February 10, 2004
1. WTO (World Trade Organisation)
Zoellick Makes Push for Strong Progress in 2004 on Doha Negotations, Pro Farmer, by
U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick will travel to a number of capitals and key cities around the world to discuss how to make strong progress in 2004 in the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO). At the beginning of January, Zoellick wrote to 146 of his WTO Ministerial colleagues, sharing his common sense assessment of the state of the negotiations and how all WTO Members might work together to advance the DDA. He suggested focusing on the key market access areas of agriculture, industrial goods and services, with work to develop frameworks by midyear and a WTO Ministerial that could be held by the end of the year.
ZOELLICK UNLIKELY TO BOOST WTO TALKS - ANALYSTS
Reuters, by Doug Palmer, February 10, 2004
The White Houses refusal to push for meaningful agricultural reform ahead of this years presidential election is undermining a bid by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick to revive world trade talks, U.S. trade analysts said on Tuesday. Zoellick left for a nine-country tour of trade capitals on Sunday, hours after concluding a free trade deal with Australia. But rather than giving a boost to the trip, trade analysts said the pact shows White House reluctance to upset farmers ahead of Novembers election by opening protected U.S. markets to more competition.
U.S. AND AUSTRALIA COMPLETE FREE TRADE AGREEMENT
USTR Press Release, FEBRUARY 8, 2004
The United States and Australia today concluded an historic and comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) designed to eliminate and reduce tariffs and other trade barriers and promote economic growth and prosperity. More than 99 percent of U.S. manufactured goods exports to Australia will become duty-free immediately upon entry into force of the Agreement. Manufactured goods account for 93 percent of U.S. exports to Australia .Negotiations began in March 2003, and President George W. Bush and Prime Minister John Howard had made it a priority for both countries to complete the agreement, most recently at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Thailand, in October 2003.
AGREEMENT WITH AUSTRALIA TRADES AWAY U.S. AGRICULTURE
Western Organization of Resource Councils Press Release, FEBRUARY 9, 2004
The recently concluded trade negotiation between the United States and Australia threatens the livelihoods of family farmers and ranchers, WORC (Western Organization of Resource Councils) said today. The agreement reached yesterday immediately ends or phases out tariffs for many agricultural products including beef, lamb, sheep, wool, wheat, and dairy products. According to a WORC spokesperson, Gilles Stockton, a rancher from Grass Range, Montana, the trade agreement has three serious flaws. First, this agreement will put many family livestock producers out of business, Stockton said. Second, it gives even more economic power to multi-national corporations. Finally, the process is blatantly undemocratic.
U.S.-AUSTRALIA TRADE DEAL A LESSON FOR SOUTH AFRICA
Business Day (Johannesburg), February 10, 2004
THE free trade agreement concluded between the US and Australia at the weekend has prompted renewed calls for a strong stance on agriculture issues in SAs free trade negotiations with the US .Australia, as is the case with SA, had hoped to secure substantially improved market access for agricultural products, but the outcome of the deal angered and disappointed farmers in Australia. The US refused to meet Australian hopes for substantially greater exports of agricultural commodities such as sugar, beef, wine and dairy products.
US/AUSSIE TRADE DEAL: WHATS IN, WHATS OUT
U.S., Australia Agree on Free-Trade Pact, Washington Post, by Paul Blustein
The United States and Australia announced yesterday that they concluded a free-trade agreement, one of the biggest in a series of two-way deals the Bush administration is pursuing with a number of countries aimed at tearing down barriers to international commerce. But the accord, while scrapping tariffs on nearly all manufactured goods traded between the two countries, would maintain heavy U.S. protection against imports of Australian sugar, beef and dairy products. That is a sign of the enormous clout American agricultural producers wield over U.S. trade policy, especially in an election year, and it underlines the difficulties of securing broader trade agreements with developing countries whose farmers want to sell more of their goods abroad.
NEW ZEALAND CALLS NEW DEAL ILLEGAL
New US FTA illegal - NZ, The Sunday Mail, by Shane Wright, February 10, 2004
NEW Zealand has accused Australia and the United States of signing a free trade deal that breaches world trade laws. NZs Finance Minister Michael Cullen said the deal did not pass World Trade Organisation (WTO) requirements for a free trade deal because it excluded sugar and retained quotas and tariffs in agriculture. It follows similar concerns expressed by the left-wing think-tank, the Australia Institute, which also believes the deal falls short of that required under international law. Under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), a free trade deal must eliminate all tariffs and other restrictions on substantially all trade between the two countries. The Australia-US deal, like around 200 bilateral trade deals, must be lodged with the World Trade Organisation.
UNION PREFERS WTO TO BILATERAL
US-Aust free trade agreement reflects imbalance, New Zealand Council of Trade Unions Press Release, February 10, 2004
The lousy deal for Australia is a reminder that our real interests lie with resumed multi-lateral negotiations, Council of Trade Unions president Ross Wilson said today. He was commenting on the US Australia free trade agreement announced today. WTO rules and processes need a lot of improvement but they still hold the prospect for a much fairer outcome than one-sided bilaterals, Ross Wilson said. New Zealand should pursue multi-lateral negotiations for the same reason that workers pursue collective bargaining, he said .Despite the huge sacrifices the Australian Government has made, the much vaunted FTA with the US reflects the gross inequality of bargaining power.
REGIONAL TRADE LINKS STRENGTHEN IN ASIA, LATIN AMERICA
Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest, February 4, 2004
In the absence of substantive negotiations at the WTO (set to resume later this month), regional and bilateral meetings continue to move ahead. This past week, Asian and Latin American countries met in the Philippines to increase cooperation, Singapore and Korea showed intent to sign a free trade agreement by the end of the year and Brazil called for a trilateral trade pact with India and South Africa.
JAPANESE ENVOY TO STEER WORLD TRADE TALKS: DIPLOMAT
February 10, 2004, AFP
Japans ambassador to the World Trade Organisation, Shotaro Oshima, will steer efforts to relaunch deadlocked global trade negotiations when he is appointed to head the WTOs top executive body later this week, diplomats said. Oshimas nomination as chairman of the WTO General Council over the next year was accepted by the 146 member states during an informal meeting here, they said.
WTO & AGRICULTURE
The Associated Press, February 10, 2004
The Canadian government does not violate international law in its wheat trade with the United States, the World Trade Organization has ruled. Still, U.S. officials said the decision was a partial victory for American farmers. Canadian Wheat Board officials announced Tuesday that a WTO panel has dismissed the heart of a U.S. complaint against the board. The Winnipeg, Manitoba-based wheat board buys wheat and barley produced in Canadas western prairie provinces, at a price fixed by the Canadian government. American farmers argued that Canadian producers are being indirectly and unfairly subsidized. The WTO panel determined, however, that farmers rather than the Canadian government control the wheat board, the boards officials said. This is a victory for western Canadian farmers and we are very proud, Larry Hill, a farmer and chairman of the Canadian Wheat Boards trade committee, said in a conference call.
CANADIAN STATEMENT ON WHEAT RULING
WTO PANEL REPORT SUPPORTS CANADAS POSITION ON KEY CANADIAN WHEAT BOARD ISSUE, DFAIT Press Release, February 10, 2004
The government said that it is especially pleased with the WTOs key decision on the CWB [Canadian Wheat Board] and that it would study other points raised in the report.
This report confirms that the CWBs practices are fully consistent with our international trade obligations, said International Trade Minister Jim Peterson. Industry representatives who contributed to the governments case and helped to secure this positive WTO ruling are to be commended.
U.S. FOOD COMPANIES DUMPING; GOVT POLICIES HURTING WORLD FARMERS - REPORT
Widespread Ag Dumping From U.S. Food Companies Continues, New Analysis Finds U.S. Farm Policies Continue to Hurt Farmers in U.S. and Around the World, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Press Release, FEBRUARY 10, 2004
U.S. based multinational food companies are continuing a decade-long trend of agricultural dumping of five major export commodities onto world markets, according to a new analysis released today by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). Agricultural dumping is the exporting of commodities at prices below their cost of production. Dumping is one of the most damaging of all current distortions in world trade practices, said Kristin Dawkins, Vice President for Global Programs at IATP. Developing country agriculture, vital for food security, rural livelihoods, poverty reduction and trade, is crippled by the competition from major commodities sold at well below cost of production prices in world markets. U.S. family farmers are also being driven out of business by this system of low prices. Wheat was exported at an average price of 43 percent below cost of production; Soybeans were exported at an average price of 25 percent below cost of production; Corn was exported at an average price of 13 percent below cost of production; Cotton was exported at an average price of 61 percent below cost of production; Rice was exported at an average price of 35 percent below cost of production.
WTO SIDES WITH CANADA IN WHEAT EXPORT DISPUTE WITH U.S.
by Michelle Macafee, Canadian Press, February 10, 2004
Canada claimed a major victory Tuesday in an ongoing trade dispute with the United States after the World Trade Organization ruled Canada does not illegally subsidize wheat exports. Officials with the Canadian Wheat Board said the ruling upholds its very purpose as a farmer-controlled marketing agency for all Western Canadian barley and wheat. Board president Adrian Measner said the board had always been confident because the U.S. government had no evidence on which to base its complaint. Their bluff was called, Measner said during a conference call.
2. GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)
37th PARLIAMENT, 3rd SESSION, February 4, 2004
Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.): Given the statement by the President of the Canadian Wheat Board, according to whom Monsantos Roundup Ready wheat will have a devastating economic impact on grain producers in western Canada can the Minister of International Trade indicate what he intends to do to prevent any potential loss of access to European markets? Hon. Jim Peterson (Minister of International Trade, Lib.): This matter is before Health Canada and our approvals are based on science. Last week in Europe I stressed that EU treatment of Canadian products must be based on science, not on politics. Since then, Commissioner Lamy has returned to me and said that the commission has approved GM sweet maize BT.
BELGIUM SAYS NO TO GM OILSEED RAPE
Belgian authorities accused of making political decision on GM rape, EurActiv, February 3, 2004
The Belgian government has rejected Bayer CropSciences application to grow their GM oilseed rape on environmental grounds. The producer now accuses the ministers of succumbing to political pressure .The Belgian government on 2 February rejected the application of Bayer CropScience to grow genetically modified oilseed rape. Belgian experts came to the conclusion that growing GM oilseed rape would have negative effects on the environment, in particular on biodiversity. This is in line with a recently published study of fields trials in the UK.
3. IMF (International Monetary Fund) & The World Bank
World Wildlife Fund Press Release, FEBRUARY 9, 2004
Decisions by Citigroup and the World Bank to underwrite the construction of an oil pipeline across some of the most ecologically sensitive wetlands and mountains in the Caucasus raise serious questions about the professed commitments of both institutions to protecting the environment, World Wildlife Fund said today. Carrying Caspian crude oil from Baku in Azerbaijan to the Turkish city of Ceyhan near the Mediterranean coast, the 1,000-mile long pipeline will cut across the Caucasus, traversing an important protected area near Georgias oldest national park and other critical habitat areas for endangered species such as the Caucasian leopard, the Dalmatian pelican and the imperial eagle.
ARGENTINA STANDS UP TO IMF
It Pays to Get Tough With the IMF, Center for Economic and Policy Research Press Release, by Mark Weisbrot, February 9, 2004
For the second time in less than six months, the government of Argentina stood up to the International Monetary Fund and the IMF backed down. Last week the Fund approved the latest installment of its lending to Argentina, after having failed in its efforts to get a better deal for Argentinas private creditors. This is unprecedented. The IMF is the most powerful lending institution in the world, and is used to having its way especially with a country that is not so big (38 million people) but is one of the Funds largest debtors in the world. And its not like Argentina can get easy credit elsewhere. The government is currently in default on $88 billion of debt, the biggest sovereign debt default in history.
SOUTH AFRICA: CONCERN OVER BANKS POSITION ON FUNDING MINING PROJECTS
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, February 10, 2004
South Africas Minister of Minerals and Energy, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, on Monday raised concerns that the World Bank was considering a limit on financing coal and oil projects in developing countries. Mlambo-Nguckas concerns were prompted by the recommendations in an Extractive Industries Review (EIR), launched by the World Bank two years ago to evaluate the impact of its involvement in the oil, mining and gas sectors.
The EIR has recommended that the Bank cease funding coal projects, and phase out its support for oil production by 2008.
INVESTMENT NEEDS ENFORCEMENT OF LAWS AND VOLUNTARY STANDARDS: WORLD BANK
Corporations primarily seek well-enforced CSR laws when considering new investments, EurActiv, February 9, 2004
Besides rigorously enforced local laws, the adherence to CSR standards (ISO 1400, ILO conventions, etc) has emerged as an important requirement in the investment decisions of multinational corporations .A survey, entitled Race to the Top: Attracting and Enabling Global Sustainable Business, has found that sixty-one per cent of respondents (executives of multinational enterprises) were seeking strong laws on CSR when seeking partners, which are rigorously enforced to create a level playing field for business and discourage corruption. The survey, commissioned by the World Bank Group, has examined the role of CSR when large corporations consider new trade and investment ventures.
4. FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) & NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
Dow Jones Newswires, Feb. 6, 2004
Talks on the Free Trade Area of the Americas have largely stalled over South American demands for an end to domestic U.S. farm subsidies, according to negotiators. The prospect that the talks could fail - or
result in a preliminary agreement so vague as to be meaningless -
cheered an estimated 1,000 anti-globalization protesters who marched
and briefly confronted police outside the hemispheric meeting of vice
FREE TRADE TALKS FAIL IN MEXICO
UPI, February 7, 2004
The latest round of negotiations toward creating a western hemispheric trade bloc has ended in failure, news sources reported Saturday. After four days of talks on the controversial sticking point of farm subsidies, the 34 representatives hailing from every nation in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba did not come any closer to reaching a solution to the problem that pits the United States against most of Latin America.
The proposal to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas would establish a hemispheric free trade zone stretching from Alaska to the tip of South America, excluding Cuba.
Led by Brazil, the Latin American trade bloc Mercosur which also includes Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay - claims U.S. farm subsidies prevent its own farmers from competing domestically.
LAWSUIT FILED ATTACKING MIAMI ORDINANCE USED DURING FTAA PROTESTS
Miami Activist Defense Press Release, FEBRUARY 4, 2004
A civil lawsuit was filed today in federal court to challenge a controversial ordinance passed by Miami City Commission days prior to protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) meetings in November 2003. The ordinance was used to chill First Amendment activities during mass demonstrations against the FTAA. The lawsuit also attacks two other Miami ordinances regulating demonstrations on public streets and sidewalks as unconstitutional restrictions on First Amendment rights. Attorneys working with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) Mass Defense Committee and Miami Activist Defense (MAD) filed the lawsuit on behalf of Plaintiff Lake Worth Global Justice Group. Members of the plaintiff group were subject to unlawful searches, detentions and arrests during the FTAA protests. The defendants include the City of Miami, City Manager Joe Arriola, and Miami Police Chief John Timoney.
SUMMIT WAS SUCCESS: MIAMI POLICE CONCLUDE
Save our Civil Liberties, February 5, 2004
Security efforts during the FTAA protests were a success, a Miami police review says, but civil libertarians call the report a whitewash of responsibility. The Miami Police Department admitted minor mistakes were made during Novembers free-trade meeting but called the event an overall success in an internal review released Wednesday. The department coordinated security efforts of 39 agencies during the Free Trade Area of the Americas ministerial meeting. The report, a summary of a two-month study, lauded the overall response to protests but noted that two problems involving other agencies should be avoided in the future.
NGOs ALLOWED LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN NAFTA CASE
In an unprecedented decision, the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes allows limited public participation in the Methanex vs. the United States case, CIEL, February 10, 2004
On January 30, 2004, the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) adopted procedures (http://www.worldbank.org/icsid/methanex.htm) for non-disputing party participation set out in part B of the Statement of the NAFTA Free Trade Commission on such participation regarding the Methanex vs. the United States case . Although international arbitration tribunals had never before permitted citizens to participate in their secretive processes, and Methanex opposed the request, a few months later the tribunal decided that they had the authority to allow us to make written submissions, although they deferred a definitive decision for later in the case.
NO ON PROPOSAL FOR EMERGENCY DEBATE ON SOFTWOOD
37th PARLIAMENT, 3rd SESSION, February 9, 2004
The Speaker: The Chair has an application for an emergency debate from the hon. member for SackvilleMusquodoboit ValleyEastern Shore. Mr. Peter Stoffer (SackvilleMusquodoboit ValleyEastern Shore, NDP): This crisis has been going on for a long time now and an awful lot of workers in small communities from coast to coast in this country are facing a very bleak future. We have not yet had a good and thorough debate on this issue in the House. We on the opposition side, and I am sure many on the Liberal side as well, would like to know, what is the current governments position? The Speaker: The Chair has listened carefully to the comments of the hon. member for SackvilleMusquodoboit ValleyEastern Shore. I note that this issue is one that has continued for some many months and is not new. I am concerned about allowing an emergency debate when there is no new development that might have prompted an additional concern or emergency at this particular time.
GOODALE TO MEET REGULARLY WITH U.S. TREASURY
Finance Canada Press Release, February 6, 2004
Finance Minister Ralph Goodale announced today that he and the U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow have agreed to institute annual bilateral meetings between their two departments at the ministerial level .Todays meeting was the first between Minister Goodale and Secretary Snow. They discussed the economic outlooks of both nations, border security, BSE, wheat marketing, agricultural subsidies, softwood lumber and the fight against terrorist financing. The bilateral meeting came in advance of the February 6-7 meeting of the Group of Seven (G-7) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Florida. Among the expected agenda items during the G-7 meeting are financial and economic reforms in Afghanistan and Iraq, international development, global economic prospects, emerging market nations and terrorist financing.
Speech from the Throne, February 4, 2004
ENVIRONMENT MINISTER ON THE THRONE SPEECH
Hon. David Anderson, P.C., M.P., Minister of the Environment, Speech to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainable Communities National Conference and Trade Show 2004 - Sustainable Communities: You Decide!, February 6, 2004
Our government did more than state a general intention to work with municipalities; we made it clear what we will do: The GST rebate Ð a $700 million a year injection for municipalities to spend as they see fit improved transit, affordable housing, clean water and better roads. Negotiations on sharing a portion of gas tax revenues with municipalities, or something similar Ð with a clear place for the provinces in that process . Equally, for an audience as committed to creating sustainable communities as this one, our determination to do our part on the environment came through loud and clear in the Speech from the Throne: $3.5 billion for the remediation of federal contaminated sites. $500 million to clean up the Sydney Tar Ponds and similar sites. Bringing new environmental indicators into government planning. Working with the United States for new and more stringent air and water quality guidelines Ð which is vitally important for communities downwind and downstream in both countries Ð and working with the provinces and territories to implement these guidelines. Confirming our determination to meet Canadas Kyoto Protocol commitment. Supporting the development of innovative environmental technologies as a cornerstone of the 21st century economy.
THRONE SPEECH RECYCLES OLD COMMITMENT
37th PARLIAMENT, 3rd SESSION, February 6, 2004
Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in the Speech from the Throne we learned that: building on recommendations of the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, the Government will start incorporating key indicators on clean water, clean air, and emissions reduction into its decision making. It should be noted that going back to the 1997 Liberal campaign red book, we find: We will ask the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy to expand its work with stakeholder sand provincial governments to develop eco-efficiency indicators. Subsequently, in the year 2000 Statistics Canada produced excellent indicators in a report entitled EConnections 2000. Consequently, the government should be made aware of the fact that it is already in a position to use the key environmental indicators already developed by Statistics Canada for its policy development and decision making.
Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest, February 4, 2004, Americans on Globalization, Trade, and Farm Subsidies, PIPA, 22 January 2004.
A new study released on 22 January by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) shows a number of Americans dissatisfied with the trade policy of the Bush administration. Only 21 percent of those polled said they would be more likely to vote for President Bush because of the way he has dealt with trade issues, while 37 percent indicated they would be less likely to do so. Its a clear net negative for the President, Steven Kull, Director of the Center on Policy Attitudes, said of the results.
CHRETIEN NAMED ADVISOR TO OIL COMPANY
Former Canadian PM named PetroKazakhstan adviser, Reuters, February 5, 2004
PetroKazakhstan Inc. named former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien as special international relations adviser this week, a part-time post aimed at helping the oil company deal with top government officials. PetroKazakhstan, a Canadian-based company that produces and refines oil in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, said Chretien, 70, will not act as a liaison between the firm and Canadas government, however. He will be interfacing with our government relations people and working with international governments whom we obviously work with, PetroKazakhstan spokesman Jeffrey Auld said.
M.P. MOVES TO STOP CORPORATE TAX BREAKS FOR LAW BREAKING
37th PARLIAMENT, 3rd SESSION, February 5, 2004
Mr. Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, NDP) moved for leave to introduce Bill C-472, an act to amend the Income Tax Act (deductibility of fines) .Mr. Speaker, I am happy to introduce for first reading today this bill which calls for an amendment to the Income Tax Act to put an end to what I believe is an outrageous situation where fines, penalties and levies can be written off income tax by businesses as legitimate business expenses.
U.S. COMPANIES SUE BANANA WORKERS POISONED BY PESTICIDES
NicaNet, February 2, 2004
Shell Oil, Dow Chemical and Dole Food Company have been found liable in Nicaraguan court of exposing banana workers to the banned pesticide Nemagon (DBCP) and ordered to pay about a million US dollars to each of nearly 500 former banana workers who are suffering cancers, sterility, and other debilitating illnesses caused by their exposure to the chemical which has long been banned in the United States. After none of the three transnational companies paid what the court ordered or even offered to settle the claims through mediation, two larger groups of victims brought suit in US courts. Before Christmas, under the anti-mafia RICO statutes, Dole filed a countersuit in US court, joined by Shell and Dow in January, seeking US$17 billion from the banana workers and their medical examiners.
AFRICAS DEBT - WHO OWES WHOM?
American Friends Service Committee (Philadelphia) Press Release, February 5, 2004
Africa is center stage in the struggle for human and economic rights. It is home to the worlds gravest health crises- including the HIV/AIDS pandemic and chronic famine. Even though Africa has only 5 percent of the developing worlds income, it carries about two thirds of the debt - over $300 billion. Because of this, the average African country spends three times more of its scarce resources on repaying debt than it does on providing basic services. In addressing Africas struggle for relief from its onerous external debt, advocates of global justice have raised a critical question: Who owes whom?
BIG BRAND RETAILERS TURNING UP HEAT FOR CULNERABLE WORKERS SAYS OXFAM
Oxfam International Press Release, FEBRUARY 9, 2004
Big brand companies and retailers in the fashion and food industries are driving down employment conditions for millions of women workers around the world, according to a new study by international agency Oxfam. Oxfam says that huge retailing empires are undermining the very labor standards they claim to uphold by pursuing a common global strategy that demands ever-quicker and cheaper delivery of the freshest and latest products. The companies are using their power at the top of global supply chains to squeeze their suppliers to deliver. This pressure is dumped immediately onto women workers in the form of ever-longer hours at faster work rates, often in poor conditions, and no job security. The report says that millions of women are being denied their fair share of the benefits of globalisation as a result.
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.