BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 3, Number 6 15 February, 1999
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EVENTS & RESOURCES
For a more complete list of events in coming months, please refer to
ICTSD's web calendar at: http://www.ictsd.org/html/calendar.htm
16-17 February 1999: Council for TRIPs.
For information, contact Peter Ungphakorn, WTO, tel: (41-22) 739-5412.
8 March 1999: Committee on Trade-Related Investment Measures.
For information contact Luis Ople, WTO, tel: (41-22) 739-5374.
10-11 March 1999: Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.
For information contact Peter Ungphakorn, as above.
CHANGE OF DATES
The Brazil/UNCTAD/ITTO SEMINAR ON TRADE-RELATED ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE
MANAGEMENT OF ALL TYPES OF FORESTS (scheduled to be held on 23-25 February
in Geneva) has been postponed. The most likely dates for it are 6-8 April.
Topics planned for the Seminar are: market access, illegal trade and
harmonisation of certification and labelling.
For further information contact David Elliott, UNCTAD, at fax: (41-22)
917- 0247, tel.: (41-22) 907-5760 or e-mail: email@example.com
24-26 February 1999, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico: ILUMEX SEMINAR ON HIGH
EFFICIENCY LIGHTING PILOT PROJECT. Comision Federal de Electricidad, the
main electric public utility of Mexico, is organising an international
seminar to disseminate the results of ILUMEX (High Efficiency Lighting
Pilot Project) with emphasis on commercial aspects, laboratory tests, and
impacts on the electric system and the environment.
For information contact Mr. Francisco Rodriguez, fax: (3) 12443-98,
11-13 March 1999, Ahmedabad, India: WORKSHOP ON CRITERIA AND INDICATORS OF
SUSTAINABILITY OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT: A NATURAL RESOURCE PERSPECTIVE.
Organized in collaboration with UNESCO.
For information contact Prof. Anil K. Gupta, IIM, Ahmedabad 380015,
India, e-mail: Anilg@iimahd.ernet.in web:
20 March 1999, Washington, DC: FOURTH INTERNATIONAL WILDLIFE LAW
CONFERENCE. The annual International Wildlife Law Conference brings
together members of the academic, governmental and non-governmental
communities to address critical issues related to the role of
international legal regimes to protect endangered species of flora and
For information contact the Washington College of Law, American
University, 4801 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC, e-mail:
JIWLP@earthling.net, web: http://www.eelink.net/~asilwildlife/
25-26 March 1999, Leeds, United Kingdom, FIFTH ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH CONFERENCE. The conference provides a
forum for discussion and debate on how to move forward toward a more
For information, contact: ERP Environment, P.O.Box 75, Shipley, West
Yorkshire BD17 6EZ, United Kingdom, tel. (44-1274) 530-408, fax: (44-1274)
The November 1998 issue of PUENTES Entre el Comercio y el Desarrollo
Sostenible, the Latin American version of ICTSD's BRIDGES Between Trade
and Sustainable Development monthly review, is now posted online. It can
be accessed via ICTSD's homepage at http://www.ictsd.org PASSERELLES entre
le commerce et le diveloppement durable--the French- language version of
BRIDGES--will be available online by March 1999.
MANUAL OF EUROPEAN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW. By Alexandre Charles Kiss and Dinah
Shelton, Cambridge University Press, U.K, 1997. This manual provides a
detailed overview of European environmental law. Written for a
multi-disciplinary audience, the book will prove of value to the legal,
business and scientific practitioner or researcher, as well as to all
those interested in environmental law, science and policy.
To order or for information contact Gill Hall at tel: 44 (0)
1223-325-577, fax: 1223-325-151, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE OWNERSHIP OF LIFE: WHEN PATENTS AND VALUES CLASH. By Martin Teitel and
Hope Shand. Produced by Kristin Dawkins (IATP), with Harriet Barlow (HKH
Foundation). This easily-accessible briefing book is part of its
contributors' effort to increase awareness of the issues surrounding
patenting of life forms.
To order or for more information contact The Institute For Agriculture
and Trade Policy (IATP), 2105, First Avenue South, South Minneapolis MN
Table of Contents
- EU, ACP Meet For Lome Talks
- G-15 Calls For Rethinking of Globalisation
- EU Offers Interim Compliance Plan In WTO Beef Case
- European NGOs Strategise on Input to WTO Work
- Dispute Settlement Review Moves Ahead
- U.S. Warns Canada On Magazine Bill
- U.S. Trade Agency Restricts Lamb Imports
- In Brief
- WTO In Brief
EU, ACP MEET FOR LOME TALKS
Negotiations resumed last week for Lome V, the successor trade and aid
agreement to the current Lome IV Convention between the EU and 71 African,
Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations. Negotiators agreed on a declaration
of intent regarding EU-ACP work, but did not agree on the format of the
Lome IV successor arrangement.
The WTO has previously ruled that the favourable trade terms the EU
affords ACP countries under Lome countries are not in line with
international trade rules, but the WTO allowed the current Lome Convention
to operate under a temporary waiver. The EU and ACP will now seek to
reform the Lome accord to be WTO compatible while still affording ACP
countries development opportunities intended by the spirit of Lome.
One reform option proposed by the European Commission calls for a shift to
reciprocal, inter-regional free-trade areas to be phased in over five
years beginning in 2000. ACP nations want at least 10 years to implement
regional free trade areas. Meanwhile, observers within the EU and ACP
countries note that reciprocal free-trade areas could impose heavy
administrative burdens on poor developing economies, and fear that the
poorest economies would not be able to compete effectively within their
own regions (BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest, Vol. 2, No 21, 8 June
EU and ACP negotiators clashed last week over the issue of linking EU aid
to ACP nations with "good governance." The EU argues that it is merely
suggesting mechanisms that facilitate a development model that guarantees
human rights and social progress. ACP leaders do not take issue with the
philosophy of good governance, but are unhappy with EU attempts to impose
European social and political standards as a contingency for Lome
Also last week, a group of ACP non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
called on EU and ACP negotiators to formally include NGOs in the
negotiating process, following the model of other multilateral
organisations. ''The pervasive poverty in Africa can only be remedied when
the civil society is integrated into the development agenda,'' according
to an official with an African NGO. The NGOs said they supported the
position of the ACP states on trade issues and the need to negotiate a
transitional period of at least 10 years for the establishment of regional
"Lome V: l'Union et les ACP engagent les negociations," LES ECHOS, 10
"EU, ACP states clash over trade and aid pact," AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 10
"NGOs Seek Role In ACP-EU Cooperation;" "ACP-EU Talks Fail To Reach
Consensus On Key Proposals," PANAFRICAN NEWS AGENCY, 10 Feb. 1999.
G-15 CALLS FOR RETHINKING OF GLOBALISATION
Leaders from the so-called Group of 15 developing countries (G-15) met
last week in Jamaica for their ninth summit. Among other things -
including talks on the financial crises affecting its members, the G-15
addressed this year's WTO Ministerial Meeting, affirming the need for a
fair, transparent multilateral trading system, and addressing the
difficulties some G-15 members have had with implementing WTO agreements.
India announced it would host a pre-Ministerial meeting to prepare G-15
countries to take a more proactive role in setting the agenda for WTO
work. India's International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz noted
that developed countries have dominated WTO negotiations in the past and
that the G-15 needs a strategic direction to protect developing countries'
interests in WTO talks.
India's Commerce Minister Ramakrishna Hegde asserted that the WTO had yet
to effectively facilitate "a meaningful integration of the less developed
countries," into the world economy. With respect to upcoming WTO talks on
agriculture - scheduled to begin later this year, Mr. Hegde said that
developing countries should be given flexibility to address food security
and employment security for the agrarian poor.
Jamaica's Prime Minister P.J. Patterson told G-15 ministers that, "The
pace and direction of globalisation, which threaten and endanger millions
of vulnerable people, will have to be curbed." Mr. Patterson called on the
WTO to respond to a "resurgence of protectionist measures by developed
countries . . . which threaten the very survival [of many developing
countries." Jamaica holds the rotating-presidency of the G- 15.
The G-15 is comprised of 17 countries: Argentina, Algeria, Brazil, Chile,
Egypt, Jamaica, Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Sri Lanka, India,
Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela.
"G-15 set to zero in on global reform," THE STAR (Canada), 10 Feb. 1999;
"G15 Developing nations go in search of solutions," IPS, 7 Feb. 1999;
"India Trade Min Criticises Role of Developed Nations in WTO," DOW JONES,
7 Feb. 1999;
"G-15 seeks slowdown in drive to globalisation," REUTERS, 11 Feb. 1999.
EU OFFERS INTERIM COMPLIANCE PLAN IN WTO BEEF CASE
The EU last week proposed three options for complying with a 1997 WTO
ruling against an EU ban on hormone treated beef imports (see BRIDGES
Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 3, No 4, 1 February 1999). At the same time,
the EU signalled it would not be able to meet the May 13 WTO deadline for
compliance with the ruling. The EU proposal was however a bid to head off
a potential trade dispute between it and the US that could serve to
undermine the credibility of the WTO dispute settlement process, bruised
as it is by the ongoing dispute over bananas (see BRIDGES Weekly Trade
News Digest Vol. 3, No 1-2, 18 January 1999).
The three options are to 1) Commence immediately to negotiate compensation
with WTO members for not lifting the ban; or 2) reclassify the ban as a
"provisional measure" until the scientific evidence can be gathered to
demonstrate the harm associated with hormone-treated beef; or 3) lift the
ban on hormone treated beef imports with the caveat that hormone treated
beef must be clearly labelled stating that the product has been treated
with hormones. The European Parliament and EU member states are to decide
quickly which option they wish to pursue and then start discussions with
With regard to the "provisional measure" option, the EU said in its
proposal that such an option was allowed under the WTO agreement on
Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS). Article 5.7 of the SPS allows
provisional measures to be adopted when "relevant scientific evidence is
not sufficient" provided such evidence could be provided within a
reasonable (undefined) amount of time. With regard to the labelling
option, U.S. cattle industry sources said last week that while the
proposed labelling was not desired or fair, it could be tolerated as a
mechanism to gain access to the estimated US$100 million market for U.S.
"Beef ruling puts pressure on Brussels," FINANCIAL TIMES, 10 Feb. 1999;
"Delay on beef hormone studies unacceptable to US," REUTERS, 9 Feb. 1999;
"Decision time on banned beef imports," EUROPEAN VOICE, 11-17 Feb. 1999;
"Bruxelles evoque un compromis sur les hormones," LA TRIBUNE, 11 Feb.
"EU acts to avert trade war over beef hormones," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, 11
"EU outlines three options for compliance in WTO hormone dispute," INSIDE
US TRADE, 12 Feb. 1999.
EUROPEAN NGOS STRATEGISE ON INPUT TO WTO WORK
Two major civil society information and co-ordination meetings, attended
by over 50 NGO and civil society groups, were held in Brussels from 5-7
February on issues related to the multilateral trading system. These
meetings were significant as they represent the efforts of a broad group
of European civil society organisations working on trade and sustainable
development issues to co-ordinate amongst themselves and interact with the
multilateral trading system. Similar processes are also underway in North
America, Asia and Africa.
On 5 February participants in a Co-ordination of European NGOs Networking
on Trade (CENNT)/Informal Working Group of Gender and Trade (IWGGT)
meeting exchanged information on a number of topics related to trade
including the forthcoming High Level Symposia on Trade and Environment and
Trade and Development at the WTO; the effective participation of
developing countries in the multilateral trade system; and the terms of
reference and transparency of the European Commission's tender process for
launching an environmental assessment of trade agreements.
On 6-7 February many of the same organisations and others gathered for a
Conference on the Social, Gender and Environmental assessments of the WTO
negotiations hosted by the International Coalition of development Action
(ICDA), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF - International), Oxfam GB and
Greenpeace. The conference included a day of information exchange and
workshops, and a second day aimed at developing a co- ordinated strategy
toward the High Level Symposia and the Third WTO Ministerial Conference. A
range of concerns was addressed with consensus among many participants
that there should be no further trade liberalisation without adequate
assessment of the impact of the Uruguay Round and any future trade
liberalisation. Most organisations supported this approach along with
additional emphases on the need for the WTO to be accountable to existing
international legal norms and standards (such as those on human rights and
labour); mainstreaming issues such as gender, human rights, environment
and labour in the WTO; and improved transparency and opportunities for
input and dialogue in the WTO.
Follow-up meetings and opportunities for co-ordinated action and input
into the trade agenda were identified in the meeting. Among these include
a meeting between European NGOs and WTO Director General Ruggiero on 18
February, and a possible co-ordination meeting of NGOs prior to the High
Level Symposia. Many of those attending the conference planned to keep in
contact with each other and share trade- related information through the
"WTO Impact" listserve. To join this list send an email to email@example.com
During the conference ongoing information exchange groups were also
established on Agriculture and on Textiles. The agriculture group will be
co-ordinated by Sophia Murphy at IATP (firstname.lastname@example.org) with messages
distributed via the Global Forum on Sustainable Food and Nutrition
(email@example.com). The textiles group will be co-ordinated through Aimee
Gonzales at WWF International (firstname.lastname@example.org). Other email
contacts for meeting organisers are: email@example.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com ICTSD encourages readers to
submit notices of important meetings and events for inclusion in this and
other ICTSD publications.
ICTSD Internal Files.
DISPUTE SETTLEMENT REVIEW MOVES AHEAD
The Dispute Settlement Body convened on 11 March in an informal session
dedicated to the review of the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DS
Review), underway since last year. While last week's meeting revealed some
progress in the Review, one of the major issues to have emerged in recent
months - the relationship between Articles 21.5 and 22.6 in the
implementation of WTO dispute settlement decisions - is likely to take
centre stage in the Review.
This issue was brought to light by the controvery between the U.S. and the
EU on the revised EU banana-import regime (See BRIDGES Weekly Trade News
Digest, Vol 3, No 1 & 2, 18 January 1999). The role of the DS Review on
clarification of this issue may depend in part on whether the decisions of
the two panels set up in January to rule on the implementation by the
European Union of the Appellate Body ruling in the banana case bring any
clarification. It is worth noting here that the issue of the relationship
between Articles 21.5 and 22.6 was also discussed at the WTO General
Council meeting underway as BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest goes to
press. The EU asked for an interpretation of the DSU under Article IX.2 of
the Agreement establishing the WTO, but WTO Members were not prepared to
deal with the issue in this context and thus sent it back to the DS Review
On other issues before the DS Review, WTO Members last week completed
their examination of the document containing all the proposals that States
have made for changes or clarifications to the DSU. A possibility of
consensus was reached on three issues: (1) on the need (in the context of
Article 3.6) to notify mutually agreed solutions to matters raised in
consulatations as early as possible; (2) that a request for a panel can
only be submitted after the 60-day period; (3) and on the possibility of
adjusting time-tables to give the State who is being complained against
more time to deposit its submission. Current rules give the complaining
party longer than the party complained against, which is perceived as
Members also agreed to focus, in the DS Review, on the following issues
between now and July: (1) Panel proceedings; (2) Rights of third parties;
(3) Appellate Body procedures; (4) transparency; (5) implementation and
the relationship between articles 21.5 and 22.6 of the DSU; (6) developing
country issues; (7) whether the second request for establishment of a
panel has to be at the meeting consecutive to the first request.
The date of the next meeting of the DSB on the DS Review has not yet been
fixed - it is expected to be set by the new Chair of the DSB, whose
appointment is expected by the end of this month.
ICTSD Internal Files.
U.S. WARNS CANADA ON MAGAZINE BILL
In another instance of lack of clarity regarding implementation of a WTO
Appellate Body decision, the U.S. last week said it would retaliate
against Canada if Canada moves ahead with domestic legislation to protect
its domestic magazine industry. An U.S. State Department official said the
U.S. was prepared to impose retaliatory sanctions against steel, textiles
and other goods if Canada's Bill C-55 is passed by the House of Commons.
Bill C-55 bans Canadian advertising in so- called split run magazines --
foreign magazines which include minimal Canadian content but sell Canadian
advertising at cheaper rates than those afforded to Canadian-only
publications. Canada has called the ban a "cultural matter."
The WTO ruled in July 1997 that Canada's split-run ban violated global
trade rules. C-55 is a Canadian attempt to achieve the same ends as the
previous law, but within its rights under global trade rules.
Meanwhile, Canadian Heritage Minister Sheila Copps last week proposed an
amendment to C-55, which would effectively hold the bill in reserve after
passage, after which the bill could only be implemented by the Canadian
Cabinet. Canadian officials note that the amendment would give Canada time
to present C-55 to the WTO for review as to its compliance with
international trade rules. Canadian officials noted that the amendment
would give both the U.S. and Canada time to negotiate a compromise
solution. Talks between the two sides have thus far yielded no progress.
The U.S. argues that C-55 is mere legal manoeuvring around WTO rules and
does not comply with the spirit of the 1997 WTO ruling against split runs.
U.S. officials warn that implementing C-55 would undermine the WTO dispute
settlement process by effectively rejecting the WTO ruling with a thinly
veiled legal manoeuvre. U.S. officials posture that this is the same tact
the EU is taking in disputes over bananas and beef (see related story,
this issue), putting the WTO in jeopardy.
"US warns Canada of heavy sanctions," REUTERS, 10 Feb. 1999;
"Ottawa to amend magazine bill," GLOBE & MAIL, 10 Feb. 1999;
"US threatens trade sanctions against Canada," WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11
Feb. 1999; "Canada softens stand in magazine row with US," REUTERS, 11
U.S. TRADE AGENCY RESTRICTS LAMB IMPORTS
The International Trade Commission (ITC), an U.S. government agency, last
week ruled that restraints could be placed on lamb meat imports, noting
that New Zealand and Australian lamb imports pose a serious threat to the
well being of U.S. lamb producers. The ITC is to recommend by April 5
tariff and quota measures designed to remedy the situation. The ITC ruling
could open the door to anti-dumping law suits brought under Section 201 of
the U.S. Trade Act of 1974. Unlike other anti-dumping provisions, Section
201 does not require an industry to show that unfair trade practices
exist; rather, an industry needs to show that an import surge has caused
serious damage or posed a substantial threat to that industry.
U.S. lamb producers note that Australian and New Zealand lamb producers
are able to sell their lamb at almost 70 percent below U.S. prices --
forcing the closure of a few U.S. lamb meat packing plants. New Zealand
and Australia are able to produce lamb at lower cost mainly because of the
availability of wide expanses of grassland for raising sheep compared to
the U.S. U.S. sheep growers say they will use any remedy period to better
prepare for foreign competition, including improving production
efficiencies, product quality and cost-effectiveness, as well as
increasing demand for U.S. product.
An Australian Trade official noted that the U.S. cannot on the one hand
call for greater trade liberalisation in almost every area and then on the
other hand hide behind mechanisms such as Section 201. The official noted
that as the largest economy in the world, the U.S. has to accept both the
good and bad aspects of trade liberalisation.
The ITC declined to include Canada and Mexico lamb meat products in its
decision, adhering to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Under NAFTA, Canada and Mexico are exempt from Section 201 action unless
Canada and/or Mexico are among the top five suppliers to the market and
they make an important contribution to serious injury.
"NZ exporters to fight US lamb ruling," FINANCIAL TIMES, 11 Feb. 1999;
"Australia, NZ attack US lamb ruling," REUTERS, 11 Feb. 1999;
"US lamb producers' import protection allowed," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, 11
"ITC unanimously finds threat of injury in section 201 on lamb," INSIDE
US TRADE, 12 Feb. 1999.
The Swedish government last week called on the European Commission to
extend a ban on certain antibiotics used in animal feed - urging an
outright ban on all antibiotic feed additives. The Swedish government
argues that use of some antibiotics used in animal feed could create
resistance to the drugs in humans. Farmers use the antibiotics to promote
growth and to build resistance to disease in pigs and poultry. (See
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 2, No 48, 14 December, 1998.)
"Sweden urges extension of antibiotic feed additives ban," EUROPEAN
VOICE, 11-17 Feb. 1999.
Japan last week signalled its readiness to pursue a so-called "dual-
track" approach to free trade by dropping its long held opposition to
regional free trade agreements. A Japanese trade official noted that 26 of
the world's 30 largest economies were partners in regional agreements. The
same official noted that China had rebuffed informal advances from Japan
on a regional agreement.
"Japan ready to consider free-trade accords," AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 10
Thailand last week announced its formal withdrawal from the International
Rubber Organisation (INRO). Thailand wants better control over the global
price of natural rubber and complained that INRO has played an
insignificant role in bolstering prices which have fallen dramatically in
the last year. The future of INRO is unclear with Thailand's withdrawal:
Thailand is the world's largest producer of rubber.
"Thailand pulls out of rubber agreement," FINANCIAL TIMES, 10 Feb. 1999.
Documents released last week revealed that Russia has sought to engage the
U.S. in the transfer of spent fuel from U.S. nuclear power plants to
Russia for long-term storage and reprocessing. Environmental groups noted
that Russian law forbids the import of foreign radioactive wastes for
reprocessing without the return of reprocessing wastes to the country of
origin. Greenpeace last month also revealed secret Russian efforts to
secure contracts for the illegal dumping of nuclear waste in Russia from
"Russia Offers to Import U.S. Nuclear Waste," ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS SERVICE,
8 Feb. 1999.
Singapore Environmental officials are denying reports that it has reached
an agreement with Indonesia to import 15 million cubic meters of waste
earth from Singapore. Singapore reportedly offered US$2 per tonne for
Indonesia to import the dirt, to be used to rehabilitate coastal
Indonesian woodlands. Environmental groups in both countries are crying
foul over the deal: the groups allege the soil from a Singapore transit
project is toxic, and transfer of the material would be illegal under the
"Singapore, Indonesia talk dirty in waste dispute," IPS, 10 Feb. 1999.
WTO IN BRIEF
Japan and the EU last week announced they had suspended their WTO
complaint against the U.S. regarding the Massachusetts state law
penalising foreign firms that do business with Myanmar. (See BRIDGES
Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 2, No 31, 17 August, 1998.) The panel was
established in October 1998. The EU said it would reserve its right to
re-open the complaint for one year (per WTO rules), pending U.S.-court
action against the state law in which the EU previously filed amicus
brief. EU officials denied its move to drop the Myanmar complaint was a
quid-pro-quo measure to encourage U.S. leniency in the ongoing U.S.-EU
dispute over bananas.
"Focus: EU suspends panel probing U.S. state law," REUTERS, 8 February
"Japan, EU ask WTO to halt Massachusetts' law probe," KYODO NEWS
INTERNATIONAL, 9 February 1999.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel: (41-22) 917 8497; fax: (41-
22) 917 8093. Executive Director: Ricardo Melindez-Ortiz,
address as above, email: email@example.com.
Excerpts from BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest) may be used
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