GENTECH archive


BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 2, Number 45 November 23, 1998




23-24 November 1998: Informal Meeting of the General Council.
For information, contact Keith Rockwell, WTO, tel: (41) 22 739 5007.

23, 25 November 1998: Trade Policy Review of Uruguay.
For information, contact Lucie Giraud, WTO, tel: (41) 22 739 5075.

25 November 1998: Dispute Settlement Body.
For information, contact Nuch Nazeer, WTO, tel: (41) 22 739 5393.

25 November 1998: Special Committee on Trade and Development & Sub-
Committee on Least-Developed Countries.
For information, contact Lucie Giraud, as above.

25-26 November 1998: Working Group on Trade and Investment.
For information, contact Luis Ople, WTO, tel: (41) 22 739 5374.

26 November 1998: Committee on Regional Trade Agreements.
For information, contact Hans-Peter Werner, WTO, tel: (41) 22 739 5286.


1998, 9h00-11h00, Geneva Executive Centre, 13 chemin des Anemones, 1219
Chatelaine, Geneva.
Hans BRUUN Danish Ambassador to the UN and Chair of the WTO Subcommittee
on Least Developed Countries, and Annet BLANK from the Development
Division of the WTO will speak at this 'Cafe & Croissants' organised by
For information, contact Miguel Jimenez-Pont, ICTSD, tel: (41) 22 917
8478, fax: (41) 22 917 8093, email:

Brussels, Belgium.
NGOs with interest in trade and developing country issues are invited to
this briefing, convened by the Quaker Council for European Affairs.
For information, contact Simon Leonard, Quaker Council for European
Affairs, Square Ambiorix 50, 1000 Brussels, Belgium; tel: (32) 2 230 4935;
fax: (32) 2 230 6370; email:

WORKSHOP ON AGROBIODIVERSITY, 2-4 December 1998, Rome, Italy.
For information, contact the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological
Diversity, tel: (1) 514 288 2220, fax: (1) 514 288 6588, email:

1998, 9h00-11h00, Geneva Executive Centre, as above.
Ian Wilkinson from the Permanent Delegation of the European Communities to
the WTO will speak at this 'Cafe & Croissants' organised by ICTSD.
For information, contact Miguel Jimenez-Pont, ICTSD, as above.

18h00, Geneva Executive Centre, as above.
Richard EGLIN, Director, Trade and Finance Division, WTO, will speak at
this 'Cafe & Croissants' organised by ICTSD.
For information, contact Miguel Jimenez- Pont, ICTSD, as above.

FOR ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION, 3-4 December 1998, Washington DC, USA.
The public is invited to participate in a roundtable discussion on 3
December from 9:00 am to 12:00 am.
For information, contact Joint Public Advisory Committee Commission for
Environmental Cooperation, 393 St. Jacques West, Suite 200, Montreal,
Quebec H2Y 1N9, Canada; fax: (1) 514 350 4314; email:

This symposium is being organised by the Colorado Journal of International
Environmental Law and Policy (CJIELP) and will take place on the following
For information, contact William Shapiro, Editor-In-Chief, CJIELP,
University of Colorado School of Law, Box 40, Boulder, CO 80309, USA.


Hosted by the Institute of Development Studies, this initiative is known
as ID21 - or Information for Development in the 21st Century, and its key
feature is a searchable online collection of short, one-page (500-word)
digests of the latest social and economic research studies across 30 key
topic fields. ID21 is now online and can be found at:

and Durwood Zaelke, Center for International Environmental Law, 1998, 1564
To order, call (1) 800 917 7377 or order on-line from or
Foundation Press at

ETUDES INTERNATIONALES, Vol 29, No 4, December 1998.
Among the articles in this issue of Etudes Internationales is that by Afef
Benessaieh entitled "De l'Amerique du Nord au projet hemispherique: les
Etats- Unis, la clause sociale et l'art de la vertu democratique" and the
second by Louicius Michel et Zhan Su entitled "Analyse critique de la
mondialisation: tendances et doctrine".
For information, email or go to

Zarrilli and C. Kinnon, Geneva: UNCTAD, 1998.
To order, contact Simonetta Zarrilli, UNCTAD, Palais des Nations, avenue
de la Paix, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland; tel: (41) 22 907 5622; fax: (41)
22 907 0044.

Table of Contents                           

- Bananas: US Makes New Overture To EU; EU Agrees To Meet With Ecuador
- APEC Meet Casts Doubt On Forum Future
- WTO Members Confirm High Level Meetings
- WTO Agriculture Committee Meets
- More Meaty Matters
- India-U.S. At Odds Over Sanctions
- WTO In Brief
- In Brief
- Events & Resources


There were two new developments last week in the on-going dispute between
the EU and members of the so-called G-5 (U.S., Ecuador, Mexico, Honduras,
and Guatemala) over the EU's proposed revised banana import regime.

First, Ecuador requested that the EU "reactivate" bilateral consultations,
in advance of this week's Dispute Resolution Body (DSB), where the banana
dispute is again on the agenda. Observers noted Ecuador's request could
signal a break between Ecuador and the G-5, which has been dominated by
U.S. interests. Ecuador and the EU had held consultations in September,
prior to the EU publishing its revised import regime. The consultation
request is the first step toward convening a new WTO Panel to decide
whether the EU revised regime does indeed comply with last year's WTO
ruling. One possible outcome of the talks could be that the EU and Ecuador
reach an out of court settlement on the issue. However, according to one
EU official, even if that were accomplished, "We still have to face the
U.S. problem."

In the other development, the U.S. last week proposed to the EU that the
two sides agree to immediately reconvene the original Dispute Settlement
Panel to determine whether the proposed regime complies with the WTO
ruling. According to informed sources, however, the EU would not agree to
reconvene the panel under threat of U.S. sanctions: last week the U.S.
published a list of EU goods on which it would levy a 100 percent duty in
retaliation for what it deemed an EU failure to comply with the WTO ruling
(See BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest, Vol. 2, No. 44, November 16, 1998).
Informed sources reported that the EU has asked that the U.S. sanctions
issue be put on the DSB meeting agenda for November 25, where the EU is
expected to argue against the U.S.' unilateral sanctions move on the
grounds that it violates WTO Dispute Settlement rules. If a Panel is set
up, it would be the first WTO panel convened to determine whether a member
has complied with a DSB ruling, and is thus being closely watched for its
precedent- setting capacity.

"U.S. again seeking quick WTO review of EU banana import regime;" "Text:
Barshefsky letter on bananas," INSIDE US TRADE, November 20, 1998;
"Ecuador move could offer resolution to US-EU banana spat," JOURNAL OF
COMMERCE, November 16, 1998;
"EU may challenge US over banana procedures," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE,
November 17, 1998;
"WTO enters uncharted territory," FINANCIAL TIMES, November 18, 1998;
"Ecuador asks EU for consultations over banana trade dispute," AGENCE
FRANCE-PRESSE, November 16, 1998;
"U.S. set to step back from confrontation," FINANCIAL TIMES, November 17,


The Asia Pacific Economic Forum (APEC) concluded its annual meet last week
in Malaysia, where APEC ministers agreed in effect not to act on two key
initiatives: a long-suffering APEC free trade agreement, moving talks on
trade instead to the WTO (see BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest, Vol. 2,
No. 44 November 16, 1998); and a concrete plan to assist Asia'ws economies
in crisis. Official APEC communications tout the move of trade talks to
the WTO as a show of support and respect for the inclusiveness of global
free trade. Observers warned that the outcome of last week's meeting
casts doubt on APEC's future amid its inability to get things done. "APEC
is being kept alive on a respirator: maybe someone should just pull the
plug so it can die peacefully and everyone can get on with more important
matters," said Nicola Bullard of Focus on the Global South.

APEC's 21 members account for about half of world trade and economic
output. The forum comprises Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong
Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea,
Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand,
the U.S. and Vietnam. Latin American APEC members pushed for and welcomed
the broadening of the participation in the APEC liberalisation talks by
moving them to the WTO. "A widened round as a unique compromise is the
best instrument with which to secure all the interests of the
participants, big or small, developed or underdeveloped, and those
economies will receive balanced, equitable and just benefits during those
(WTO) negotiations," Chile's President Eduardo Frei, Mexican President
Ernesto Zedillo and Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori said in a joint
statement. Ms. Bullock and other observers saw the move as yet another
symptom of APEC's inability to gain consensus on decisions of
significance. "The problem with APEC at the moment is that it is too big
and too diverse, and the trade liberalisation agenda is too narrow to
accommodate all those interests," said Ms. Bullard.

With respect to the financial crisis in Asian economies, APEC ministers
noted a strong commitment to work together to build support for reform in
the financial sector as a way to prevent future economic crises, but said
key talks on financial reform should be taken up by the Group of 22 (G-22)
nations (a grouping of developed and developing countries). One Gareth
Evans, former Australian Foreign Minister, cautioned however that, "As the
only organisation embracing all the economies affected, APEC could and
should have been more than a bystander as the financial and economic
crisis of the last year unfolded." Should APEC fail ultimately to
aggressively and meaningfully take on the Asian economic situation and the
matter of reform, it would leave APEC "totally marginalised as an
institution and its achievement of the last nine years totally
squandered," Mr. Evans noted.

"After nine years, APEC limps along," IPS, November 20, 1998;
"APEC summit yields modest steps on economic crises," DOW JONES, November
18, 1998;
"APEC adrift," FINANCIAL TIMES, November 19, 1998; "APEC- Analysis:
irrelevant, unravelling or maturing?" REUTERS, November 19, 1998;
"APEC talks have few conclusions," WALL STREET JOURNAL, November 19, 1998;
"LATIN AMERICA/APEC: Time to Widen Trade Talks to WTO, Presidents Say,"
IPS, November 18, 1998.


Members of the World Trade Organization met last week to confirm the
High-level meeting on Trade and the Environment and the High-level meeting
on Trade and Development. (See also BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest, Vol.
2, No. 42, November 2, 1998). The dates of these meetings have been also
been fixed: the Trade and Environment meeting will take place on 15-16
March 1999, and the Trade and Development one will run from 17-18 March.

The agenda for the environment meeting will include examination of the
interaction between trade and environmental policies; synergies between
trade liberalization, environmental protection and sustainable
development; and, dialogue between that trade and environment communities.

The development meeting's agenda will be settled at meetings this week.
It is likely to be divided into three broad clusters: the relationship
between trade and development, prospects for ding countries, and
integration of developing countries into the world trading system.

NGOs will be invited to participate in both meetings. 

"WTO Members agree to meetings on trade and environment, development," 
INSIDE US TRADE, November 16, 1998; ICTSD Internal Files.


Chaired by Ambassador Nestor Osorio Londoqo of Colombia, the WTO
Agriculture Committee convened on 17-18 December 1998. In the context of
the Committee's annual review of how least developed countries (LDCs) and
net food-importing developing countries (NFIDCs) are faring under the WTO
agricultural trade reforms, Ambassador Osorio Londono described as good
news the predicted 50% increase in food aid for LDCs and NFIDCs in the
current 1998-99 season, after four years of decline. The forecast
increase, based on a study carried out by the UN Food and Agriculture
Organisation (FAO) is largely a result of greater supplies in donor
countries and a response to higher needs particularly in Asia and the
former Soviet Union.

During last week's Agriculture Committee, several donor countries
expressed concern that current negotiations on a new Food Aid Convention
are behind schedule and agreement might not be reached in time to replace
the present convention which expires on 30 June 1999. LDCs and NFIDCs also
called for more trade finance and technical assistance.

WTO Members at the Agriculture Committee also discussed the issue of so-
called export subsidy roll-over, i.e. countries carrying over unused
portions of their export subsidy commitments for use in subsequent years.
The discussion was triggered by a notification by Poland that included an
export subsidy roll-over for sugar. Critical members argued that roll-over
conflicts with the spirit of the Agricultural Agreement even if it does
not violate the letter of the law. Members also discussed an allegation
that a WTO member is using a state-owned corporation to subsidise sugar
exports, and a separate complaint about another member's subsidies for
canned fruit.

The next meeting of the committee is scheduled for March 1999.

WTO Press Release; ICTSD Internal Files.


Six scientists with Health Canada, the health safety arm of the Canadian
government, have come forward to protest what they claim is pressure by
Health Canada officials to approve drugs for use before adequate testing
had been done. The scientists came forward after a series of drugs and
animal growth hormones were approved despite warnings from government
scientists. Included among these was the beef growth hormone 'Revelor H':
according to the Sierra Club of Canada, an environmental group supporting
the scientists, 'Revelor H' was approved over the objections of three
Health Canada scientists allegedly under political and commercial pressure
to approve the drug while Canada was involved in a WTO dispute with the EU
over the EU ban on hormone- treated beef imports. "Very simply, the health
protection branch of the government of Canada is being dismantled and now
directly serves transnational food, drug and chemical corporations,"
according to Maude Barlow, director of the citizens' action group Council
of Canadians. "Food inspection has been given over to a new agency whose
mandate is to promote trade, not to protect health."

In other news, the European Commission (EC) last week proposed a new
strategy for dealing with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad
cow disease, dealing specifically with so-called specified risk material
(SRM). SRM includes cattle parts such as brains and tallow used in
pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. The EC proposal would place exporting
countries into one of four classes of risk, with risk being defined by the
incidence of BSE in the exporting country; whether the SRM is derived from
imported or domestic cattle; and disease surveillance mechanisms. If
approved by EU states, the classification system would go into place
September 1999. The proposal would most likely allow the EU to avoid a
trade war with the U.S., as previous proposals for dealing with SRM would
have halted U.S. exports of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics that contained
SRM ingredients.

"Threat of 'mad-cow' trade row lifted," FINANCIAL TIMES, November 19,
"Vache folle: Bruxelles veut 'regionaliser' les risques," LA TRIBUNE,
November 19, 1998;
"AGRICULTURE-CANADA: Scientists Reject Hormone Growth in Cattle," IPS,
November 15, 1998.


The U.S. November 16 announced it would bar American companies from doing
business with nearly 300 Indian and Pakistani firms and agencies as part
of an ongoing, but eased, U.S. sanctions regime devised to punish India
and Pakistan for nuclear tests conducted last May. The U.S. published a
list of over 300 government agencies and private companies in India and
Pakistan which would now be barred from buying U.S. goods that could have
an application in either the nuclear or conventional military sectors.
India immediately announced it would lodge a complaint against the U.S. at
the WTO. "We will lodge a strong protest with the WTO against the U.S.
action, as it is not consistent with WTO policies and regulations," Indian
Commerce Minister Ramakrishna Hegde said. Further official Indian reaction
called the U.S. move "unhelpful for meaningful discussions toward an
improvement in bilateral relations," but Indian business interests
predicted that the U.S. move would have little affect on Indian
businesses. "This would affect the Americans more that the Indians. Though
it would take more time for Indian businesses to arrange for alternative
procurement sources, it would be [more] difficult for Americans to avoid
doing business with India as a market," an official with the Federation of
Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said.

Observers characterised the U.S. announcement as confusing, coming as it
did just a week after the Clinton Administration announced easing of
almost all economic sanctions against India and Pakistan for their nuclear
tests last spring (see BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest, Vol. 2, No. 44
November 16, 1998). U.S. officials noted that the timing of the two moves
was coincidental and not contradictory.

"US policy on India causes confusion;" "India threatens WTO complaint on
US sanctions," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, November 17, 1998;
 "India to take U.S.  sanctions issue to WTO," ECONOMIC TIMES (India),
November 16, 1998. 


Trade experts and economists from the Group of 77 (G-77) developing
nations last week said loopholes and rigidities in the WTO system are
hampering global free trade. Agricultural subsidies, environmental and
labour standards in developed countries work together to create barriers
to export growth in developing countries, trade experts said, noting that
using such mechanisms goes against the ideology of free trade. Other trade
experts noted that developing countries must develop tools to use
international trade rules to better defend their interests at the WTO
against developed countries' manoeuvres. "WTO regime not serving free
trade well - experts," REUTERS, November 16, 1998.

The Dispute Settlement Body meeting this week will witness what could be
termed a "clash of trains" as some of the WTO most powerful members engage
in quarrels over traditionally sensitive trade issues. The EU is
requesting the establishment of a panel to look into the US Antidumping
Act of 1916: the main instrument used by the US to counter "unfair" trade
practices which in the view of many other countries has been rather
applied historically as a highly effective and discriminatory
protectionist tool. On a different case, Japan is requesting establishment
of a panel to review the so-called "Auto Pact" -the agreement between the
US and Canada which grants certain preferential conditions to imports of
US manufacturers. On a third separate case, the EU is requesting the
establishment of a panel to overturn key aspects of the Canadian Patent
Act concerning patent protection of pharmaceutical products. ICTSD
Internal Files.

The EU warned the US earlier this month that it might retaliate against
U.S. quantitative limitations placed on wheat gluten imports from the EU,
Australia and other countries. Imposed in June, the restrictions could
last up to five years. The EU announced at a meeting of the WTO Safeguards
Committee earlier this month, that it would withdraw a trade concession
worth US$15.7 million if the U.S. does not withdraw gluten import
restrictions within a set period. The U.S. called the EU move "premature."
"Temporary farm measures spark import feud at WTO," JOURNAL OF COMMMERCE,
November 18, 1998.

European Trade Commissioner Sir Leon Brittan last week said the
environment and consumer rights should be addressed as part of a proposed
new global trade round. "A Millennium round of trade talks should not just
benefit business. We can and should ensure that consumers and the
environment also gain," Sir Leon said. (See also BRIDGES Weekly Trade News
Digest, Vol. 2 No. 44, November 16, 1998).

"Environment On Board for Millenium Trade Talks," ENS, November 18, 1998.


The European Commission (EC) last week announced its adoption of a
comprehensive strategy for the sustainable development of European
forests. The EC says the strategy is based on the "multi-functional nature
of forests," and aims to strike a balance between environmental protection
and the economic and social development of European forests. The strategy
could include "a legal instrument laying down essential

"EU Adopts First Sustainable Forest Strategy," ENS, November 19, 1998.

In Chile, Fiscalia del Medio Ambiente (FIMA - Environmental Prosecutor's
Office), is seeking four court injunctions against large- scale investment
projects and to enforce Chilean constitutional provisions on environmental
quality of life. One of the injunctions is against Chilean President
Eduardo Frei for a decree that sets the maximum permissible level of
particles in the air in the Santiago metropolitan area, one of the most
polluted areas in Latin America.

"Environment-Chile: New Eco-Prosecutors Get Cracking," IPS, November 16,

Greenpeace and the Basel Action Network (BAN) last week said the export to
developing countries of EU ships for scrapping was "immoral and illegal."
The groups said the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of
Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal clearly forbids the export of ships
containing toxic materials for scrapping in non-OECD countries. The groups
said EU shipping companies are exploiting a loophole in the Basel
Convention because cargo ships leaving EU ports for dismantling often
carry cargo and are therefore classed as working vessels, not covered by
the waste export ban.

"EU 'Toxic' Ship Exports to Asia Attacked," ENS, November 19, 1998.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week released data showing
total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rose 10.3 percent in 1996 from 1990
baseline levels. The increase is the largest single year increase in the
six-year period measured thus far in the official EPS emissions inventory.
The EPA inventory is required as part of the U.S. commitment as a Party to
the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

"U.S. greenhouse emissions rising," ENS, November 17, 1998.

BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest) is published by the 
International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development 
with support from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade 
Policy.  Editor: Caroline Dommen, ICTSD, Geneva Executive 
Center, 13 ch. des Anemones, 1219 Geneva, Switzerland; 
email:; tel: (41-22) 917 8497; fax: (41-
22) 917 8093. Executive Director: Ricardo Melindez-Ortiz, 
address as above, email:

Excerpts from BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest) may be used 
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