BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 2, Number 46 November 30, 1998
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EVENTS & RESOURCES
30 November-2 December 1998: Regional Trade Agreements Committee.
For information, contact Hans-Peter Werner, WTO, tel: (41) 22 739 5286.
1-2 December 1998: TRIPS (intellectual property) Council.
For information, contact Peter Unghakorn, WTO, tel: (41) 22 739 5412.
2 December 1998: Informal General Council.
For information, contact Keith Rockwell, WTO, tel: (41) 22 739 5007.
3 December 1998: Informal Meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body, to
discuss the Dispute Settlement Review.
For information, contact Nuch Nazeer, WTO, (41) 22 739 5111.
Committee on Trade and Environment meetings planned for 1999: 18-19
February (market access cluster), 29-30 June (multilateral cluster) and
12-13 October (all ten items).
WORKERS RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS: LINKING TRADE AND CORE LABOUR STANDARDS,
3-4 December 1998, Madrid, Spain.
For information, contact Katherin Schick, Deputy Secretary General,
Solidar, Rue du Commerce 22, 1000 Brussels, Belgium; tel: (32) 2 500 1020;
fax: (32) 2 500 1030.
UNEP/UNCTAD WORKSHOP ON ENVIRONMENTAL ACCOUNTING, 5-6 December 1998,
For information, contact Hussein Abaza, Trade and Environment Unit, UNEP,
Geneva, Switzerland; tel: (41) 22 917 8179; fax: (41) 22 796 9240; e-mail:
THE WTO'S SHRIMP-TURTLE DECISION: FREE TRADE VS. THE ENVIRONMENT?, 8
December 1998, Washington DC, USA.
For information, contact Jenye Patterson, The Cato Institute, 1000
Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington DC 20001, USA; tel: (1) 202 789 5229;
fax: (1) 202 371 0841; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Farming Salmon: A Briefing Book," by Michael Weber, 1997, 35 pp.
This publication is an overview of salmon farming including some of the
associated impacts on the environment such as pesticide and chemical use,
waste, and effects on wildlife.
To order, contact Consultative Group on Biological Diversity (CGBD), P.O.
Box 29361, San Francisco, CA 94129, USA; tel: (1) 415 561 6575; email:
"Water: What Are Our Rights To It?," by Rajut Chaudhuri, 1998, 34 pp.
Focuses on water issues in India, examining drinking water quality,
international drinking water rights guidelines and Indian national laws.
To order, contact Consumer Trust and Unity Society/Safety Watch, 3-B
Camac St., Calcutta 700 016, India; tel: (91) 33 29 7391; fax (91 33) 29
7665; email; email@example.com; web: www.cuts.org
"Global Product Chains: Northern Consumers, Southern Producers, and
Sustainability," Volume 15, Environment and Trade Series, United Nations
Environment Programme, 1998, 303 pp.
To order free copies, contact Economics, Trade and Environment Unit,
UNEP, 15 chemin des Anemones, 1219 Geneva, Switzerland; fax: (41) 22 917
8179; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Fisheries, Subsidies, Overfishing and Trade," Volume 16, Environment and
Trade Series, United Nations Environment Programme, 1998, 75 pp.
To order free copies, contact Economics, Trade and Environment Unit,
UNEP, as above.
Table of Contents
- Ozone Meet Yields Agreement On Process Agents
- U.S. To Comply With WTO Shrimp Ruling At Turtle's Pace--Complainants
- EU, U.S. Try To Break Banana Impasse
- WTO Members State Positions on TRIPS Review
- WTO TBT Committee Meets
- Japan Appeals WTO Apple Ruling; Imposes Rice Tariffs
- People's Agreement Urges Labour, Environment Provisions For FTAA
- CEC Calls For Comments on Citizen Submission Process
- In Brief
- WTO In Brief
- Events & Resources
OZONE MEET YIELDS AGREEMENT ON PROCESS AGENTS
The 10th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances
that Deplete the Ozone Layer took place November 23-24 in Cairo. Delegates
met to harmonise ozone depletion and global warming policies as well as to
discuss ongoing efforts to reverse destruction of the earth's ozone
The 1987 Montreal Protocol is the international environmental agreement
designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. Governments agreed to
phase out chemicals that destroy ozone in the stratosphere: ozone is
essential for shielding humans, plants, and animals from the damaging
effects of ultraviolet light. Ozone-depleting substances include
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), carbon tetrachloride, methyl chloroform and
halons. While the use of most ozone-depleting substances has been phased
out in developed countries, CFC production facilities in developing
countries (such as India and China) as well as Eastern European countries
notably Russia, still exist.
Delegates agreed to a list of 25 applications in which ozone-depleting
substances may be used as so-called process agents. Process agents are
substances that are captured, recycled, and reused in closed chemical
production systems. Delegates also recommended new measures to limit the
export of new and used products and equipment that require CFCs or other
As part of the decision on process agents, delegates committed to a ban on
new facilities using controlled substances as process agents from June 30,
1999--in both developed and developing nations. The decision was intended
to guarantee that multinational firms do not move production operations
using process agents from industrialised countries to developing
countries, which will only begin to freeze consumption and production in
1999 (with a complete phaseout by 2010). Delegates also agreed as part of
the decision on process agents to commit the Montreal Protocol's
Multilateral Fund to finance "cost- effective measures, including, for
example, process conversions, plant closures, emissions control
technologies, and industrial rationalisation to reduce emissions of
controlled substances from process agent uses" in eligible developing
countries. Delegates agreed not to fund projects aimed at building new
plants with efficient emission control equipment. India had pushed for
such funding as one of the heaviest users of process agents in developing
countries, but countries opposed to funding cleaner facilities noted that
the Multilateral Fund was designed to help developing countries move away
from the use of ozone-depleting substances, not to subsidise less- harmful
uses. The Fund was established in 1990 to pay the agreed incremental costs
incurred by developing countries in phasing out ozone- depleting
substances. It has approved $850 million in support of projects to phase
out 117,000 tonnes of CFC consumption, equal to 60 percent of developing
Delegates also tackled the complicated issue of how to make policies that
protect the ozone layer compatible with Kyoto Protocol efforts to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. The need for
harmonisation is evident in the fact that so-called ozone-safe substitutes
for chlorofluorcarbons (CFCs) (CFCs are known to contribute to global
warming), such as HFCs and PFCs, are urged under the Montreal Protocol,
while actively discouraged under the December 1997 Kyoto Protocol on
climate change. HFCs and PFCs have been found to contribute to climate
change. This environmental conundrum must be addressed as developing
countries begin to phase out CFC use and look for available substitutes.
"New Measures on Process Agent Use Set by Parties to Montreal Protocol,"
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT REPORTER, November 25, 1998;
"Cairo ministerial meeting links climate change and ozone solutions,"
UNEP PRESS RELEASE, November 23, 1998;
"Global Meeting Links Climate, Ozone Solutions," ENS, November 25, 1998.
U.S. TO COMPLY WITH WTO SHRIMP RULING AT TURTLE'S PACE--COMPLAINANTS WORRY
The United States last week told the WTO Dispute Settlement Body that it
would comply with a WTO ruling against its ban on wild shrimp imports. The
U.S. said it would implement the WTO ruling in a way consistent with its
WTO obligations but also consistent with what U.S. Deputy Trade
Representative Rita Hayes called a "firm commitment to the protection of
endangered species, including sea turtles." Ms. Hayes added, "the
Appellate Body report does not suggest that we weaken our environmental
laws in any respect, and we do not intend to do so."
The dispute was brought to the WTO in 1996 by India, Malaysia, Pakistan
and Thailand, who were complaining about U.S. restrictions on imports of
certain shrimp and shrimp products not caught with nets fitted with a
special "turtle excluder device" which prevent turtles from drowning.
The WTO Appellate Body ruled in October in the so-called shrimp-turtle
dispute between the U.S. and Thailand, India, Malaysia, Pakistan (See
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 2, Nos. 39 & 40 October 12 & 19,
1998), in which it found that WTO members do have the right to make market
access conditional on compliance with environmental protection measures
"within the scope of measures permitted" under the exceptions clause
(Article XX) of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), thus
allowing the U.S. shrimp import ban in theory. However, the WTO ruled that
the U.S. erred in its application of the ban, which the WTO found to be
applied in a discriminatory manner between WTO members.
WTO rules afford a 15-month period for DSB rulings to be implemented--
either by revising a trade regime or by instituting a policy of
compensating injured WTO members for lost trade. The U.S. noted last week
that it would "require a reasonable period of time to complete the
compliance process," which trade observers note could mean the U.S. will
take the maximum time allowed to define and implement a compliance plan.
Thailand, India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Malaysia urged the U.S. to
implement a "full and prompt" response to the WTO ruling, and called on
the U.S. to lift the ban on shrimp imports immediately. Noting the
economic damage the U.S. ban has caused Pakistan, Pakistan's Ambassador
to the WTO Munir Akram called for the immediate lifting of the U.S. import
ban, noting that "sustainable development cannot be achieved if economic
development is stifled." The complaining countries are wary that the U.S.
will utilise delaying tactics such as those used by the EU in the WTO
banana dispute) to put off a compliance regime.
Thailand et al. complained as well that the DSB overstepped its authority
in its shrimp-turtle ruling. "The decision was very significant because it
will affect cases in the future," a Thai Commerce Department official said
last week. "Allowing any country to use environmental conservation as a
reason to enforce its domestic laws in other countries would lead to more
protectionism." The Thai official noted also that WTO rules contain
loopholes around compliance with DSB rulings, posing a threat to the WTO
"U.S. Will Obey Trade Ruling on Endangered Turtles," ENS, November
"U.S. may take more time for lifting ban on shrimp imports," ECONOMIC
TIMES (India), November 27, 1998;
"Thais press US on shrimp laws," BANGKOK POST, November 23, 1998;
"U.S. Compliance with Shrimp/Turtle Decision To Be Unveiled at Nov. 25
DSB Meeting," INTERNATIONAL TRADE REPORTER, November 18, 1998.
EU, U.S. TRY TO BREAK BANANA IMPASSE
As BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest went to press, EU and U.S. senior
level negotiators met to resolve the long standing dispute over the EU
banana import regime. The two sides were to try and agree on a timetable
by which a WTO Panel could decide whether the EU's revised banana import
regime complies with a 1997 WTO ruling. The U.S. favours an accelerated
schedule, demanding a January 15 deadline by which the original Dispute
Settlement Panel would reconvene and rule on whether the EU has gone far
enough in its revised banana import regime to satisfy the spirit of the
The EU does not oppose reconvening the original Panel to decide whether it
has complied with the WTO ruling; however, the EU last week said it would
not agree to convene the Panel under threat of unilateral sanctions by the
U.S. The sanctions, not coincidentally, are set to go into effect January
15 if the EU does not comply with the WTO ruling. (The U.S. earlier this
month, under pressure from corporate banana interests, threatened to
impose punitive duties on a select list of EU imports if the EU did not
revise its banana import regime to be consistent with WTO rules. See
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 2, No. 44, November 16, 1998.)
In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky November 23,
EU Trade Commissioner Sir Leon Brittan charged that the Jan. 15 deadline
was suggested by the U.S. only because it coincided with the U.S. timeline
under which it would retaliate against the EU for its alleged failure to
implement a WTO consistent regime. "The U.S. is twisting the WTO
procedures to fit its own arbitrary and illegal unilateral sanctions
timetable. That is unacceptable. [The U.S.] is trying to use the threat of
unilateral sanctions to exert pressure on the procedures," a spokesperson
for Sir Leon said last week.
"U.S., EU to clash over timing of WTO panel review on banana regime,"
INSIDE U.S. TRADE, November 27, 1998;
"EU stalls for time in banana dispute," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, November 24,
"U.S. renews banana battle with European Union," IPS, November 23, 1998;
"Brussels rejects US banana peace offer," FINANCIAL TIMES, November 20,
"Talks to resume Monday," FINANCIAL TIMES, November 27, 1998.
WTO MEMBERS STATE POSITIONS ON TRIPS REVIEW [TRIPS = Trade-related
Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights]
At the 23-24 November meeting of the WTO's General Council, which
considered the Review of the Built-In Agenda, a few countries started what
could be described as jockeying for positions as we move towards the
beginning of negotiations regarding the review of Article 27.3(b) of the
Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) Agreement,
due to be completed in 1999. Artile 27.3 (b) allows States to exclude some
plants and animals from patentability, but requires States to provide for
protection of plant varieties either by patents or by an effective sui
The EU stressed "the common interest of members in ensuring that the TRIPs
Agreement keeps up with new technological developments, . . ." Cuba, El
Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Dominican Republic called for a
extension of the exemption clauses in 27.3(b). They also emphasized the
need for the provisons in TRIPs to be compatible with the Convention of
Biological Diversity and in particular with the concept of national
sovereignty of resource-rich countries over access and control of their
biological resources. They also called for compensation for the country,
region, or ethnic group providing the genetic material. Egypt called for
status quo on 27.3(b), which it said should not to be altered at this
As BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest goes to press, the General Council on
TRIPS is meeting and will also discuss the review of Article 27.3 (b).
These discussions will be reported on in more detail next week.
ICTSD Internal Files.
WTO TBT COMMITTEE MEETS
Two meetings of the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)
were held earlier this month. The first (informal) meeting, held on 19
November, heard presentations by a number of international organisations
concerned with standardisation. These included: Codex Alimentarius from
the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Health Organisation
(WHO), the International Standardisation Organisation, the International
Telecommunications Union, and the Organisation on Economic Cooperation and
At the next (formal) meeting, held on 20 November, the European Commission
was challenged by the US on its proposed measures that would block the
entry of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the EU. The EC claimed
that its measures fall within the scope of the TBT Agreement, and added
that it is in the process of drafting a reply to the US, which claims that
the EU is not providing adequate scientific rationale for its proposed
legislation. According to WTO sources, the EC response will be available
"very shortly." For its part, Japan said that the issue of GMO labelling
is still under discussion in its government.
Also under inspection at the TBT meeting was a Dutch labelling bill that
would impose requirements for sustainably managed forestry practices on
timber imported into the Netherlands. The bill is currently in process
through the Dutch upper house of parliament. The Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as Norway, Poland, Ecuador and Canada,
voiced their concern that the draft legislation contravenes the TBT
Agreement as well as the International Tropical Timber Agreement. The EC
stated that the concerns of other WTO Members would be considered by the
ICTSD Internal Files.
JAPAN APPEALS WTO APPLE RULING; IMPOSES RICE TARIFFS
Japan last week announced its appeal against a WTO panel ruling against
its import-testing regime for apple and other agricultural imports. The
WTO Panel ruled in October that Japan's testing requirements for
agricultural imports (specifically apples, nectarines, cherries and
walnuts) violate international trade rules. The U.S. brought the complaint
to the WTO, arguing that the testing took up to two years to complete and
thus posed an illegal barrier to trade. The WTO rejected Japan's argument
that variety-by-variety inspection of the agricultural products is
necessary to protect against the spread of the codling moth pest in Japan.
While the Panel acknowledged Japan's right to establish testing measures ,
it said Japan lacked adequate scientific evidence to support its
variety-by-variety testing method. Japan argues in its appeal that its
regime is indeed based on scientific evidence showing that the effects of
pest-destroying fumigation differ between fruit varieties.
In other news, Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
last week outlined plans to adopt a so-called tariffication scheme for
rice imports by April 1999. The proposed scheme would impose up to 1000
percent tariffs on imported rice, which Japanese officials said was
necessary to bridge the price gap between domestic rice and cheap foreign
imports and protect domestic producers. Tariffication would replace the
current Japanese "minimum access" policy for rice imports, which obliges
Japan to import rice equal to eight percent of total domestic consumption
by 2000. Japan began importing at a rate of four percent consumption in
1995 and committed to an annual 0.8 percent increase in imports each year.
By adopting tariffication, Japan would now be allowed to slow its
mandatory increase in imports to 0.4 percent per year. While the
tariffication scheme is an option prescribed under the General Agreement
on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), Japan is still expected to face strong
opposition to its rice policy from rice exporting countries when WTO
agriculture talks get underway next year.
"Japan appeals WTO ruling against apple import testing," KYODO NEWS
INTERNATIONAL, November 25, 1998;
"Japan considers imposing 100% tariff on rice imports-Nikkei," DOW JONES,
November 25, 1998;
"JAPAN-US: Trade Friction Looms Despite Clinton Visit," IPS, November 22,
"Japan may accept WTO rice tariff schemes next April," KYODO NEWS
INTERNATIONAL, November 21, 1998.
PEOPLE'S AGREEMENT URGES LABOUR, ENVIRONMENT PROVISIONS FOR FTAA
Advocates of "just and sustainable development" are forging a 'People's
Hemispheric Agreement' to enhance the Free Trade Area of the Americas
(FTAA) agreement. FTAA is a hemispheric-wide trade agreement currently
being negotiated, which would link economies from the Yukon to Patagonia
by 2005. According to a draft report, "Alternatives for the Americas,"
People's Hemispheric Agreement organisers argue that "trade and
investment should not be ends in themselves, but rather the instruments
for achieving just and sustainable development."
Among other things, the report calls for the FTAA to include "a common
human rights agenda" for all signatories; provisions which would allow
governments to channel investment towards environmentally sustainable
economic activities and file complaints against one another for seeking
commercial advantage "at the expense of sustainability." Further, the
report calls for food security provisions and intellectual property
provisions that would protect the rights of those workers whose livelihood
is derived from biodiversity endeavours (farmers, fishers) against
multinational interests. The report also calls for the environmental costs
related to economic activity to be proportionately distributed, with the
heaviest burden falling on rich nations which "occupy an exaggerated
The report's sponsors include Canada's Common Frontiers, the Chilean
Network for a People's Initiative (RECHIP), the Mexican Action Network on
Free Trade (RMALC), the U.S.-based Alliance for Responsible Trade, and
Reseau quebecois sur l'integration continentale (Quebec Network on
In other news, the Mexican Senate last week approved an expanded free
trade agreement with Chile. The agreement, originally signed in 1991, will
now include provisions on trade in services, intellectual property, rules
of origin and reciprocal investment. Since 1990, trade between the two
countries has increased from US$158 million to US$1.4 billion annually.
Also last week, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) announced plans to open
a trade office in Havana, Cuba. This is a further step in Caricom's
attempt to include Cuba in regional trade activities. Cuba currently holds
observer status in the regional grouping. A Caricom press statement said
also that a draft agreement on preferential trade with Cuba is also under
"TRADE: Labour, Environment Key to Alternative Trade Pact," IPS, November
"Mexican Senate ratifies free-trade agreement with Chile," DOW JONES,
November 25, 1998;
"Caricom to open Havana trade office," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, November 25,
CEC CALLS FOR COMMENTS ON CITIZEN SUBMISSION PROCESS
The Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) of the Commission for
Environmental Cooperation (CEC) is calling for public comments on the
revised guidelines for citizen submissions on enforcement matters under
Articles 14 and 15 of the North American Agreement on Environmental
Cooperation (NAAEC). JPAC is seeking public input and recommendations to
form the basis for its advice to the CEC Council on the guidelines for
In addition, a JPAC working group will convene a workshop where
individuals from each country will be selected to represent various groups
and interests. The selection, to be made by the working group, will be
based on those who made the most substantive comments. This workshop will
be held in January 1999 at the CEC Secretariat in Montreal, Canada.
The deadline for submitting comments is 9 December 1998 and they can be
sent to: 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: email@example.com
The first prefabricated house built entirely from wood certified by the
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was constructed this month in Brazil. The
house, used as a display model in a showroom near Rio de Janeiro, was
built from certified Amazon hardwood from an FSC certified plantation.
Regional developers plan to produce four houses per month off this model.
FSC certification indicates that the forests from which wood is harvested
utilises sustainable management practices. "First prefabricated house in
the world built with certified wood is launched in Brazil,
" WWF PRESS RELEASE, November 26, 1998.
Codex Alimentarius, the food standards body of the UN, last week announced
its committee on chocolate standards was unable to reach agreement on
whether non-cocoa butter vegetable fats (such as natural oils) should be
allowed for use in chocolate. Cocoa producing countries (mainly Southern
countries) oppose including non-cocoa butter vegetable fats, and view
inclusion as a threat to their cocoa exports. The EU is currently debating
a law that would allow the inclusion of 5 percent on non-cocoa butter
vegetable fats in its chocolate directive, but the proposal faces strong
opposition from France, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
"La bataille du chocolat s'enlise dans la graisse," TRIBUNE DE GENEVE,
November 25, 1998;
"Codex fails to reach agreement on chocolate standard," DOW JONES,
November 26, 1998.
Thousands of fishworkers November 21 participated in rallies and other
forums as part of World Fisheries Day, co-ordinated by the World Forum of
Fish-harvesters and Fishworkers. Coastal fishworkers in Africa, Asia,
South and North America renewed their pledge to work to stop the "reckless
plunder of the seas by industrial fleets owned by transnational
corporations, leading to substantial depletion of fish stocks and
endangering the food security of millions of people." The World Forum, a
grouping of organisations mainly from developing countries, was launched
"ENVIRONMENT: Fishworkers Building Coastal Commons," IPS, November 23,
In the first criminal felony case brought against alleged smugglers of
internationally protected corals and seashells, a Florida (U.S.) grand
jury last week indicted a Florida importer and a Philippines exporter for
conspiring to smuggle protected corals and seashells into the U.S. The
parties are charged with conspiring to violate the Endangered Species Act,
which implements the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species (CITES) in the U.S. and the Lacey Act, a U.S. anti- wildlife
trafficking statute, as well as violating the Lacey Act's false wildlife
"Smugglers of Endangered Corals Indicted," ENS, November 24, 1998.
France has adopted legislation that appears to violate EU rules regarding
trade in elephant products. In November 1997, the EU adopted Regulation
2307/97 to implement all decisions taken by the 10th Conference of the
Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
(CITES). At that meeting, Parties decided to allow controlled trade in raw
ivory from Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe to Japan as of 18 March 1999,
provided certain conditions were met. The decision also provides, inter
alia, for the commercial export of elephant hides and non-commercial
export of leather goods and ivory carvings from Zimbabwe as of 18
September 1997. CITES allows Parties to take "stricter domestic
measures" than those specified by the treaty, but the EU regulation in
effect since 27 November 1997 is "binding in its entirety and directly
applicable in all Member States". However, France on 1 September 1998
started enforcing a decree (ATEN9870249A) prohibiting imports of
Zimbabwean elephant hides and hide artefacts, as well ivory sculptures for
non-commercial purposes. In addition, the French decree restricts imports
of live elephants from Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana to those for
"scientific purposes", while the EU- approved CITES resolution allows
imports from Botswana and Zimbabwe to "appropriate and acceptable
destinations". The French restrictions are in force until 18 March 1999.
To date, the European Commission has not initiated proceedings against
France, nor is it clear whether the French measures will effectively be
rescinded in March 1999.
ICTSD Internal Files.
WTO IN BRIEF
Hong Kong this month hosted an informal meeting for WTO ministers from
Argentina, Australia, Chile, Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Morocco, New
Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand and Uruguay. The
informal closed-door meeting focused on the scope of a proposed new round
of global trade talks. WTO Ministers expect to agree on whether to launch
a new round when they meet at the Third WTO Ministerial Conference
scheduled for November 1999. At the meeting, Hong Kong again pushed for
the rapid accession of China to the WTO.
"Hong Kong hosts WTO informal ministerial meeting," AGENCE
FRANCE-PRESSE, November 20, 1998.
Also last week, ASEAN called for the "continuation of the Committee on
Trade and Environment as established in Marrakesh and reconfirmed in
ICTSD Internal Files.
New Zealand will act as chair of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation
(APEC) in 1999. As part of its responsibilities, New Zealand is charged
with moving the APEC Food System forward, an initiative geared toward
increasing agricultural infrastructure, agricultural trade facilitation
and technical co-operation in APEC countries. The work is intended to
prepare APEC for WTO agricultural talks set to begin next year.
"NZ sees APEC food deal as step toward WTO agriculture deal," DOW JONES,
November 27, 1998.
Saudi Arabia earlier this month put forward a revised market access offer
in its bid to join the WTO. Saudi Arabia lowered its binding tariff rate
for industrial products and for agricultural goods. The U.S. and EU said
important sectors, including procurement and telecommunications, were left
out of the Saudi Arabian offer, and further criticised the Saudi Arabia
for pursuing a developing country admission track, when its economic
position is distinct from most developing economies. Developing countries
including Egypt and Kuwait, however, urged for the speedy admission of
Saudi Arabia to the WTO.
"US, others pan Saudi WTO market access offer," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE,
November 20, 1998.
A WTO Dispute Settlement Panel is to decide the first case involving the
WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, when it considers
the dispute between Brazil and Canada over whether Brazil misused an
export subsidy programme to unfairly build up Embraer--a Brazilian
aircraft manufacturer that competes with Canadian aircraft manufacturer
Bombardier. Brazil is expected to argue, under Article 27 of the WTO
Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, that as a developing
country the export subsidy programme was in compliance with WTO rules.
"Geneva panel will rule on air dispute," FINANCIAL TIMES, November 24,
WTO negotiators last week set a December 11 deadline for reaching
agreement on tariff cuts for information technology products, in a deal
that would broaden the 1997 WTO Information Technology Agreement. However,
India, Malaysia and Thailand complained that a draft agreement was drawn
up without consulting developing countries, and charged that the draft
agreement lacked credibility because it clearly represented only rich
countries' interests. Specifically, India opposes including goods that are
not directly information-technology related in the agreement, including
dual and multiple-use goods.
"WTO negotiators set deadline for IT product tariff cuts deal," AGENCE
FRANCE-PRESSE, November 24, 1998;
"India decries move to cobble up IT pact by some WTO members," DECCAN
HERALD, November 23, 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
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