GENTECH archive


BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest-Vol.3, Number 47-- 8 December, 1999


For a more complete list of events, please refer to ICTSD's web calendar


An updated list of forthcoming WTO meetings is posted at Please bear in mind that dates and
times of WTO meetings are often changed, and that the WTO does not always
announce the important informal meetings of different WTO bodies. Unless
otherwise indicated, all WTO meetings are held at the WTO, Centre William
Rappard, Rue de Lausanne 154, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland.

  For information contact Nuch Nazeer, WTO tel: (41 22) 739-5393.


3 - 5 December: GOVERNANCE OF THE OCEANS. Organised by Wilton Park, this
conference will address topics including: How can the international
community manage the oceans more effectively?; What more needs to be done
to follow up the Spring 1999 Commission on Sustainable Development?; Which
policy options are most realistic?; and Are there ways of generating
greater public and political support for urgent action?. Speakers include
Satya Nandan, Secretary General, International Seabed Authority, Maureen
Walker, Deputy Director, Office of Ocean Affairs, U.S. State Department,
John Caddy Chief, Marine Resources Service, Food and Agriculture
Organisation, and Patricio Bernal, Executive Secretary, Intergovernmental
Oceanographic Commission.
  For information contact Wilton Park, te: (44-0) 1903- 817766, fax:
1903-897647, email:, web:

MILLENNIUM. Hosted by the Headquarters Air Force Center for Environmental
Excellence, this 4th Annual Joint Services Pollution Prevention Conference
will discuss Hazardous Waste Management. The forum is designed for
exchanging ideas, success stories, case histories and technologies related
to P2 and hazardous waste management.
  For information contact Alison King, tel: (1-703) 247-9478, email: , web:

Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention for the Protection
and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region.
  For information contact: UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme, Regional
Co-ordinating Unit, 14 - 20 Port Royal Street Kingston, Jamaica, W.I.,
tel: (1-876) 922 - 9267, fax: 922 - 9292, email:;

6-10 December, Basel, Switzerland: FIFTH SESSION OF THE CONFERENCE OF THE
  For information contact Secretariat of the Basel Convention, tel:
(41-22) 979-9111, fax: 797-3454, email: , web:

7-8 December, London, UK: CONFERENCE ON COMMUNITY FORESTRY. Organised by
the Countryside Agency, in conjunction with the Forestry Commission and
England's Community Forests. This conference will address how community
forestry can provide an integrated approach to the regeneration of
landscapes in and around towns and cities and how to provide social,
economic and environmental benefits.
  For information contact, R. Walsh, Entec UK Ltd, Gables House,
Kenilworth Road, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, CV32 6JX, England, email:

13-15 December Tucson, Arizona, USA: U.S.-AFRICA ENERGY MINISTERS
CONFERENCE. Approximately 600 participants are expected to attend the
event including African energy ministers, international organisations,
private sector representatives, regional African organisations, and
academic institutions.
  For more information contact: Jayne Brady, tel: (1-202) 586-5806; or
Mary Okoye, tel: (1-520) 791-4204, web:


By Jim Puckett. This book focuses on how the World Trade Organization
(WTO) threatens environmental protection and public health. It discusses
trade in toxics, threats to the precautionary principle, and explains the
current status of the WTO's discussion of "chemical and allied products"
sector, slated for expedited agreement to promote trade. Also discussed
are attempts by Australia to limit the treaty on persistent organic
pollutants (POPs). 38 pp. Free with donation to Basel Action Network
  To order contact: Asia Pacific Environmental Exchange (APEX), 1827 39th
Ave. E., Seattle, Washington 98112, tel: (1-206) 720-6426, email: or contact BAN, email:, web:

FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM? 1999. By Debi Barker and Jerry Mander. This book
provides an introduction to development and the structure of World Trade
Organization (WTO) and explains the implications for environment,
agriculture, food, public health, intellectual property rights, etc. The
section dealing with environment covers key WTO provisions and rulings
having environmental effects and discusses status of trade agreements on
wood products and water. The agriculture, food, and public health section
includes explanation of rulings on bananas, beef, dairy products, and
pesticide residue levels. 45 pp. US$5 for IFG members, US$8 for
  To order contact: International Forum on Globalization, 1555 Pacific
Ave., San Francisco, CA 94109, tel: (1-415) 771-3394, fax: 771-1102,
email:, web:

December, 1999.  By Robin Rosenberg.  This short paper discusses why the
Seattle Ministerial, intended to launch the Millennium Round of
multilateral trade negotiations, failed and considers how this failure may
be good news for the regional trade integration process in the Americas.
For example, the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) could benefit from
having negotiators freed up from global liberalization talks to focus on
the more far-reaching goals of a free trade agreement among a community of
democracies with much more cohesion than the disparate and conflicting
interplay of interests at the WTO. 
  For more information contact the North-South Center, University of
Miami, 1500 Monza Ave., Coral Gables, FL 33146-3027, tel: (1-305)
284-6868, fax: 284-6370, email:

THE BATTLE IN SEATTLE: CAFOD BRIEFING.  December, 1999.  By Duncan Green.
This briefing paper from the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development looks
at the Seattle WTO Ministerial and addresses such topics as what was at
stake in the talks and developed versus developing countries' positions on
such issues as labour standards, the environment, and globalisation.  The
paper concludes with a consideration of whether the breakdown in talks was
a good or bad thing. 
  For information contact Public Policy Unit, CAFOD, Romero Close,
Stockwell Road, London, SW9 9TY, tel: (01-71) 733-7900, fax: 274- 9630,
email:  To view paper see web:  


WWF is recruiting a Head, Trade and Investment Unit.  The head will
provide coordination and leadership for the WWF Trade and Investment
network and directly manage the Trade and Investment Unit, in WWF
International's Conservation Policy Department in Gland, Switzerland.  The
main focus of the work will include: reform of the World Trade
Organization; providing policy analysis and advocacy on multilateral
policies on Foreign Direct Investment; managing fund-raising for trade and
investment activities in WWF; developing campaigning and lobbying for
policies which promote sustainable trade or FDI in environmentally
sensitive economic sectors; providing support on trade and investment
issues to WWF's Global Campaigns and regional programmes.  The post holder
will also represent WWF on public platforms on trade and investment
issues, including press events, international conferences and in
international negotiations.

The candidate will have: a university degree in environmental sciences,
economics or law; minimum seven years experience in environmental policy
issues, including at least three years at an international level; an
ability to write concise and clear policy materials, including both
technical papers and more advocacy-oriented documents; fund-raising and
advocacy skills; management experience.  The candidate must be fluent in
spoken and written English. 
  Interested candidates should send a covering letter and CV to Miriam
Fuhrer, Human Resources Department at WWF International, Avenue du Mont
Blanc, 1196 Gland, Switzerland, fax:(41-22) 364-7850.  The closing date is
Monday, 3 January 2000.

Table of Contents                           

- Seattle Fails To Launch New Round; WTO Ministerial Negotiations
- Ozone Meet Yield Mixed Results
- Regional Trade News
- WTO Accession Update
- ICCAT Agrees To Swordfish Plan
- In Brief
- Events & Resources


After more than four days of unrelenting talks, negotiations between the
WTO's 135 Members broke down in Seattle on the evening of 3 December.
Causes for the stalled Third Ministerial Conference were many. Some
delegates blamed the non-transparent decision-making procedures that shut
out many developing countries from important negotiating sessions; others
pointed to the overloaded and overambitious agenda; still others blamed
the U.S. for failing to provide sufficient leeway in its position on
implementation and other issues and for strong-arming other Members over
tying trade to labour standards, and the EU for avoided any commitment to
agricultural liberalisation fearing stiff political penalties at home.

The reasons for the failure include all these and more (for a play-by-
play account of daily proceedings at the negotiations and civil society
activities at the Ministerial, see ). According to one disgruntled
Caribbean diplomat, "this [Seattle Ministerial] Conference was a meeting
that was convened before its time." This view was echoed by the U.S. Trade
Representative Charlene Barshefsky, who also acted as the Chair for the
four-day meeting: "the issues before us are diverse, complex and often
novel," she stated in her closing speech. "And together with this, we
found that the WTO has outgrown the processes appropriate to an earlier

Ministers have agreed to suspend the work of the Ministerial and assess
ways with which to bridge remaining areas where consensus has not been
reached. Barshefsky also said that Director-General Mike Moore would be
consulting with delegations and attempting to develop an improved process
that addresses concerns of both efficiency and inclusiveness.

A draft Ministerial text did emerge on the fourth and final day of formal
negotiations. The original 30-plus page document was reduced to 19-page
text. Square brackets (indicating areas where Members maintain significant
differences) remained, notably in the preambular language outlining
sustainable development, in extending Trade-Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) protection to additional product
areas, and in the creation of various working groups, including Trade and
Debt, Biotechnology, and Transfer of Technology. The text also contained
an annex on "Possible Decisions at Seattle on Implementation" that was
intended to meet many developing countries' demands that certain aspects
of the Uruguay Round agreements vital to their interests (such as
anti-dumping, subsidies and textiles) must be fully implemented before
further liberalisation can proceed.

One area where Members neared consensus near the end of the Ministerial
was in a draft text on agriculture. Under the WTO's built-in agenda,
Members are mandated to negotiate liberalisation in services and
agriculture beginning in 2000. There is little disagreement on the scope
of services talks, but agriculture remains a contentious issue. By Friday,
3 December, delegates had submitted a draft text outlining the scope of
negotiations on trade in agriculture, having finally arrived at consensual
language that incorporated the concerns of three major groups: the Cairns
group of agriculture-exporting countries and the U.S.; the EU and Japan;
and a majority of developing countries.

Though the agriculture text is not yet agreed to, it does reflect the
diversity of approaches to agricultural liberalisation that exists among
Members, and may well serve as a basis for further discussion on mandated
agricultural talks. Originally a proposal emanating from the Cairns group,
the draft language reflects a push to bring down export subsidies, and
calls for "Substantial reductions of export the direction
of progressive elimination of all forms of export subsidisation." The term
"non-trade concerns" has replaced the EU's and Japan's preferred
"multifunctionality," though the need to protect the environment, food
security, the economic viability and development of rural areas, and food
safety are included, provided these meet the requirements of the
Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and Technical
Barriers to Trade (TBT). A section on developing country concerns also
appears, but only in preambular -- as opposed to substantive -- form.
Also, according to delegates close to the Chairperson of the group
negotiating the text on labour, the issue was also practically resolved.
Consensus is said to have emerged on a text which mandated the WTO to
cooperate closely with ILO at the Secretariat and governmental bodies

Due to the suspension of the Ministerial talks, immediate decisions
expected at Seattle on duty-free treatment for Least Developed Countries,
on review of the Dispute Settlement Understanding, on e- commerce, and on
technical cooperation were left in the air.

ICTSD Internal Files


Nearly 700 delegates attended The Eleventh Meeting of the Parties to the
Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the Fifth
Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of
the Ozone Layer (MOP-11/COP-5) held from 29 November - 3 December in
Beijing, China.

The 1987 Montreal Protocol is the international environmental agreement
designed to protect the stratospheric ozone layer. To achieve this goal,
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 in Eastern
European countries, notably Russia, still exist.

Delegates adopted 34 decisions including, inter alia, the so- called
"Beijing Amendment" that tightens existing phase-out schedules and adds
new controls to the Montreal Protocol and the "Beijing Declaration",
reaffirming Parties' ongoing commitment to combating ozone depletion. The
Beijing Amendment provides for a freeze in the level of production of
hydrobromofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) from 2004
based on 1989 production levels. The Amendment also added
bromochloromethane as a controlled substance under the Montreal Protocol
and calls for the production and consumption of the substance to be phased
out by 2002. The Amendment also calls on Parties to provide statistical
data quantifying the annual usage of the toxic substance methyl bromide (a
pesticide) used for quarantine and pre-shipment (QPS) applications. QPS
applications are currently exempted from the Montreal Protocol.

While most delegates left the meeting optimistic over the progress made,
environmental groups expressed disappointment with the lack of concrete
measures taken at MOP-11/COP-5 to advance controls on ozone depleting
substances (ODS). Pesticide Action Network (PAN) noted that the Protocol
is yet to do enough to control and reduce use of the pesticide methyl
bromide. PAN noted that QPS applications account over 20 percent of methyl
bromide use worldwide, and should not be excluded from the Protocol.
Further, PAN called for a freeze of QPS use of methyl bromide to be
followed by a reduction.

Greenpeace expressed alarm that delegates had yet to agree on an
accelerated ODS phase-out schedule and that the chemical industry
continued to promote the use of HFCs and HCFCs. In response, the Alliance
for Responsible Atmospheric Policy, a chemical industry coalition, noted
that both HFCs and HCFCs are viable solutions to addressing ozone
depletion, and that an acceleration of the phase-out schedule would be

Delegates also approved funds to replenish the Multilateral Fund for the
Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, for the period 2000-2002. The
Fund helps developing countries meet incremental costs associated with the
implementation of the control measures of the Protocol and finances other
associated programs such as technical assistance, information, training
and costs of the Fund Secretariat. Delegates approved a budget of US$477
million for the 2000-2002 period. Developing countries had argued strongly
that an amount less than US$500 million would not be acceptable. The final
budget was a difficult compromise amongst delegates, with the main
arguments centering around whether certain funding should be tied to
concessions on the part of developing countries.

  "Summary of the Eleventh Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol
and Fifth Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention," EARTH
  "Nations gather to strengthen the ozone layer," ENS, 30 November 1999.


The EU and Mexico on 24 November concluded talks toward a bilateral free
trade accord. The agreement covers industrial tariffs, agricultural goods,
and preferential agreements in services, public procurement, investment,
competition rules, intellectual property, and a bilateral
dispute-settlement system. EU exports to Mexico totalled US $11.7 billion
in 1998; Mexican exports to the EU totalled US$3.9 billion for the same
period. Mexico hopes the accord will help decrease its dependence on the
U.S. for its export market. The EU hopes the deal will give the bloc
greater access to the Canadian and U.S. markets.

At the same time, the EU and the Southern Cone Common Market (Mercosur,
comprised of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay) launched trade
talks toward a free trade agreement. The EU and associate Mercosur member
Chile will pursue parallel trade talks. The EU, Mercosur, and Chile hope
to conclude an accord establishing the world's largest free trade zone by
2003. The 24 November talks in Brussels were to focus on non-tariff
barriers to trade.

Officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), meeting
from 25-28 November in Manila, indicated that the regional grouping could
eventually expand to encompass East Asia as a whole. Officials expressed
their hope in expanding ASEAN to include Japan, China, and South Korea to
form a customs union and possibly a common market. The comments were made
as ASEAN finance ministers met to discuss ways for the existing ASEAN to
move toward closer integration. ASEAN last year agreed to move forward
with an ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) by 2003-2008.

Also last week, the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) was expected to agree
on a common external tariff. The GCC includes Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman,
Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The grouping has
tried for many years to agree on a common external tariff, expected to be
set at between five and seven percent for the estimated US$80 billion
worth of imports flowing into the GCC annual. The deal is expected to help
move GCC-EU negotiations towards a trade deal.

  "EU, Mexico reach agreement establishing free-trade pact," WALL STREET
JOURNAL, 25 November 1999;
  "Formal talks begin for EU-Mercosur-Chile free trade zone," AGENCE
FRANCE-PRESSE, 24 November 1999;
  "Wary of rivals, East Asia weighs closer integration," INTERNATIONAL
HERALD TRIBUNE, 26 November 1999;
  "Formal talks begin for EU-Mercosur-Chile free trade zone," AGENCE
FRANCE-PRESSE, 24 November 1999.


Canada and China on 26 November completed bilateral talks toward China's
WTO accession. The agreement requires China to cut tariffs on imports of
Canadian goods, including telecommunications equipment, aircraft, canola
oil, and paper. China will also provide greater liberalisation for banking
and life insurance. China must still conclude agreements with an
additional 26 WTO Members, including the EU, Brazil, India, and
Switzerland. China's chief trade negotiator Long Yongtu said on 1 December
that he expected negotiations with the EU to be concluded later this
month; Long noted that talks with the other remaining WTO Members would
likely be concluded by February 2000.

Taiwan on 22 November warned that it would not accept a Chinese-dictated
title as a condition for Taiwan's WTO accession. Taiwan officials were
responding to press reports that China would insist that Taiwan accede to
the WTO under the title "Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu: China."
(Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu are islands controlled by Taiwan.) Taiwan has
completed WTO accession talks with all 26 WTO Members that requested
talks, with the exception of Hong Kong, which reverted to Chinese control
in 1997. China considers Taiwan a renegade province and has said that
while it welcomes Taiwan's WTO accession, it would not stand for Taiwan's
admission in advance of its own.

The WTO working party on Jordan's WTO accession approved Jordan's
application for membership on 24 November. WTO Members could give final
approval this week at the Third WTO Ministerial. Jordan's parliament would
then have to ratify the agreement, upon which Jordan would become the
136th Member of the WTO.

  "Canada OKs Chinese WTO entry," ASSOCIATED PRESS, 27 November 1999;
  "Taiwan refuses to back down over name row in WTO bid," AGENCE
FRANCE-PRESSE, 22 November 1999;
  "China to welcome Taiwan's entry to WTO," JAPAN ECONOMIC NEWSWIRE, 30
November 1999;
  "EU, China trade officials meet on China WTO Accession," DOW JONES
NEWSWIRES, 1 December 1999; 
  "Jordan gets approval for entry to world trade body," REUTERS, 24
November 1999.


Meeting at the 16th Regular Meeting of the International Commission for
the Conservation of Atlantic (ICCAT) Tunas, the 27 member-governments
agreed to a U.S.-sponsored 10-year program to rebuild North Atlantic
swordfish stocks. Swordfish stocks have been significantly reduced
worldwide. Environmental groups led calls for an international recovery
plan that would restore swordfish within ten years, complemented by a
campaign to enlist restaurants and supermarkets in an agreement not to
sell swordfish until better conservation measures were adopted.

Regarding compliance measures, ICCAT agreed to trade sanctions against
fellow-ICCAT member Equatorial Guinea for non-compliance relating to the
ICCAT conservation program for bluefin tuna. Delegates also adopted a
trade embargo on swordfish from two non-member countries, Honduras and
Belize, for fishing practices that hinder the effectiveness of ICCAT
swordfish conservation measures.

Meanwhile, the WWF and TRAFFIC, a conservation monitoring group, in
November released a report warning that fishing nations continue to catch
undersized swordfish and bluefin tuna, in violation of international law.
The report noted that 83 percent of bluefin tuna catch monitored at
Spanish landing sites were below minimum size limits. France, Italy, Japan
and Morocco were also cited for catch levels of undersized fish.

On 1 November, Tesco, the UK's largest supermarket chain, announced it
will no longer sell Antarctic sea bass (also know as Chilean sea bass)
until better conservation measures are adopted to combat overfishing. The
environmental group Greenpeace has called for a moratorium on all fishing
for Antarctic sea bass until pirate fishing is stopped. Tesco joins two
U.S. grocery chains (Whole Foods and Wild Oats) which also committed not
to sell the fish.

EU fisheries ministers on 22 November agreed to a plan for reducing
fishing fleet to help conserve the dwindling marine fish populations. The
agreement ties EU funds for fleet modernisation to adherence to fleet-size
limits, with a requirement that EU countries exceeding fleet limits reduce
their overall fleet size by 30 percent. Environmental groups criticised
the agreement, arguing that it would do little to restore dwindling fish
stocks, especially as overfishing is aggravated by greater efficiencies
achieved by more modern fishing vessels. The UK voted against the
agreement, arguing that funds should not be used for fleet development
amid dwindling fish populations.

  "Swordfish win, sharks lose at international fishing summit," ENS, 1
December 1999; 
  "European ministers cut deal on fishing fleet capacity," ENS, 23
November 1999;
  "Argentinean fisheries crisis highlights need for WTO action," WWF PRESS
RELEASE, 29 November 1999;
  "Swordfish and bluefin tuna continue to slip through ICCAT net," WWF
PRESS RELEASE, 15 November 1999; .
  "UK's largest supermarket chain joins call for moratorium to save
Antarctic fish and albatross," OCEANS PRESS RELEASE, 1 November 1999.


The Cairns Group of agricultural exporting nations on 30 November agreed
to expand its membership to include Bolivia, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.
The grouping now accounts for one third of world agricultural exports.

  "Expanded Cairns group calls for agricultural reform," NEW ZEALAND

Five out of 10 Canadian provincial governments on 30 November refused to
endorse a provision within a U.S.-Canada boundary waters treaty calling
for a voluntary ban on Canadian bulk fresh water exports to the U.S.
Opponents argued that the provision did not go far enough to protect water
resources, and are calling instead for an outright ban on bulk fresh water
exports. Canadian officials warned that an outright ban would provoke
challenges at the WTO and within the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA). Officials had hoped to gain support for voluntary export
restrictions, which could be judged consistent with WTO rules.

  "Canada uses treaty to keep water exports from WTO," IPS, 25 November
  "Hands off," THE ECONOMIST, 4 December 1999;
  "Canada's efforts to protect water hit turbulence," PLANET ARK, 2
December 1999.

Delegates from 130 countries will meet from 6-10 December in Basel,
Switzerland for the Fifth Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP-
5) to the Basel Convention on Hazardous Wastes. Inter alia, Ministers are
expected to consider: adopting a Protocol for Liability and Compensation
for Damage Resulting from Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and
their Disposal; technical assistance; partnerships with non-governmental
organisations and industry; and various technical issues.

  "Basel Convention: Fifth Conference of the Parties 10th Anniversary
meeting on hazardous waste," UNEP PRESS RELEASE, 2 December 1999.

South Africa is expected to request permission to sell its ivory and hide
stockpiles from Kruger National Park when the Convention on International
Trade In Endangered Species (CITES) convenes in April 2000. South Africa
will likely request to sell about 28 tonnes of ivory worth approximately
US$2.75 million, with revenues directed toward conservation efforts.
Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia earlier this year were granted permission
under CITES to sell a limited amount of ivory (58.8 tonnes combined) to

  "South Africa to sell ivory," SADC NRMP BULLETIN, 15 November 1999.

BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest) is published by the 
International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development 
(ICTSD) with support from the Institute for Agriculture and 
Trade Policy (IATP). This issue has been researched at 
ICTSD by Joe DiMauro and Dara Edmonds; written by Judy 
Brienza (IATP) and edited by Hugo Cameron, The Director is Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz, ICTSD is an independent, not-for-profit 
organisation based at: 13, ch des Anemones, 1219 Geneva, 
Switzerland. Tel: (41- 22) 917- 8492; fax: (41-22) 917- 
8093. Excerpts from BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest) may 
be used in other publications with appropriate citation. 
Comments and suggestions are welcomed and should be 
directed to the Editor or the Director. 

To subscribe to BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest), send an 
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ISSN: 1563-003X