, January 19, 2004
The United States used its trade remedy laws effectively in response to unfair Canadian lumber subsidies, and the WTO Appellate Body has found in our favor on the key issues. The WTO Appellate Body has upheld our determination that Canadas practices amount to an unfair subsidy, and they agreed in the key respects with the way in which we administered our trade laws in response, said USTR spokesman Richard Mills. The United States remains committed to finding a durable solution to this 20 year dispute, but in the meantime, we will continue to use our trade laws to ensure a level playing field.
GLOBAL BUSINESS MEETS UNDER VEIL OF SECRECY
Davos Meeting: Secret Agenda and Participants, Friends of the Earth International Press Release, January 20, 2004
One day before the start of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) here, Friends of the Earth International branded the gathering of senior executives and their invited guests as a means for big business to protect its interests at the expense of people and the environment .The secrecy of the WEFs annual meeting was confirmed on January 19th when Friends of the Earth International Vice Chair Tony Juniper requested a list of WEF participants and the detailed agenda they would address. The office of the WEFs senior managing director, Jose Maria Figueres, said that the detailed agenda and people attending was confidential.
WORLD SOCIAL FORUM UNDERWAY
Taking the energy of Mumbai back home: A small universe of activists teeming with hope, rabble.ca, by Daina Green, January 22, 2004
Day 4 . Greetings, all! The World Social Forum has been a huge success, although there is very little media coverage here or in the North American press. So heres my latest information bulletin: A large part of the Canadian/Quebec delegation met in the morning of day four, hosted by the Toronto Social Forum. More than 80 people showed up, and it was a very enthusiastic gathering. As we did introductions, people mentioned things that had impressed them at the WSF.
This story and more news on WSF:
ROUGH TRADE FROM THE US [STEEL TARIFFS]
Business Day (South Africa), by Michel Pireupireum, January 21, 2004
ALMOST forgotten over the hubbub of the Iraqi war are the trade tariffs of 30% that the US placed on imported steel in March 2002, in an attempt to protect the fading US steel industry .Far from being boosted, the US steel industrys share of worldwide steel production fell from 12,4% to 10,2%, while its share of the US market increased by a measly 1,4 (percentage points), from 79,6% to 81%. Thirty-one steel companies have gone under, and the number of workers employed by the industry has fallen 10%. US steel producers have, however, taken advantage of the tariffs to put up their prices. American industries that consume rather than produce steel have been grievously hurt, especially the car industry, where 20000 jobs have been lost. Overall, concludes the commission, the cost to the US of the import tariffs was a reduction in GDP of $30,4m.
So what if manufacturing jobs are vanishing to the Far East? says the magazine.
US FARM LOBBY MOVES TOWARD PROTECTIONISM
Farming in French, The Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2004
American farmers have long been a bulwark for free trade, so its an ominous sign that the American Farm Bureau Federation is suddenly dabbling in protectionism. The influential lobby is in danger of being hijacked by sugar, dairy and other interests that hardly speak for all of U.S. agriculture. At the Farm Bureaus annual meeting in Honolulu last week, the delegates voted (204-202) to add some dangerous caveats to their traditional free-trade stance. Future U.S. trade agreements, they said, must prevent economic damage to import-sensitive commodities and the circumvention of domestic trade policy and tariff schedules. In other words, opening export markets for U.S. beef and grain are fine, but as for opening U.S. markets to more imports forget it.
2. GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)
Press Release from the Council of Canadians, January 19, 2004
Tomorrow, a coalition of NGOs led by the Council of Canadians will present arguments to the Supreme Court of Canada in the Schmeiser vs Monsanto case, which has captivated the international community. In 2001, the Federal Court of Appeal found that Schmeiser had infringed on Monsantos patent rights to its Roundup Ready canola when he saved and planted seeds growing on his farm. The genetically engineered (GE) canola plant was later found on Schmeisers farm. The problem is that Mr. Schmeiser has been saving and replanting seeds for decades, says Steven Shrybman, counsel representing the coalition, The Court will have to confront the question of whether a patent can be infringed when the alleged infringer has not made use of or benefited from the properties of an invention, which is exactly what happened here.
MONSANTO CANT MAKE MONEY IN ARGENTIA - BLACK MARKET
Monsanto Exits Argentina Soy Biz Despite Soy Boom, Reuters, January 20, 2004
Soys star may be rising in Argentina but Monsanto Co., the U.S. pioneer in agricultural biotechnology, has stopped selling soybean seeds in the worlds No. 3 producer, because it cant make a buck. The company says a huge black market for the genetically modified seeds makes it impossible to recoup its investments. Until that changes, Monsanto Argentina said, it wont sell new-and-improved soy seeds or carry out research to develop new varieties tailored to local conditions.
SCIENTISTS SEND PRO-GMO LETTER TO BLAIR
Researchers Urge Science-based Approach for British Policy on GM Crops, AgBioWorld, January 20, 2004
More than 150 scientists across the world, including Nobel laureate of DNA structure fame James Watson, signed a letter delivered to British Prime Minister Tony Blair drawing attention to the positive impact that biotechnology is contributing to conventional agricultural practices in many parts of the world. The scientists urge in their letter that upcoming government decisions be based on science-based policies that foster the development of demonstrated safe technologies with significant environmental and economic benefits in the UK.
BATTLE OVER GMOs HEADS TO CDAS HIGH COURT
Reuters, January 20, 2004
A narrow legal case over whether a Canadian farmer infringed on biotech patents held by Monsanto Co. has mushroomed into a broader battle over genetically modified organisms that will be heard before the Supreme Court of Canada today. Monsanto has already won two lower-court judgments against Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser, successfully arguing he used its canola without a license. The grain has been genetically modified to be resistant to its herbicide Roundup.
EU PROGRESS ON LABELLING
EU Commission Seeks to Increase Biotech Food Safety, Reuters, January 19, 2004
The European Commission sought to calm consumer concerns over genetically modified organisms last week by giving each GMO variety a unique code so it can be traced throughout the food chain. Under the legislation adopted by the EU executive Commission, each GMO variety used in food and animal feed would be assigned a specific code consisting of letters and digits. This will allow products containing these GMOs to be accurately traced and labeled when they come to the marketplace, the Commission said in a statement.
3. FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) & NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
Court upholds NAFTA tribunal in ruling over Ottawas PCB move $8-million judgment, Financial Post, by Ian Jack, January 15, 2004
The Federal Court has thrown out a government appeal of a multi-million-dollar judgment under NAFTAs controversial Chapter 11. The court said a NAFTA tribunal acted properly and within its jurisdiction when it found that Sheila Copps should not have cut off the business of a U.S. waste disposal company when she was environment minister in the mid-1990s. S.D. Myers Inc., of Tallmudge, Ohio, was awarded $8-million by the tribunal, an amount that has grown by $1-million during the appeal due to interest assessed on the award.
NAFTA PUTS CORPORATE RIGHTS AHEAD OF HEALTH, ENVIRONMENT
Citizen groups denounce court ruling: places corporate rights above health and the environment, Press Release from the Council of Canadians and Sierra Club of Canada, January 16, 2004
Citizen and environmental groups denounced yesterdays Federal Court ruling that Canada owes a US corporation millions of dollars under Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The court affirmed an earlier trade tribunal decision that Canada could not prohibit the export of hazardous waste contaminated with PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) into the United States without violating the US corporations so-called investor-rights. The Council of Canadians and Sierra Club of Canada are demanding that the Canadian government appeal this ruling.
BRAZIL WANTS FAST START TO TRADE TALKS
Seeks separate deals with Canada and the United States, Financial Post, by Ian Jack, January 21, 2004
Brazil is ready to start negotiating a trade deal with Canada to open markets for services and provide more access for manufactured and agricultural products, its ambassador said yesterday. Valdemar Leao said Brazil and its Mercosur partners approached the Canadian government last October, and again in December, to propose such negotiations and was ready to start this month. The deal would encompass more than just Brazil, South Americas biggest economy. Because Brazil is part of the Mercosur regional trading bloc with Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, any talks would encompass those countries too, Mr. Leao said in an interview.
MERCOSUR AND THE FTAA: FROM FAILURE TO SUBMISSION
By Claudio Katz, professor at the University of Buenos Aires, Progreso Semanal, January 2004
To move ahead with the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and expedite the collection of foreign debt are the economic priorities of the Bush administration for Latin America. Both objectives are aimed at consolidating the United States trade and financial domination. Right now, the morass in which the occupation forces find themselves in Iraq compels the United States to strengthen its control of its back yard. But in the long run, Washingtons intention is to directly manage the strategic resources of the region, especially Mexicos, Venezuelas and Ecuadors crude oil, the forests of Amazonia and the water reserves of the Triple Frontier.
3,000 MARCH AGAINST US IN BUENOS AIRES
Colombia Indymedia, Movimiento Piquetero Barrios de Pie, January 16, 2004
On January 16, some 3,000 people marched from the Plaza Italia in Buenos Aires to the U.S. Embassy to protest U.S. intervention in Latin America. The march was organized by the Movement of Neighborhoods Standing Up (Barrios de Pie), along with the We Will Win (Venceremos) Group, around three key issues: support for the Venezuelan government and the movement led by Bolivian indigenous leader Evo Morales Ayma, and for Bolivias right to access to the sea; rejection of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and of any payment of the debt with the hunger of the people; and the continuing struggle for the sovereignty and independence of Argentina. At the head of the march, a group of women carried the flags of Latin American nations including Venezuela, Brasil, Cuba and Bolivia.
SPECIAL SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS - CDN MATERIALS
Special Summit of the Americas: Providing a Fresh Impetus to Hemispheric Cooperation, DFAIT Web Site
This is the fourth meeting of the leaders of the hemispheres 34 democracies to discuss the economic, social and political challenges facing the region. The current summit is focusing on three main themes: economic growth with equity for reducing poverty, social development and democratic governance. This weeks edition of Stories of the Week features Canadian companies that do business in countries in the hemisphere
4. Environment and Other
Trade agreements and alternatives to globalization discussed at North American churches consultation, Church World Service, by Ann Walle, January 20, 2004
Representatives from more than 100 North American church and grassroots organizations met here Jan. 11-14 January for a consultation entitled Just trade agreements? Churches in North America discuss globalization. The consultation was convened by the Education and Advocacy Program of Church World Service and by the Canadian Council of Churches as a joint ecumenical process for clarification and critique of policies as they exist and for the offering of alternatives. Canadas economic dependence on the US has gone from 30 to 60%, said John Dillon from KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives. So, he noted, his country makes an effort not to upset the U.S., but to harmonize with its policies on immigration and refugees and militarization.
WILL CAFTA BE DEAD ON ARRIVAL IN CONGRESS?
Inside Washington Today, by Jim Wiesemeyer, January 19, 2004
Gaining congressional approval of the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) that the United States negotiated with El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua will be at least as difficult as gaining approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1992 and of the trade promotion authority bill in 2002, according to Bruce Josten, vice president of government affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
EUROPE AGREES ON PROPOSALS TO SAVE SPECIES
AgBioWorld, January 22, 2004
European states agreed on Wednesday on proposals aimed at saving hundreds of species from extinction covering fish farming, shipping and protecting the high seas but environmentalists said they were not enough. Environment ministry officials from Europe, Russia and several central Asian countries met in Madrid to fix a common proposal to take to an annual U.N. conference on biodiversity in Malaysia next month. Aiming to halt a global decline in biodiversity by 2010, they agreed to develop protected natural areas, including parts of the high seas, which fall outside national jurisdictions.
OECD REVISES ITS PRINCIPLES ON CORPORATE GOVERNANCE
EurActiv, January 13, 2004
The OECD has put its draft revised principles on corporate governance to public consultation. The aim of the revision is to step up investor protection and boost the ability to counter management and shareholder manipulation .
Recent corporate scandals and the recognition of the importance of corporate governance in boosting investor confidence and national economic performance has prompted ministers of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to revisit the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance. The non-binding set of twelve principles was first adopted in May 1999. Since their publication they have become a reference point for corporate governance initiatives around the world.
SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR MORE ACTION TO HALT ILLI8CIT GUN TRADE
Accra Mail, January 21, 2004
The United Nations Security Council has urged the worlds countries to do more to halt the flow of the illicit small arms and light weapons, warning that they could end up in the hands of terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida.
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.