Sierra Club of/du Canada


People, Trade & the Environment
Tools & Information for Activists

September 7, 2004


1. WTO (World Trade Organisation)

  • U.S. PROTECTIONISM MAY RISE AFTER DEFEATS AT WTO
  • WTO DEEPENS TALKS ON TRADE FECILITATION
  • KAZAKHSTAN GETS READY TO JOIN WTO
  • INDIA MAKES PATENT REFORM
  • CALL FOR APEC TRADE DEAL AS WTO STRUGGLES
  • WTO BACKGROUND BY PAUL HUNT
  • PHILIPPINES AND THAILAND SET TO SCRAP OVER AUTO TAX
  • WTO: THE DOPE TRICK


2. GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)

  • WTO RULING DELAYED IN TRANSGENIC ROW OVER GMOs
  • MONSANTO PUSHES FRANKENWHEAT
  • THAI PM OKAYS GM TRIAL


3. IMF (International Monetary Fund) & The World Bank

  • PROTEST, TEAR GAS MEET IMF VISIT IN ARGENTINA
  • PAKISTAN END RELATIONSHIP WITH ‘HIGHLY INTRUSIVE’ IMF
  • WORLD BANK GIVES NIGERA PRIVATISATION BODY THUMBS UP
  • WORLD BANK ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECTS IN BRAZIL


4. FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) & NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)

  • APEC DEBATES GREATER FREE TRADE AT SUMMIT
  • AUSSIE AMENDMENT PUTS FREE-TRADE DEAL AT RISK
  • CANADA SUES US ON NAFTA BEEF
  • LABOR GROUPS SAY EXPANDING NAFTA WILL WORSEN JOB LOSS


5. Environment

  • 4-WHEEL ENVIRONMENTAL THREATS
  • WHITE HOUSE FAST TRACKS OIL & GAS
  • LEATHERBACK TURTLE NESTS AT RISK


6. Other

  • SHELL ORDERED TO PAY COMPENSATION IN NIGERIA
  • US SPEEDS UP BILATERAL FREE TRADE TALKS


7. Glossary



Many thanks to those who missed PTE over our hiatus of the last couple of months! Thank you to Louise Molloy for her assistance with this issue. People, Trade and the Environment (PTE) is a publication of the Sierra Club of Canada. This digest is available on-line at www.sierraclub.ca/trade-environment/pte. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to the publication of this digest. For information or comments, to subscribe or unsubscribe, please contact: Sarah Dover, sdover@magma.ca


1. WTO (World Trade Organisation)

BACK


U.S. PROTECTIONISM MAY RISE AFTER DEFEATS AT WTO

AFP, September 6, 2004

A series of stinging defeats for the United States at the World Trade Organisation may encourage US protectionism in a country where the administration is reluctant to impose the rules of international law on its lawmakers, analysts say. The WTO last week authorised eight trading powers, including the European Union and Japan, to slap sanctions on Washington for failing to abolish a provision in its anti-dumping laws that has already been found to fall foul of global trade rules. The eight plaintiffs say punitive sanctions of more than $150 million (124.5 million euros) a year are in order over the offending legislation, which allows US industries to be paid anti-dumping duties levied on foreign competitors.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/841483.cms

WTO DEEPENS TALKS ON TRADE FECILITATION

Nation Online (Barbados), September 6, 2004

…On August 2, 2004, member states of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreed by explicit consensus to commence negotiations in this area and set out the guidelines under which such negotiations were to take place. This article reviews the WTO mandate on trade facilitation and outlines some of the possible implications for the Barbados private sector. Trade facilitation generally refers to those activities on which a company relies in order to trade and carry out its business. Within the context of trade negotiations, however, most of the work done in this area relates to trade in goods and the treatment of products at ports and customs in particular.

http://www.nationnews.com/

KAZAKHSTAN GETS READY TO JOIN WTO

“Date of Kazakhstan entry into WTO may be fixed in September”, Itar-Tass News Agency, August 26, 2004

The date of Kazakhstan’s entry into the World Trade Organisation may be determined in September, the WTO director general said on Thursday after a visit to Almaty at the personal invitation of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The WTO head, Supachai Panitchpakdi, said the WTO is currently considering a report on the economic development of Kazakhstan….Panitchpakdi hailed efforts and high activity of Kazakh specialists in bringing the regulatory enactments of the country and its economic reforms into line with WTO demands.

http://www.itar-tass.com/eng/level2.html?NewsID=1177892&PageNum=0

INDIA MAKES PATENT REFORM

“Cabinet meet on WTO, Patents Bill tomorrow”, Business Standard, August 24, 2004

…The Patents Bill drafted by the department of industrial policy and promotion contains modifications over the Amendment Bill presented by the previous government earlier this year. The main objective behind the legislation was to fulfill India’s WTO commitments for product patents by the beginning of the year, while giving maximum support to the domestic industry, senior government officials told Business Standard. The issues being revisited include the definition of inventions, objection to pre grant of patents and data protection. Section 3 of the Patents Act defines inventions that are not patentable….ÊThe details of the agreement, including agriculture, services and industrial tariffs will be negotiated as part of the Doha Round talks in the coming months. The new deadline for completion of the Round has been fixed at December 31, 2005, a year later than the original deadline.



CALL FOR APEC TRADE DEAL AS WTO STRUGGLES

The Australian, August 25, 2004

APEC business leaders have written to member nations asking them to consider a free trade agreement. The chairman of the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) Business Advisory Committee (ABAC), former Chilean central bank governor Hernan Somerville, said it was now impossible for APEC to meet the trade liberalisation goals set at Bogor in 1994. These called for developed nations to remove all trade barriers by 2010 and for developing nations to eliminate barriers by 2020.

http://finance.news.com.au/

WTO BACKGROUND BY PAUL HUNT

“WTO Democracy”, by Paul Hunt, Znet, August 25, 2004

…The WTO is in an unholy trinity with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. These beasts have become notorious pariahs strutting the global stage according to a script they call “The Washington Consensus.” They set poor states in tight financial traps, while giving generous lease to giant corporations to privatise everything from water and seeds to medical and social services.

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=13&ItemID=6097

PHILIPPINES AND THAILAND SET TO SCRAP OVER AUTO TAX

“Govt to protest new Thai auto tax in WTO”, Today, August 23 2004

The Philippines is set to lodge a complaint against Thailand before the World Trade Organization (WTO) for undermining the country’s automotive export program through the imposition of punitive excise tax on imported motor vehicles, it was learned Monday. Trade Secretary Cesar Purisima told reporters that the Philippines is prepared to lodge a complaint before the multilateral trading body against Thailand for the discriminatory trade barrier that could affect the export program of American car giant Ford Motor Co. Philippines Inc. He pointed out that the government action is on top of the protest that would be filed by US-based Ford Motor Co. in Thailand where it also has existing assembly operations.

http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/NewsStory.aspx?section=Business&oid=57986

WTO: THE DOPE TRICK

by Devinder Sharma, Dissident Voice, August 24, 2004

After a ‘truly historic’ agreement, it is now an embarrassing wake-up call for the developing countries. The big boys have done it again. This time, they have successfully managed to apply the dope trick on the developing countries Ð putting them in a hall of shame for letting the rich and industrialized countries not only walk away with all the trade-distorting farm subsidies but also allowing them to throw a still protective ring around agriculture.

http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Aug04/Sharma0824.htm


2. GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)

BACK


WTO RULING DELAYED IN TRANSGENIC ROW OVER GMOs

Reuters, August 26 2004

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has put off until March a decision on whether the European Union broke trade rules by not allowing imports of genetically modified foods (GMO), officials said on Thursday. But environmentalists said a verdict in the politically charged case, brought against the European Union by the United States, Argentina and Canada, could take even longer after trade judges agreed to hear scientific opinion. WTO judges had initially been expected to issue a ruling in September or October, but officials said that it had been put back until the end of March to give both sides more time to make their case and to let the judges question scientists.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L26329325.htm

MONSANTO PUSHES FRANKENWHEAT

“Monsanto Continues Controversial “Frankenwheat” Experiments in Canada”, Canadian Press, August 17, 2004

Field trials of genetically modified wheat are still being conducted in Canada by multinational biotech giant Monsanto despite a pledge earlier this year that the testing would be abandoned, critics said Tuesday. In a letter to Greenpeace Canada late last month, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed that 16 Monsanto trials of so-called Roundup Ready wheat are continuing “to allow researchers to complete their research.” Greenpeace, one of several environmental groups opposed to the trials, said Monsanto should have torn up the fields as it said it would. “The trials are a danger for both the environment and for the potential for release for farmers,” said Pat Venditti, genetic engineering campaigner for Greenpeace. “It could pose a serious threat to Canada’s ability to export wheat crops.”

http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/canada-wheat.cfm

THAI PM OKAYS GM TRIAL

AFP, August 23, 2004

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said he would allow an open-field trial of genetically modified food in what would be a key step towards commercial use of such crops in the kingdom. The relaxation of Thailand’s existing regulations on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) still requires cabinet approval, but Thaksin said broader experimentation with and use of the strains would be sanctioned under a new biosafety law to be tabled next year.

http://www.truthabouttrade.org/article.asp?id=2383


3. IMF (International Monetary Fund) & The World Bank

BACK


PROTEST, TEAR GAS MEET IMF VISIT IN ARGENTINA

“Argentine Police Fire Tear Gas to Quell IMF Protest (Update2)”, Bloomberg, August 31, 2004

Argentine police fired tear gas at about 2,000 demonstrators protesting a visit by International Monetary Fund Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato after several hundred stormed the central bank…. The protests, taking place as the government tries to negotiate new terms on about $100 billion of defaulted debt. underscore resentment in Argentina over the IMF’s role in the country’s economic policies. Argentine President Nestor Kirchner at a rally Aug. 26 in the northern province of Corrientes called on lenders such as the IMF to stop insisting on spending limits and other measures that risk slowing an economic recovery.

http://quote.bloomberg.com/

PAKISTAN END RELATIONSHIP WITH ‘HIGHLY INTRUSIVE’ IMF

“Pakistan ends 15-year ties with IMF”, The Daily Times (Pakistan), September 7, 2004

Pakistan on Monday celebrated the end of its 15-year relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), saying it was free from the “clutches of the highly intrusive” body.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=story_7-9-2004_pg7_9

WORLD BANK GIVES NIGERA PRIVATISATION BODY THUMBS UP

“Privatisation: World Bank Endorses BPE, Others”, This Day (Lagos), August 16, 2004

The World Bank has endorsed the Bureau of Public Enterprises’s (BPE) management of the privatisation programme and its implementation of the Privatisation Support Project (PSP) of the bank. Also giving the thumbs-up by the bank are the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Lagos State Water Corporation (LSWC), all beneficiaries of the bank’s grant in support of privatisation in the country.

http://allafrica.com/stories/200408160029.html

WORLD BANK ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECTS IN BRAZIL

“World Bank Approves US$505 Million For Environmental Sustainability In Brazil”, World Bank, August 24, 2004

The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved the First Programmatic Reform Loan for Environmental Sustainability, in the amount of US$505 million, to support Brazil’s goal of balancing economic growth with social development and the maintenance and improvement of environmental quality. In line with the Bank’s Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for Brazil, the loan seeks to contribute to a more sustainable Brazil, helping to reduce poverty and achieve a higher quality of life in rural and urban areas and building on the country’s comparative advantage in natural resources while helping conserve them.


4. FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) & NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)

BACK


APEC DEBATES GREATER FREE TRADE AT SUMMIT

Associated Press, by FEDERICO QUILODRAN, September 2, 2004

Finance chiefs of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group deliberated over calls Thursday to spread free trade across their 21-nation bloc as they opened a two-day summit here. President Ricardo Lagos, current rotating head of APEC, expressed support for a formal free trade agreement within the vast area comprising some 47 percent of all global commerce. Influential business lobbies among the APEC nations have backed a call for an region-wide free trade area by 2010. http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/business/national/9565363.htm

AUSSIE AMENDMENT PUTS FREE-TRADE DEAL AT RISK

THE WASHINGTON TIMES, September 3, 2004

A recently completed free-trade deal between the United States and Australia is at risk because the Australian Parliament forced a unilateral amendment to hold down the cost of prescription drugs. The deal, which was signed last month by President Bush, is expected to create 30,000 jobs in Australia and spur economic growth in this country by $4.3 billion a year. But Washington has not said whether it will accept the prescription-drug amendment forced on the government by the opposition Labor Party, which could cost American pharmaceutical companies millions of dollars. If ratified by both sides, the deal would go into effect Jan. 1.

http://washingtontimes.com/world/20040903-102334-4445r.htm

CANADA SUES US ON NAFTA BEEF

by ÊBarbara Duckworth, August 23, 2004

Angry Canadian beef producers have initiated a precedent setting trade challenge against the United States government under the North American Free Trade Agreement. A group of five feedlot operators is seeking $150 million in damages under Chapter 11 of NAFTA. The group called the Canadian Cattlemen for Free Trade is also demanding a reopening of the U.S. border to Canadian beef and cattle products. The border has been closed to live Canadian cattle and bone-in beef products since BSE was found in a Canadian cow in May 2003. International trade lawyer Todd Weiler said it marks the first time a class action claim has been launched under Chapter 11.

http://www.truthabouttrade.org/article.asp?id=2376

LABOR GROUPS SAY EXPANDING NAFTA WILL WORSEN JOB LOSS

Associated Press, August 16, 2004

Expanding the North American Free Trade Agreement into Central America will worsen the job loss for many Hispanic workers in the United States, three labor groups said Monday. The proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement will “pit U.S. Latinos against their brothers and sisters in Latin America in a race to the bottom,” said Jaime Martinez, president of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. Martinez, joined by representatives from the Texas Fair Trade Campaign and watchdog group Public Citizen, released a report that blamed a decade of NAFTA with the loss of 2.5 million U.S. jobs. Forty-seven percent of those compensated by a federal program for NAFTA job losses were Hispanic.

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/business/national/9416783.htm?1c


5. Environment

BACK


4-WHEEL ENVIRONMENTAL THREATS

“’Toyota-ization’ is Latest Global Threat as Desert Dust Storms Spread”, The Independent, August 20, 2004

There is an environmental problem that is just beginning to be recognized as being of global significance: “’Toyota-ization’”. The surfaces of deserts are being broken up by four-wheel drive vehicles such as the Toyota Land Cruiser, the Japanese version of the Land Rover and a great favorite with drivers in the Sahel, the dry states to the south of the Sahara, as well as many other challenging places.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0820-05.htm

WHITE HOUSE FAST TRACKS OIL & GAS

“White House Puts the West on Fast Track for Oil, Gas Drilling”, Los Angeles Times, August 25, 2004

Placing a heavy emphasis on energy production in the American West, the Bush administration has moved aggressively to open up broad areas of largely unspoiled federal land to oil and gas exploration. The administration has pressed for approval of new drilling permits across the Rocky Mountains and lifted protections on hundreds of thousands of acres with gas and oil reserves in Utah and Colorado….Soon after taking office in 2001, the Bush White House set up a little-known task force that acts as a complaint desk for industry, passing energy company concerns directly to federal land management employees in the field. Although the creation of White House task forces is commonplace, experts on the executive branch say it is unusual to have one primarily serving the interests of a single industry.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0825-04.htm

LEATHERBACK TURTLE NESTS AT RISK

“Malaysia turtle nesting sites at risk - scientists”, Reuters, August 24, 2004

Malaysia, once a major breeding ground, is in danger of losing its ocean-roaming leatherback turtles as humans eat their eggs, trap them in fishing nets and encroach on nesting sites, scientists said. Fewer than 10 nests remained in Malaysia’s northeast state of Terengganu where a few decades ago there had been 10,000, the scientists said after a two-day international conference on how to save the animals. “Many populations are in danger of extinction and could be gone in a few years if there is no urgent and effective action,” the scientists said in a statement….”Globally, the sea turtles are in serious trouble, particularly the leatherbacks and loggerheads,” said Theodore Groves, who teaches environmental economics at the University of California at San Diego.

http://www.planetark.com/


6. Other

BACK


SHELL ORDERED TO PAY COMPENSATION IN NIGERIA

“Senate Directs Shell to Pay Ijaws $1.5bn Compensation”, This Day (Lagos), August 25, 2004

Senate yesterday unanimously directed Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria Limited (SPDC) to commence the payment of the sum of $1.5 billion to the Ijaws Aborigines of Bayelsa State as compensation. The money was for the severe health hazards, economic hardship, injurious affection, avoidable deaths and sundry maladies which the people have suffered as a direct or indirect consequence of multiple spillages occurring in SPDC’s facilities across the eight local government areas of the state since the company commenced operations in 1956. The upper legislative house approved that $1 billion is payable forthwith while the $500 million be paid within five years period in five equal installments of $100 million per annum commencing not later than one year after the payment of the initial $1 billion aforementioned.

http://allafrica.com/stories/200408250207.html

US SPEEDS UP BILATERAL FREE TRADE TALKS

China View, September 7, 2004

The United States has accelerated establishment of bilateral free trade relationship with other countries, sealing free trade agreements with nine countries in the first eight months of this year. This is more than the total the country had signed before. Meanwhile, the United States is also currently negotiating free trade agreements with ten more countries. The US Trade Representative office hails that the United Statespursues comprehensive free trade agreements on a bilateral basis to expand opportunities for American workers, farmers and ranchers…The US job market did not grow as people expected although the economy had begun recovery since the second quarter of last year. The government reported last Friday the economy created 144,000 jobs in August and bumped up its earlier estimates for June and July, yielding a three-month average of 104,000 new jobs a month. But this was still much lower than the 216,000 jobs a month that President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers had been expecting. http://news.xinhuanet.com/


7. Glossary

BACK


“Chapter 11” …of the NAFTA on Dispute Settlement

CAFTA United States-Central American Free Trade Agreement

DDA Doha Development Agenda

DFAIT Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

EC European Community

ENGO Environmental non-governmental organization

EU European Union

FTA Free trade agreement

FTAA Free Trade Area of the Americas

GATS General Agreement on Trade in Services

GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

GMOs Genetically Modified Organisms

HIPC Heavily Indebted Poor Country

IFI International financial institution

ILO International Labor Organization

IMF International Monetary Fund

LDCs Lesser Developed Countries

MEA Multilateral Environmental Agreement

NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement

NGO Non-governmental organization

OECD Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

TRIPS Agreement Respecting Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights

UNDP UN Development Programme

USTR US Trade Representative

WB World Bank

WEF World Economic Forum

WHO World Health Organization

WSF World Social Forum

WTO World Trade Organization




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.



FOR INFORMATION OR COMMENTS, TO SUBSCRIBE OR UNSUBSCRIBE, PLEASE CONTACT: Sarah Dover, sdover@magma.ca