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BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 3, Number 18 10 May, 1999, also Vol. 3, Number 17



I don't recall posting last week's  Vol. 3, Number 17 - so I've attached
it below.

MichaelP

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EVENTS & RESOURCES

EVENTS 

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

WTO MEETINGS

An updated list of forthcoming WTO meetings is posted at http://
www.wto.org/wto/about/meets.htm. Please bear in mind that dates and times
of WTO meetings are often changed, and that the important informal
meetings of different WTO bodies are not always announced.

19 May: WTO MEETING TO DECIDE ON A NEW DIRECTOR-GENERAL.
 For information contact Nuch Nazeer, WTO, (41-22) 739-5393.

2 June: SUB-COMMITTEE ON LEAST-DEVELOPED COUNTRIES--on creation of a new
sub-group for small economies within LDCs and Developing Countries.
 For information contact Lucie Giraud, WTO, tel: (41-22) 739- 5075.

4 June: COMMITTEE ON TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT--on E-commerce and technical
cooperation, and on CTD input to Ministerial/forthcoming negotiations.
 For information contact Lucie Giraud, WTO, as above.

OTHER EVENTS

17-18 May, Brussels: EU MINISTERIAL MEETING ON AGRICULTURE AND GENERAL
AFFAIRS (including WTO).
 For information contact the European Council of Ministers, tel: (32-2)
299-1111.

25 May, Managua, Nicaragua: SEMINAR: FOOD SAFETY AND EXPORTING ISSUES FOR
THE NEXT MILLENNIUM. Sponsored by the North-South Center, University of
Miami; Center for Agribusiness Policy Studies, Arizona State University;
Unisn de Productores Agropecuarios de Nicaragua; and Caribbean/Latin
American Action. Location: Universidad Americana, Managua, Nicaragua.
 For information contact Jerry Haar, tel: (1-305) 284-8967, e-mail:
jhaar@miami.edu

30-31 May, Dresden, Germany: INFORMAL MEETING OF EU MINISTERS ON
AGRICULTURE (including CAP reform, WTO).
 For information contact the European Council of Ministers, as above.

3-4 June, Cologne, Germany: EUROPEAN COUNCIL OF HEADS OF EU STATES
(including decisions on agriculture, WTO) AND COUNTER-SUMMIT BY NGOs.
 For information contact the European Council of Ministers, as above, or
Myriam Vander Stichele, TNI, Paulus Potterstraat 20, NL-1071 DA Amsterdam,
Netherlands, tel: (31-20) 662-6608, fax: 675-7176, e-mail:
stichele@worldcom.nl

21-22 June, Brussels: GENERAL AFFAIRS COUNCIL OF MINISTERS (potentially
discussing the EU's WTO position).
 For information contact the European Council of Ministers, as above.

18-20 July, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.: WORKSHOP ON MARKET-BASED
INSTRUMENTS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION. This workshop will be hosted by
Harvard University and co-sponsored by the Association of Environmental
and Resource Economists (AERE), the John F. Kennedy School of Government,
and the Harvard University Committee on Environment.
 For information contact Robert N. Stavins, tel: (1-617) 495-1820, fax:
496- 3783, e-mail: robert_stavins@harvard.edu, web:
http://www.ecu.edu/econ/ aere

RESOURCES

Proceedings of the SEMINAR: ^SINTERNATIONAL TRADE, ENVIRONMENT AND
DEVELOPMENT : STAKES AND PERSPECTIVES FOR THE AFRICAN CONTINENT^T 6th -
8th April 1999, Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast.
 Organized by French-based NGO, SOLAGRAL, at Http://www.rio.net/solagral

SUSTAINABLE MEASURES: EVALUATION AND REPORTING OF ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL
PERFORMANCE. May, 1999. This book, edited by Martin Bennett and Peter
James, collects together most of the key work and individuals concerned
with the topic of sustainable development from around the world. Cost: $US
65.00, 416 pp. ISBN 1 874719 16 0.
 To order contact Greenleaf Publishing, Aizlewood Business Centre,
Aizlewood's Mill, Nursery Street, Sheffield S3 8GG, UK, tel: (44-114)
282-3475; fax: 3476, or order online at
http://www.greenleaf-publishing.com
 WORLD TRADE REGULATION MANUAL. By Dr. Kees Jan Kuilwijk. The Manual
offers a full explanation and analysis of the regime of the WTO and how it
may be used to overcome barriers to international trade. Includes
subscription elements such as a monthly newsletter and CD-ROM updates.
Launch price of #264.00 on orders received up to 21 May 1999; standard
price of #334.50 on orders received after 21 May 1999.
 To order contact CCH Editions Ltd., Customer Services Dept., Telford
Road, Bicester, Oxon OX6 0XD, UK. DX: 833750 Bicester 2, tel: (44-1869)
872-336, fax: 874- 700, e-mail: customer.services@cch.co.uk

POLICY ISSUES IN THE FOREST PRODUCTS TRADE BETWEEN VIETNAM, LAO PDR AND
YUNNAN, CHINA. Authored by Dr. Deanna Donovan of the East-West Center and
local collaborators, with support from the World Resources Institute.
 To order contact Mairi Dupar, Resources Policy Support Initiative, WRI,
10 G Streen NE Suite 800, Washington, DC 20002, USA, tel: (1-202)
729-7746, fax: 7759, e-mail: mairid@wri.org



TABLE OF CONTENTS				

- WTO: Voices Speak Out In Favour Of A Re-Balancing New Round And Against
Further Liberalization
- EU Report Fans Flames Under Beef Broil
- Transatlantic Environment Dialogue Launched
- Mercosur Faces Uncertain Future
- SACU Fears Flooding by EU Imports; S. Africa Criticises EU Farm
Subsidies
- GMO Food Labelling At Least A Year Out
- U.S., Canada Call For GMO Trade On WTO Agenda
- Little Progress on Regional Trade Agreements in WTO - An Issue for
Seattle?
- Groups Criticise Commerce Decision on Dolphin-Safe Tuna
- In Brief
- WTO In Brief
- Events & Resources


WTO: VOICES SPEAK OUT IN FAVOUR OF A RE-BALANCING NEW ROUND AND AGAINST
FURTHER LIBERALIZATION

While WTO Members remain enveloped in acrimony over the appointment of a
new Director-General, preparations for the Third Ministerial (scheduled
for 30 November - 3 December Seattle) have been held up. The Informal
Meeting of the Special Session of the General Council due to be held last
week was cancelled, and no new date has yet been fixed. Despite the lack
of formal activity, government officials and NGOs continue to voice their
opinions on what the Ministerial and the proposed Millennium Round of
trade talks should or should not include.

Indian commerce officials have been reported to express opposition to a
new round of trade talks until imbalances in current agreements have been
rectified. N. N. Khanna, a special secretary in India's Ministry of
Commerce, said that Northern countries have ignored the development
dimension in WTO agreements. In related news, Martin Khor, Director of the
Malasya-based non-governmental organization Third World Network, writing
in the BANGKOK POST, warned developing countries that agreements sought
after by Northern countries on competition policy, investment and
government procurement could seriously affect national economic interests
and severely constrain national government's ability to regulate and build
local resources.

Meanwhile, over 500 NGOs of a wide divesity of thematic focus and size and
from worldwide origin have signed a statement proposing content for the
new trade talks to be launched at the Seattle Ministerial. The statement
from members of international civil society opposing a new round of
comprehensive trade negotiations opposes "any further liberalisation
negotiations, especially those which will bring new areas under the WTO
regime" and calls instead for a "comprehensive and in- depth review and
assessment of the existing agreements" in order to change them. According
to these NGOs, such a review should address "the WTO's impact on
marginalised communities, development, democracy, environment, health,
human rights, labour rights and the rights of women and children."

In the U.S., the Sierra Club and National Wildlife Federation issued last
month a White Paper outlining a proposal for granting the Clinton
Administration "fast track" trade negotiating authority while ensuring
that environmental and health goals are not undermined. Fast track
negotiating authority would give the Clinton Administration the ability to
bring negotiated free trade agreements to Congress for a straight yes or
no vote immune from amendment. Fast track is critical to U.S. credibility
at the negotiating table since trade partners are reluctant to negotiate
with the U.S. if hard work can become unravelled in the U.S. Congress.

Among other things, the paper calls for the elimination of subsidies that
distort trade and harm the environment. It also calls for the adoption of
the so-called precautionary principle - a principle used to allow taking
preventive environmental and health measures when scientific evidence is
lacking. This principle - often cited in international environmental
policy - is the same principle European countries have used to justify
bans on genetically modified seeds and feedstuffs, the source of a trade
dispute between the U.S. and EU.

 "Trade: WTO 'Millennium Round' challenged by NGOs," IPS, 28 April 1999;
 "In the path of the juggernaut," BANGKOK POST, 28 April 1999;
 "Deadline draws closer to meet WTO Agenda," ECONOMIC TIMES (India), 30
April 1999;
 "India cautious over fresh WTO talks," AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 29 April
1999;
 "White Paper on Environmentally Responsible Trade Negotiating Authority,
 "National Wildlife Federation/Sierra Club, 26 April 1999;
 "U.S. green groups offer safeguards on trade," FINANCIAL TIMES, 28 April
1999.


EU REPORT FANS FLAMES UNDER BEEF BROIL

The EU last week said "there can no longer be any question" of its lifting
a ban on hormone-treated beef imports after two preliminary studies
identified risks to health caused by hormones. Specifically, an EU
scientific panel found that one hormone (17 beta oestradiol) "exerts both
tumour initiating and tumour promoting effects." In light of this the EU
said it needed to reconsider how it would respond to a WTO ruling against
its ban on hormone-treated beef.

The WTO Appellate Body in January 1998 ruled that the EU ban on beef
treated with growth hormones was not based on adequate scientific evidence
and so violates international trade rules. The U.S. and Canada brought the
complaint to the WTO, estimating that U.S. and Canadian farmers lose a
combined US$250 million a year from lost trade due to the ban. The EU was
given 15 months (i.e. until 13 May) to either lift its import ban or
provide scientific justification for it. (See BRIDGES Weekly Trade News
Digest Vol. 3, No 6, 15 February 1999.)

The U.S. criticised the new EU report on hormones as a stalling tactic and
misleading. "In its 1999 meeting, the Joint Expert Committee on Food
Additives (JECFA) of the World Health Organisation and Food and
Agriculture Organisation reconfirmed the safety of certain growth hormones
when administered to cattle in accordance with good veterinary practices..
. . Scientific consensus has already answered the debate over public
health and safety. The issue is the EU's refusal to comply with the WTO
rulings and its unwillingness to honour its international obligations,"
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman and U.S. Trade Representative
Charlene Barshefsky said in a joint statement.

EU officials disagreed. "The scientific evidence is of enormous importance
to European consumers as it demonstrates that the Commission was right to
strenuously defend the ban on hormones," Acting EU Consumer Policy
Commissioner Emma Bonino said in a May 4 statement. "We now have a
scientific basis to defend our position."

The U.S. and Canada will now press ahead with trying to secure retaliatory
sanctions against the EU to compensate for lost trade. U.S. trade
officials said a revised list of US$900 million worth of EU goods would be
ready for early June. Canada published a list of CDN$50 million of EU
goods against which it would impose sanctions. Sources said that the EU
hormone report could complicate WTO approval for retaliatory sanctions.
Prior to the release of the EU report, it had been generally expected that
the EU would not comply with the WTO 13 May deadline - or rather make no
real attempt to comply, which would have made it easy for the U.S. and
Canada to win approval for sanctions. Last week's report however could be
viewed as an attempt at compliance with the WTO mandate - as the EU reads
it, to provide scientific justification for the ban. No talks are
currently scheduled between the EU and Canada or the U.S. to try and
resolve the dispute.

 "Washington recuse le danger des hormones de croissance dans l'elevage,"
LE MONDE, 6 May 1999;
 "Embargo europien et tractations a l'OMC," AGRA PRESSE HEGBO, 7 May 1999;
 "Boeuf aux hormones," LE FIGARO, 4 May 1999;
 "Les dangers du boeuf europien, LIBIRATION, 4 May 1999;
 "Executive summary of committee report on hormone risks," EU PRESS
RELEASE, 30 April 1999;
 "Hormones first Commission debate," EU PRESS RELEASE, 4 May 1999;
 "U.S. sees little chance of settling dispute with EU over beef imports as
talks collapse," INTERNATIONAL TRADE REPORTER, 5 May 1999;
 "EU Commission closes door on lifting ban on hormone-treated beef,"
INSIDE US TRADE, 7 May 1999.
 "Joint Statement by Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman and United
States Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky on the EU Hormone Report,"
3 May 1999;
 "Canada set to hit EU with import ban," GLOBE & MAIL, 5 May 1999.


TRANSATLANTIC ENVIRONMENT DIALOGUE LAUNCHED

Environmental NGOs from the EU and the U.S. have teamed up to present a
united front when campaigning on global issues such as climate change,
biotechnology, standardisation and biodiversity. The "Transatlantic
Environment Dialogue" (TEAD) was launched in Brussels on 3 May, by the
Brussels-based European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and the Washington
DC-based National Wildlife Federation, in an effort to formalise and
strengthen dialogue between environmental non-governmental organisations
in the EU and the U.S., and to increase NGO access to high-level policy
makers.

The impetus and initiative for the TAED stems from the New Transatlantic
Agenda, signed by the EU and the U.S. government in 1995 to further co-
operation and integration between the EU and the U.S. The TAED calls for
the Transatlantic Economic Partnership (see BRIDGES Weekly Trade News
Digest Vol. 2, No 36, 21 September 1998 and Vol. 2, No 49, 21 December,
1998) to take more notice of environmental issues and put sustainable
development at the centre of its agenda.

The TAED will be invited to make formal policy recommendations during
biannual EU/U.S. summits, the next of which will be held in Cologne,
Germany in June.

The project receives funding and backing from the US government (USIA and
USTR) and the European Commission. John Hontelez of the EEB stressed that
it would be an independent force to monitor and lobby bilateral and
international policy making.

 "Transatlantic Green NGO Alliance Formed," ENS, 4 May, 1999; ICTSD
Internal Files.


MERCOSUR FACES UNCERTAIN FUTURE

Could economic and political volatility relegate the Southern Cone Common
Market (Mercosur) to an also-ran trading bloc? Comprised of Brazil,
Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, Mercosur had for the last few years been
emerging as the fourth largest world economic force after NAFTA, the EU
and Japan - flexing its muscles at the U.S. as the hemisphere continues
its negotiations to establish a hemispheric-wide Free Trade Area of the
Americas (FTAA) by 2005. Indeed, Mercosur's success bore fruit for the
entire region, attracting greater investment in the region as a whole.
That was before Brazil, Latin America's largest economy, devalued its
currency in January threatening the balance of trade between Mercosur
members and most especially between Argentina and Brazil. Intra-Mercosur
trade is expected to fall this year by almost 20 percent marking the
second consecutive year of decline after momentous growth from US$4
billion in 1990 to about US$18 billion in 1997.

Talks on broader Mercosur integration and common external tariffs have
been frustrated. Brazil to the chagrin of its Mercosur partners struck out
on its own last month to try and strike a free trade deal with the
neighboring Andean pact of countries after Mercosur-Andean talks proved
fruitless after two years. Observers warn that Mercosur must - despite
member's economic woes and political uncertainty, continue to press
forward with a deepening of Mercosur ties towards its ambitious goal of a
customs union to keep foreign investors and perspective trade partners
interested. Mercosur leaders say that with the worst of the economic
crisis behind them they are ready to put more emphasis on a stronger
Mercosur.

Meanwhile, Mercosur and the EU have shown political and trade interest to
get closer. An EU-Mercosur Summit is scheduled for June 99, during which
the two blocs are expected to announce their intention to create a free
trade zone by 2001. The EU is already responsible for 43 per cent of
foreign direct investment in Mercosur and a bilateral trade of US$ 55
billion in 1998. From 1990 to 1996, Mercosur's imports from Europe surged
by 274 per cent, while exports grew by only 25 per cent. This free trade
zone is expected to close this gap and open up opportunities for small and
middle-size firms from Mercosur. A major obstacle, however, are the
alleged US$160 billion in subsidies to the EU agricultural sector, coupled
with sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements which block access to EU
markets.


Mercosur has demanded that any agreement with the EU must include
significant EU concessions on agriculture.

It is clear that both blocs have to gain with this approximation. On the
one hand, the EU sees Mercosur as the embryo for a South American Common
Market, which would grow out of the Mercosur Customs Union. On the other
hand, Mercosur needs to negotiate from a position of strength for a
demanding roster of upcoming free trade talks at the multilateral and
hemispheric levels.

Some observers claim that the prospects of FTAA coming to fruition are
slowly becoming uncertain. First, until the Clinton Administration gets
so-called fast track negotiating authority (see related story in this
issue) the FTAA process is not likely to gain momentum. Second, FTAA
negotiations risk being swept-up or sidelined by a potential new round of
global trade talks. Later this year, smaller, poorer countries in the
Americas may need to choose between the regional FTAA talks and a proposed
WTO Millennium Round of comprehensive trade talks. "We simply cannot
afford the human and financial resources, particularly small countries, to
duplicate negotiating services [for the FTAA] and the WTO," said a
Jamaican trade official.

Whatever the arena, observers note that Mercosur must be fit and ready to
compete.

 "Acordo comercial entre a Uniao Europeia e o Mercosul," O Globo, 10
April,1999 ."Mercosurs malaise," THE ECONOMIST, 24 April 1999;
 "EU: Rio Summit," OXFORD ANALYTICA, 8 March 1999;
 "Do WTO talks threaten gains to build FTAA," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, 3 May
1999;
 "Crisis en el MERCOSUR;" "Brasil negocia unilateralmente con la Comunidad
Andina;" "El Mercosur se resquebraja," BOLETIN SICA-AL (No. 62), 30 April
1999;


SACU FEARS FLOODING BY EU IMPORTS; S. AFRICA CRITICISES EU FARM SUBSIDIES

A study released last month by the SA Foundation, a lobbying group
representing South Africa's 50 largest businesses, estimated that the
member-countries of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) stand to
lose as much as US$420 million annually due to lost customs revenues and
an influx of cheap imports as a result of the free trade agreement signed
earlier this year between S. Africa and the EU. (See BRIDGES Weekly Trade
News Digest Vol. 3, No. 12, 29 March 1999.) The S. Africa-EU agreement
extends market access for EU goods to SACU member-countries- Botswana,
Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland in addition to South Africa.

SACU producers must now compete with cheap, subsidised agricultural
products which could seriously threaten small (and unsubsidised) farmers
in S. Africa and SACU countries. There is also concern over the ability of
SACU industrial sectors to withstand the impact from increased imports of
EU manufactured goods. S. African trade and industry minister Alec Erwin
said any potential negative effects of the S. Africa-EU trade deal could
be remedied by a clause within the deal specifying that "special attention
will be given to providing support for the adjustment effort occasioned"
within SACU countries. SACU member-countries warned they would seek
compensation should the SA Foundation forecast hold true.

Meanwhile, South Africa last week said it would campaign vigorously
against protectionist EU agricultural policies when WTO talks on
agriculture get underway later this year. S. Africa had already, as part
of the Cairns Group of agricultural exporting countries, expressed
displeasure with the EU's revised Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which
Cairns Group countries argued did not go far enough to cut subsidies to
the farm sector. "We want to get rid of internal supports, specifically
export subsidies, out of the trade system [to achieve] fair competition on
an international basis. But we can't have that as long as specifically
first world countries are supporting their agriculture sectors to a higher
degree," according to Ben Van Wyck, chief director of trade with S.
Africa's department of agriculture. Mr. Van Wyck noted that S. Africa had
phased out all export subsidies on farm products and is willing to bring
farm import tariffs lower as part of the WTO talks.

 "Interview: S. Africa farm min. attacks EU protectionism," DOW JONES, 5
May 1999;
 "SACU braces itself for flood of EU imports," AFRICA ANALYSIS, 30 April
1999.


GMO FOOD LABELLING AT LEAST A YEAR OUT

Divisions over GMOs were again emphasised last month when the Codex Food
Labelling Committee, part of the UN Codex Alimentarius Commission that
sets global food standards last month failed to reach agreement on
labelling rules for food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The 53 countries attending the 27-30 April meeting in Ottawa could only
agree to create a new working group to develop a proposal for
consideration at the committee's next annual meeting in the spring of
2000. Last months talks faltered amid disagreement between the EU and the
U.S. over a draft proposal for mandatory labelling of all processed food
products containing GMOs. This marks the second year in a row that the
Codex Food Labelling Comimittee failed to an reach agreement and puts a
global GMO labelling agreement out by at least a year.

Codex was established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the
World Health Organisation in 1962 to recommend minimum standards on food
safety that all countries should follow. WTO Members cite Codex standards
in food-related agreements such as the Agreement on Sanitary and
Phytosanitary Measures. While Codex rules are usually ignored in the
mainstream press, the Codex Food Labelling Committee has received a good
deal of attention because labelling figures prominently in on-going trade
disputes between the EU and U.S., in particular on the EU ban on hormone
treated beef imports and over EU restrictions on GMO maize and soyabean
imports.

The EU favours mandatory labelling of processed foodstuffs containing
GMOs. EU consumers favour GMO labelling as tool for making an informed
choice about food purchases with respect to food safety and purity
preferences. U.S. officials argue that the EU approach is impractical and
moreover unwarranted - saying that GMO products are substantially the same
as non-GMO products with respect to nutritional value and contain neither
toxic nor allergenic elements.

Meanwhile, those in favour of GMO-labelling say the consumers want the
right to make an informed choice about the food they eat. "People in
different parts of the world voice concerns about this on environmental,
religious and ethical grounds, so labels have to be provided that allow
people to make appropriate choices,'' a spokesman for Consumers
International, which represents 246 consumer organisations from 110
countries, warned representatives to the Codex Commission in Ottawa.

 "EU-U.S. dispute delays Codex labelling rule for a year, could spark new
trade battles," INTERNATIONAL TRADE REPORTER, 5 May 1999;
 "De nouvelles regles pour le commerce," AGRA Presse Hebdo, 3 May 1999;
 "Sticky labels," THE ECONOMIST, 1 May 1999;
 "Giant food companies control standards: Critics," TORONTO STAR, 28 April
1999;
 "UN agency meets to decide on rules for labelling produce," THE OTTTAWA
CITIZEN, 28 April 1999.


U.S., CANADA CALL FOR GMO TRADE ON WTO AGENDA

The U.S. and Canada last month announced they would push to include trade
of biotechnology products on the WTO agenda for the proposed new round of
global trade talks. Officials from the two countries said the issue must
be addressed because U.S. and Canadian biotechnology products face
increasing barriers in markets such as the EU, where the approval process
for imports containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can take up
to two years. "What you have is a non-transparent, non-science based,
highly politicised approval process [for biotechnology products],"
according to a U.S. agriculture official. "This leads us to begin thinking
about whether we want to negotiate some new sort of disciplines within the
WTO for approval procedures and labelling," he said. Observers have
suggested that a new stand-alone agreement on biotechnology could be
appropriate rather than revising existing relevant agreements including
the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, the Agreement
on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), and possibly the Agreement on Import
Licensing Procedures.

Meanwhile, a leading U.S. consumer rights group said the EU could
successfully resist U.S. and Canadian pressure to open its market up to
GMOs under current WTO rules. "There are numerous recommendations from
bodies like the World Health Organisation, which would stand up in any WTO
challenge. If you couch your rules in terms of basic consumer rights,
they're unchallengeable," according to Jean Halloran with the Consumers
Union.

 "U.S., Canada to press for rules on biotech in new trade round," INSIDE
US TRADE, 7 May 1999;
 "US group welcomes EU control on gene food," REUTERS, 23 April 1999;
 "Les Americains passent a l'offensive pour faire la promotion des OGM en
Europe" LA TRIBUNE, 5 May 1999.


LITTLE PROGRESS ON REGIONAL TRADE AGREEMENTS IN WTO - AN ISSUE FOR
SEATTLE?


The WTO's Committee on Regional Trade Agreements (CRTA) met on 29-30
April, and 3 May. A number of regional trade agreements were discussed,
with no decision being taken. Matters are somewhat blocked in the CRTA at
the moment with Hong Kong, Japan and Korea calling for a study of negative
impacts of regional trade agreements. The three countries, not members of
any regional trade agreements, are preventing the CRTA from granting its
approval to a number of regional trade agreements - including the
accession of Bulgaria to the Central European Free Trade Agreement,
agreements between the EC and Slovenia, between the EC and Andorra, and
bilateral agreements between Turkey and Romania, Hungary and Lithuania -
until the systemic issues have been addressed.

Hong Kong, Japan and Korea would like the question of whether regional
trade agreements are compatible with WTO, and whether Article 24 of GATT
and Article 5 of GATS, addressed in the next round of multilateral trade
negotiations. (See also BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest, Vol. 3, No 5, 8
February, 1999).

The WTO General Council established the CRTA in February 1996, to
centralise in a single body the effort of the various working parties
devoted to examining individual RTAs, and to provide a forum to discuss
the systemic implications of RTAs for the multilateral trading system and
the relationship between them.

WTO Website; ICTSD Internal Files.


GROUPS CRITICISE COMMERCE DECISION ON DOLPHIN-SAFE TUNA

A group of U.S. environmental, consumer and animal rights organizations
have sharply criticised the U.S. Commerce Department for "gutting" a law
designed to protect the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) dolphin population.
The Commerce Department late last month issued new regulations regarding
the labelling of canned tuna product as "dolphin safe," which would allow
the use of the label unless observers stationed on fishing vessels
personally discovered dead or seriously injured dolphins and reported the
information.

The Commerce Department issued its ruling after an 18-month study on
whether encircling tuna with purse seine nets has a negative effect on
dolphin stocks. U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley said the study had
not shown that the encirclement process has a significant impact on
dolphin survival. The study was commissioned in 1997 as part of a
compromise agreement in the U.S. Senate (Marine Mammal Protection Act)
which would, pending results of the encirclement study, permit the
importation of previously embargoed yellowfin tuna for countries in
compliance with the so-called Panama Declaration. Belize, Colombia, Costa
Rica, Ecuador, France, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Spain, Venezuela and the
U.S. signed the declaration in 1995 agreeing to keep their annual dolphin
kill resulting from purse seine fishery for yellowfin tuna below 5,000.
Under the agreement the definition of dolphin safe would be changed from
non-encirclement to a more liberal definition pending the results of the
study. At the time, several environmental groups criticised the Act as a
trade agreement under the guise of environmental policy.

The 85-member Dolphin Safe/Fair Trade Campaign - comprised of
environmental, consumer and animal rights groups, lashed out against the
Commerce Department decision, saying it runs "contrary to all available
scientific information." "Scientists, U.S. tuna companies, and the public
know that chasing and netting dolphins is not safe for dolphins," stated
David Phillips, Director of Earth Island Institute's International Marine
Mammal Project. "Today's decision is consumer fraud and a death warrant
for thousands of dolphins," Mr. Phillips said. Environmental groups are
expected to file a federal lawsuit against the decision.

"The decision by the Secretary is an outrageous attack on environmental
protection laws in order to allow Mexico and other dolphin-killing nations
access to the lucrative U.S. tuna market. Once again, trade trumps
science," Patricia Forkan, Executive Vice President of the Humane Society
(U.S.) said. Meanwhile, U.S. canned tuna processors, who collectively
comprise approximately 90% of the U.S. canned tuna market, said they
intend to retain their non-encirclement policy regardless of the Commerce
Department findings. U.S. tuna producers said changing the definition of
dolphin-safe to a "no-mortality" definition would cause confusion and
concern among U.S. consumers who understand the non- encirclement
definition of dolphin-safe.

 "Dolphin Safe Tuna Label Gutted by U.S. Commerce Secretary," DOLPHIN-
SAFE/FAIR TRADE COALITION PRESS RELEASE, 29 April 1999;
 U.S. Tuna Foundation letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary, 18 February 1999;
 "U.S. under fire on dolphin deaths," FINANCIAL TIMES, 1-2 May 1999.


IN BRIEF

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) last week admitted
Cambodia to its organisation, bringing to fruition the ASEAN goal of "One
Southeast Asia under ASEAN by the year 2000." With Cambodia's entry, ASEAN
has a total population of about 500 million, a combined gross national
product of US$685 billion and intra-regional trade around US$70 billion.
ASEAN comprises Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar,
Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

 "ASEAN admits Cambodia," ASEAN PRESS RELEASE, 30 April 1999.

A new European Commission is unlikely to be in place until September,
leaving a five-month hiatus in EU policy-making after the mass resignation
of EC ministers in March. The timing would give a new EU trade
commissioner just weeks to prepare for the Third WTO Ministerial in
November, and the launch of a proposed new round of global trade talks.
The timing could also delay EU compliance with the WTO ruling on its
banana import regime.

 "EU policy-making faces delay," FINANCIAL TIMES, 3 May 1999.

The EU last week approved a ban on imports of white asbestos (chrysotile),
used in ceiling tiles, brake linings and cement. Deaths from
asbestos-related illnesses are expected too rise from 5,000 annual to
10,000 by 2020. Russia and Canada are the main producers of white
asbestos. A French ban on white asbestos was the source of a WTO complaint
last year by Canada (see BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 2, No. 20,
1 June 1998).

 "EU to ban white asbestos due to health concerns," REUTERS, 7 May 1999.

The American Electronics Association (AEA) has expressed opposition to
proposed EU legislation requiring electronics manufacturers to take back
discarded consumer electronic products for recycling and reuse. The EU
legislation is aimed at phasing out the use of six hazardous, persistent
biaccumulative toxic materials found in common electronic products such as
VCRs and computers. In a brief submitted to the U.S. Trade Representative
the AEA said the proposed legislation violates global trade rules. "US
Trade Representative opposes European efforts to phase out hazardous
materials in electron products," BUSINESS WIRE, 3 May 1999.

In a presentation to Canada's Standing Committee on International Trade,
last month in Vancouver, Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of
British Columbia Indian Chiefs, said that any initiatives that are
designed to exploit or further commercialise Indian lands and resources
require Indians' full and informed consent, both under international law
and under domestic Canadian law. Until Canada obtains this consent,
Phillip says, Canada is not in a position to enter into any international
trade agreements concerning unceded Aboriginal Title territories and
resources within British Columbia.

 "Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs presentation to the Standing Committee on
International Trade," 26 April 1999.

Canadian and Mexican aboriginal groups signed the first set of trade and
investment agreements on construction and agriculture in Mexico City last
week. The groups, which expect to focus also on the coffee sector,
personal computer assembling, environmental management and community
health and education consulting services, have launched a campaign to
strengthen commercial ties between indigenous communities under the North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These initial dozen Canadian
aboriginal owned companies and their Mexican counterparts, are looking to
benefirt from a NAFTA clause promoting indigenous people's development, a
policy further bolstered by a separate bilateral agreement between Mexico
and Canada.


FINANCIAL TIMES, 7 May 1999.


WTO IN BRIEF

The EU countries met last week under the German presidency of Council in
Berlin to discuss the EC's general negotiating guidelines for the
Ministerial in Seattle and the so-called Millenium Round. On the topic of
trade and environment and trade and development issues, the meeting
confirmed the statements made by Sir Leon during the WTO's high level
symposia last March in Geneva. A full account of the meeting will be
carried by this Digest in its next number.

ICTSD Internal Files.

The EU and U.S. last week called for Albania's quick accession to the WTO.
EU and U.S. trade officials said Albania has recently made significant
progress in its bid to join the WTO despite difficult regional
circumstances. Both Members called for a swift completion to Albania's WTO
bid now in its seventh year.

 "US, EU support Albanian WTO bid," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, 3 May 1999.

Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Central Union of
Agricultural Co-operatives last week announced they had reached agreement
on Japan's negotiating-position for WTO talks on agriculture. The parties
agreed to protect food security through domestic food production and land
integrity and to maintain the current rice tariffication scheme.

 "Agreement reached on agricultural stance," THE NIKKEI WEEKLY, 4 May
1999.

A study conducted by Rowe & Maw, a London-based law firm utilising WTO
statistics, found that developing countries are increasingly launching
anti-dumping measures to curb imports. The study found that South Africa
initiated more antic-dumping cases last year than any WTO member did,
initiating 41 out of 225 cases launched. The U.S. opened 34.

 "Poorer nations starting more dumping cases," FINANCIAL TIMES, 6 May
1999.



----------------------------------------------

 BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Diges   Vol. 3, Number 17  3 May, 1999


Events & Resources  EVENTS

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

WTO Meetings

An updated list of forthcoming WTO meetings is posted at
http://www.wto.org/wto/about/meets.htm. Please bear in mind that dates and
times of WTO meetings are often changed, and that the important informal
meetings of different WTO bodies are not always announced.

6 May: DISPUTE SETTLEMENT BODY.
 For information contact Nuch Nazeer, WTO, tel: (41-22) 739-5393.

 For information contact Nuch Nazeer, as above.

20-21 May: SPECIAL GENERAL COUNCIL MEETING, on the 3rd Ministerial
Conference.
 For information contact Nuch Nazeer, as above.

Other Events

9-10 May, Berlin: EU TRADE MINISTER'S MEETING. On the agenda: the proposed
WTO Millennium Round.
 For information on NGO activities around this event, contact Olivier
Hoedeman at paxaran@antenna.nl

10-11 May, Brussels: THE COMMON AGRICULTURAL POLICY (CAP): FINDING COMMON
GROUND - PUTTING HEALTH, SOCIAL JUSTICE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AT THE
CORE OF A FOOD POLICY FOR EUROPE.
 For information contact Jeanette Longfield, e-mail:
nationalfoodalliance@compuserve.com

26 May, London: CONFERENCE: FROM GLOBAL TO LOCAL: EXPLORING THE
ALTERNATIVES TO GLOBALISATION. Organised by the Ecologist Magazine in
association with the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC).
 For information contact Ms. Renske van Staveren, International Forum on
Food & Agriculture (IFA), c/o Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
(IATP), 2105 First Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN, USA 55404-2505, tel:
(1-612) 870-3423, fax: 4846, rvanstaveren@iatp.org, web:
http://www.iffah.org

Postponed meeting: UNCTAD/ICDA/CENNT NGO BRIEFING FOR UNCTAD X has been
postponed to 10 June.
 For information contact Hisako Nomura, ICDA, Rue Stivin 115, B-1000,
Brussels, tel: (32-2) 230-0430, fax: 230-5237, e- mail: icda@skynet.be,
web: http://www.icda.be

14-15 June, London, UK: IMPLEMENTING THE KYOTO PROTOCOL. Hosted by the
Royal Institute of International Affairs. The issues to be covered will
include both governmental and industrial implementation initiatives,
impacts on international trade and the GATT, and the issues concerning
developing countries, the clean development mechanism and technology
transfer. Registration fee: #934.13.
 For information contact Georgina Wright, RIIA Conference Unit, Chatham
House, 10 St. James's Square, London SW1Y 4LE, UK, tel: (44-171)
957-5700/957-5754, fax: 321- 2045/957- 5710, e-mail: gwright@riia.org

18 June, BRUSSELS: 4TH ANNUAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION IN THE WTO CONFERENCE.
Speakers include Deputy USTR Rita Hayes and former Chairman of the General
Council of the WTO John Weekes.
 For information contact Nick May, Cameron May Ltd., 69-71 Bondway, London
SW8 1SQ, UK, tel: (44-0) 171-582-7567, fax: 793-8353, e-mail:
conferences@cameronmay.com, web: http://www.cameronmay.com

5-8 July, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa: AFRICAN INTERNATIONAL
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION SYMPOSIUM.
 For information contact the Conference Secretariat, fax: (27-331) 420246,
e-mail: soil&pol@sprs.co.za, web: http://www.sprs.co.za/

RESOURCES

AVAILABLE ON THE WTO WEBSITE: Summary of Symposium on Trade and
Environment, at http://www.wto.org/wto/hlms/sumhlenv.htm; and Trade and
Development, at http://www.wto.org/wto/hlms/sumhldev.htm; by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development.

LABOUR REPORTS OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF FREE TRADE UNIONS
(ICFTU). These can be viewed at
http://www.icftu.org/english/sclause/escllstwtocs.html

DARK VICTORY: THE UNITED STATES AND GLOBAL POVERTY, SECOND EDITION, 1999.
By Walden Bello. Looks at impacts of the North's strategy to dominate the
international economy and reassert corporate control. Discusses
consequences of removal of barriers to foreign investments, privatization
of state-owned activities, reduction in social welfare spending, wage cuts
and devaluation in local currencies. 162 pp. US$14.95.
 For information contact The Institute for Food and Development Policy,
398 60th St., Oakland, CA 94618, USA, tel: (1- 510) 654-4400, fax: 4551;
e-mail: foodfirst@igc.org, web: www.foodfirst.org

THE PARADOX OF PLENTY, 1999. Douglas H. Boucher (ed.). Examines new
paradigms of food security, shifting focus from ability to produce enough
food to issues of access to resources,equity and consumption. Looks at
impact of global economy on global food systems. Examines cases from
developing countries and examples of alternative food systems. 342 pp.
US$18.95.
 For information contact The Institute for Food and Development Policy, as
above.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Further Liberalization in Agriculture will be Pushed by Developing
Countries; Other Ag Trade Issues

WTO's D-G Selection: Council Engages in Bad Governance Pratices; Ad
Interim D-G Appointed

Seattle, the WTO Ministerial and NGOs

Bananas: EU Will Not Appeal WTO Ruling

CSD Meets To Discuss Marine Issues

NAFTA Ministers: Canada Proposes To Narrow Investor-State Provison

Accession Update: China, EU Meet; China Builds Mission to WTO

In Brief

WTO In Brief

EVENTS & RESOURCES



Further Liberalization in Agriculture will be Pushed by Developing
Countries; Other Ag Trade Issues  UNCTAD Secretary-General Rubens Ricupero
urged developing countries to quickly forge a positive negotiating agenda
for upcoming WTO talks on agriculture (scheduled to begin later this year.
The call came at a UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) hosted
experts meeting on agricultural trade issues attended by representatives
from more than 80 countries on 26-28 April in Geneva. Mr. Ricupero noted
that agriculture is of vital importance to developing countries: while
agriculture accounts for only 11 percent of world trade in merchandise,
agriculture in low-income countries accounts for an average 30 percent of
gross domestic product and over 70 percent of employment.

John Cuddy, head of UNCTAD's trade division, urged developing countries to
focus on ways to further reduce agricultural tariffs, noting that
developing countries' major export products such as sugar, tobacco,
cotton, and processed foods are frequently hit with some of the highest
tariff peaks in developed countries. Mr. Cuddy said also that developing
countries may want to press for greater flexibility and special terms
under a new WTO agreement on agriculture, taking into consideration the
large percentage of people in developing countries dependent on the
agriculture sector for a living and the large share of total household
income spent on food. Mr. Cuddy also urged developing countries to press
for the elimination of agricultural export subsidies.

Towards this, the Cairns Group of agricultural exporting countries -
comprised of developing and developed countries last month made a clear
statement of opposition toward the EU's recent reform of its Common
Agricultural Policy (CAP). The Cairns Group said the EU had not gone
nearly far enough to reduce agricultural subsidies for its producers. The
Cairns Group intends to use the WTO talks on agriculture as a forum to
push for further reform. The Group accuses the EU of hypocrisy as the EU
continues to push for liberalisation in other areas (e.g. capital,
technology and industrial goods) while protecting a sector vital to Cairns
Group interests. In related news, Canada last month added its voice to the
chorus of WTO Members calling for the end of agricultural subsidies in the
next round of agricultural talks.

Meanwhile, in Argentina last month hundreds of thousands of farmers called
a three-day strike to demand measures be taken to ease the burden of
collapsed commodity prices. Farmers complained that the collapse in
commodity prices is also aggravated by agricultural subsidies provided to
competing farmers in the EU and U.S., while Argentine farmers have no
subsidies and virtually no profit margin. Elsewhere in Latin America,
smaller farmers are hoping to bolster commodities by establishing a single
commodities exchange. The Association of Exchanges of Products of Central
America and the Caribbean will link farmers in Central America, Colombia,
the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, who together hope the unification of
exchanges will increase information on prices, and shorten the chain of
intermediaries between producer and consumer. ''Our aim is to keep
globalisation from leading to the disappearance of small farmers,'' said
Alfonso Campos, general co-ordinator of the programme of interconnection
of regional exchanges.

At the same time, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) last month issued a distressing forecast for
agricultural producers, saying prices will continue to be depressed
through 2004. The OECD also warned against the use of export subsidies as
a way out of trouble. "There is a danger of increased use of export
assistance programs by the main exporting countries and this can further
depress world prices and distort trade," the OECD report said.

 "Developing nations urged to focus on reducing farm tariffs, subsidies,"
INTERNATIONAL TRADE REPORTER, 28 April 1999;
 "Farm nations hit out at EU agriculture reforms," REUTERS, 19 April 1999;
 "Thailand slams subsidies for agricultural exports," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE,
28 April 1999; "Canada's Marchi to seek end to ag subsidies at WTO," DOW
JONES, 19 April 1999;
 "Economy-Argentina: striking farmers demand boost out of crisis," IPS, 20
April 1999; "OECD cuts agricultural forecasts," FINANCIAL TIMES, 21 April
1999;
 "Agriculture-Latam: small farmers to benefit from integration," IPS, 23
April 1999; ICTSD Internal Files.

WTO's D-G Selection: Council Engages in Bad Governance Pratices; Ad
Interim D-G Appointed
 David Hartridge, Director, Trade in Services Division has been appointed
Acting WTO Director-General, effective 1 May. Hartridge, a British
national, is said to have been selected based on his seniority as a WTO
Director.

Renato Ruggiero, former Director-General, left as he had said he would, on
30 April. His U.S., Korean and Indian Deputy Director Generals (DDGs) also
left that day. WTO Members, who have been seeking to reach agreement on a
new Director-General for several months now, met Friday and over the
weekend, but failed to agree on which of the two candidates: New Zealander
Mike Moore or Supachai Panitchpakdi, currently Deputy Prime Minister of
Thailand, to nominate to the WTO's top post. "The most unexpected and
horrible quarrel Ive ever witnessed at the WTO was set off at that meeting
" exclaimed an ambassador with more than ten-years of experience in
Geneva. "Something broke and it will take many years to repair it", he
concluded. The tone of the meetings and the behavior of delegations have
set a precedence in bad governance practice at the WTO. One official
described the last official meeting on Saturday as "testy, tense and not
terribly pleasant".

Another meeting scheduled for Monday was canceled amid acrimony before it
even began. And as BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest goes to press, Members
are still at odds on a final outcome. Meanwhile, other WTO Meetings, such
as on preparations for the Ministerial Conference, have been canceled.

Members had entrusted the consultations for selection to the Chairman of
the General Council, Ambassador Mchumo (Tanzania) and the William Rossier,
Swiss Ambassador to the WTO. In doing so and aiming at a consensus
decision, Members had agreed on a three-tier criteria for the
consultations so that only one candidates name would be put forward to the
Council for approval. That name would have to: 1) be the preference of a
majority of Members; 2) gather support from a broad geographic spectrum of
the membership; and, 3) be acceptable to every Member of the organization.
On this basis, Ambassador Mchumo presented the name of Mike Moore on
Friday. Several delegations, including the EC delegation on behalf of its
fifteen Member-States, Peru, Panama, Brazil and other who had voiced
preference for Supachais, announced their willingness to go with the rules
and the consensus. However, the ASEAN group, supported by Japan, Mexico
and a large group of African countries, considered the proposal an undue
imposition. The main claim being that all along the past months the Thais
candidate had a majority preference and that the Chairman had failed top
seek a consensus around his name then. Since that meeting on Friday,
polarization, un-diplomatic behavior and offensive language have
characterized the meetings up to today. On Tuesday this week, Kenya,
calling on Article 28 of the Council Rules, brought the name of Minister
Suppachai formally back to the negotiating table.

The U.S. has made it clear that it will not support reconsideration of
Supachais nomination. Thai politicians called for reviewing relations with
the United States, local papers reported today. Prime Minister Chuan
Leekpai was quoted by the Bangkok Post today as saying there was something
"fishy" in the WTO selection process.

Observers speculated that a way out might be found in either withdrawal of
both candidates or by means of a procedural transitory arrangement which
gives time to Members to repair their decision-making process. The former
possibility is likely given the hard stance of the Thai and ASEAN
governments on one hand, and the possible erosion of domestic political
support for Moore in New Zealand. Moore is a political figure of the
current governments main opposition party. The latter possibility, might
be forced by both bands as ASEANs stand rigidifies and time turns into
further advantage for Moore.

 "Business: The Economy Crunch time for WTO," BBC ONLINE, 4 May 1999;
 "Supachai rejects call to quit," Bangkok Post, 4 May, 1999;
 "WTO To Try Again To Appoint Leader," AP, 4 May 1999;
 "WTO paralyzed by dispute over leadership," IPS, 4 May 1999; ICTSD
Internal Files.

Seattle, the WTO Ministerial and NGOs
 At a meeting with NGOs in Washington DC last month, Alain Frank of the
External Relations Division, said that the WTO would be likely to post
information on its website, between 15 July and 17 September, as to how
NGOs could apply for accreditation to the Ministerial Meeting in Seattle
next November. Alain Frank pointed out, inter alia, that NGOs requesting
accreditation must be trade-related and able to justify that relation, and
that a maximum of four representatives per NGO will be accredited at the
Ministerial.

Outside the actual meeting rooms, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the
Sierra Club plan major demonstrations at the Third WTO Ministerial 30
November - 3 December in Seattle, Washington. They will have plenty of
company as steelworkers and other labour and citizens' groups are expected
to descend on Seattle in their thousands, to protest globalisation.
Meanwhile, Seattle's city council last month voted unanimously on a
resolution to oppose the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI),
saying the MAI would severely constrain local and state government's
ability to regulate corporate behaviour. Several WTO Members have
requested that WTO negotiations on investment be launched at the Seattle
meeting.

 "Seattle is bracing for protesters at a trade meeting in November," WALL
STREET JOURNAL, 29 April 1999;
 "Seattle City Council votes against International investment pact MAI is
a threat to local government," PRESS RELEASE (Seattle City Council), 13
April 1999; ICTSD Internal Files.

For further information on accreditation, contact Alain Frank, email:
alain.frank@wto.org

 The website of the Seattle Ministerial Conference Host Committee is at:
http://www.wtoseattle.org/ For further information on NGO/monitoring of
Seattle preparations in the U.S. contact Maria Riley (Center of
Concern)at: mriley@coc.org

Bananas: 

EU Will Not Appeal WTO Ruling The EU last week said it would not appeal
the WTO ruling against its revised banana import regime. (See BRIDGES
Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 3, No. 13-14, 12 April 1999.)  Meanwhile EU
foreign ministers called on the European Commission to submit by the end
of May proposals for complying with the WTO decision. EU sources however
said that a complete overhaul of its banana import regime could take
months, as it would have to be approved by EU governments and the European
Parliament. 

The U.S. has reportedly said it would consider accepting an EU tariff on
Latin American bananas that is higher than the EU's bound tariff rate
under the WTO. The U.S. would require that this regime be void of
preferential quotas and licensing systems the EU currently affords banana
imports from African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) banana producers.


 "EU's Brittan hopes for quick resolution to banana dispute," DOW JONES,
27 April 1999;
 "EU governments want banana reform plan by end-May," REUTERS, 27 April
1999;
 "U.S. signals tariff flexibility to EU on new banana import regime,"
INSIDE US TRADE, 30 April 1999.

CSD Meets To Discuss Marine Issues
 The seventh annual session of the UN Commission on Sustainable
Development (CSD) took place 19-30 April. The focus of the session was on
ocean issues such as overfishing, marine pollution, and destruction of
coral reefs and ecosystems. The CSD also considered issues related to
sustainable tourism, and the cross- sectoral theme of consumption and
production patterns. It also prepared for the UN General Assembly's
Special Session to review the Barbados Programme of Action for the
Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). 

NGOs criticised the CSD's session for having failed to take strong action
to halt the expansion of commercial fishing, industrial shrimp farming, or
subsidies to fishing vessel owners. CSD Chair Simon Upton, New Zealand's
environment minister, acknowledged that governments could not reach
consensus on key ocean management issues, including subsidies,
eco-labelling, and the transit of hazardous waste. However Upton also
pointed to breakthroughs in this year's CSD, such as the fact that the
body had called on FAO and the International Maritime Organisation to act
against illegal and unreported fishing, including "pirate" fishing. 

During the meeting, Netherlands' Environment Minister Jan Pronk proposed
the establishment of a so-called Green Interpol to crack down on
environmental crimes. Addressing the UN Commission on Sustainable
Development Mr. Pronk proposed combining the compliance regimes of all the
various environmental conventions to forge a concrete and operational
mechanism to handle the inspection, investigation, policing and
prosecution of environmental criminals. 

Also at the CSD the 15-member International Commission on Sustainable
Consumption was launched, to develop "different, determinedly practical" 
measures to foster lifestyle changes necessary to achieve sustainable
development. The Commission will present its findings in 2002 as part of a
UN review of progress 10 years after the Rio Earth Summit. Commission
members will be private and public sector officials, as well as academics,
from industrialised and developing countries. 

For more details on the session, see
http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/download/asc/enb05132e.txt

 "Minister Jan Pronk calls for 'green Interpol' to stop rampant
eco-criminals," EARTH TIMES NEWS, 23 April 1999; 
 "Privately sponsored international panel to develop action plan for UN
Commission," INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT REPORT, 28 April 1999; 
 "Disapointment at progress in sustainable development," IPS, 3 May 1999; 
 "Summary of the Seventh Session of the UN Commission on Sustainable
Development: 19-30 April 1999", ENB, 3 May, 1999.

NAFTA Ministers: Canada Proposes To Narrow Investor-State Provison

Trade ministers from Mexico, Canada and the U.S. met last month in Ottawa
for a review of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), now in
its fifth year. U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky called for
increased attention to the needs of environment, labour and other
non-government organisations in NAFTA, as well as at the WTO and in
negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

At the NAFTA ministerial, Mexico expressed strong opposition to a Canadian
proposal to retroactively narrow the interpretation of NAFTA's Chapter 11
investor-state provision. NAFTA Chapter 11 allows an investor to seek
compensation if a government acts to directly or indirectly expropriate an
investment in that country. At the NAFTA ministerial last month, Canada
proposed to limit the definition of what government actions amount to
expropriation. Mexico opposed the idea, arguing that to re-open the NAFTA
text would be "fatal" to NAFTA. Instead, interpretation of Chapter 11
should be left to the dispute settlement process established under NAFTA,
according to Mexican Minister of Trade and Industrial Development Herminio
Blanco. The U.S. had no official comment on the proposal.

Observers note that Canada's proposal was made in response to political
pressure from non-governmental organisations (NGOs). NGOs have criticised
Chapter 11 as subversive to environmental goals. For example, cases
brought against Canada under NAFTA Chapter 11 have sought to reverse
Canadian bans on MMT, a gasoline additive with a high magnesium content
considered to be a public health risk; and a ban on the export of
hazardous waste containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Hemispheric NGOs last month warned against adopting NAFTA Chapter 11 as a
model for investment rules under FTAA, stressing that such rules threaten
the health, environment and sovereignty of nations. In its submission to
the FTAA committee on civil society participation, the Center for
International Environmental Law (CIEL) issued a clear statement against
NAFTA Chapter 11 as a model for FTAA rules on investment. "The [NAFTA]
expropriation provisions are drafted broadly enough to raise concern that
corporations will use them to exact compensation from governments for
imposing regulations, even when such regulations are promulgated in the
normal course of regulating in the public interest." according to the CIEL
paper.

"Notes for an address by the Honourable Sergio Marchi Minister for
International Trade to the NAFTA fifth anniversary luncheon,
 " Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade - Canada, 23
April 1999;
 "NAFTA ministers clash over Canadian proposal to modify NAFTA,
 " INSIDE US TRADE, 30 April 1999; 
 "Environmental protection and investment rules in the Free Trade Area of
the Americas,
 " CIEL, 31 March 1999;
 "Trade: NGO concerns over power of foreign investors in FTAA," IPS, 22
April 1999.

Accession Update:
 China, EU Meet; China Builds Mission to WTO The French press has been
saying that the Chinese government is optimistically anticipating a
favourable conclusion to its WTO accession bid by having started works
last February to build its WTO Mission in Geneva, less than a kilometre up
the lakefront from the WTO building itself. 

This does not mean that the way into the WTO will be plain sailing for
China: EU and Chinese trade negotiators met last week to discuss China's
accession to the WTO. Negotiators focused on the phaseout of customs
duties and quotas, and market access for the telecom, banking and
insurance sectors. The EU is keen to ensure that the U.S. does not secure
the upper hand with China in any U.S.-China bilateral accord. Talks took
place in advance of this week's visit to Beijing by European Commission
Vice President Sir Leon Brittan - who is expected to announce a bilateral
deal on accession. 

China must still conclude bilateral agreements with Australia, Japan and
the U.S. Talks last week between U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators
brought the two sides no closer to an agreement. Indeed, Chinese
negotiators accused the U.S. of being "too demanding." 

Last week, outgoing WTO Director-General noted that China has made
significant progress in its latest round of offers. Mr. Ruggiero was
optimistic that China would be admitted to the WTO no later than January
2000 if not earlier. 

 "OMC: la Chine negocie avec Washington et Bruxelles," LE FIGARO, 27 April
1999;
 "Wide open," FAR EASTERN ECONOMIC REVIEW, 22 April 1999; 
 "Comme pour forcer le destin, la Chine construit deja son siege aupres de
l'OMC," Le Monde, 30 April 1999; 
 "Zhu's lone crusade," BUSINESS WEEK, 27 April 1999;
 "China economy: WTO concessions spelled out," ECONOMIST INTELLIGENCE
UNIT, 28 April 1999;
 "China toughens its stance on WTO," INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE, 29
April 1999.

In Brief

 Responding to concerns over health and environment implications from
genetically modified crops, China hopes to complete a National Framework
for Bio-Safety Administration from which guidelines and regulations
governing the use of biotechnology will be based. Chinese scientists
expect biotechnology will be a major growth vehicle for the Chinese
economy in the next century. The framework should be complete later this
year.
 "China begins developing regulations to address potential risks of
biotechnology," INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT REPORT, 28 April 1999. 

Two leading food companies - Unilever and Nestle UK, last week announced
they would phase out the use of genetically modified ingredients from
their line of food products for sale in the UK. The move is reported to be
in response to continued resistance toward genetically modified foodstuffs
by European consumers.
 "Giant companies to phase out biotech foods," ENS, 28 April 1999; 
 "Food industry backtracks on use of modified ingredients,"  FINANCIAL
TIMES, 30 April 1999. 

Meeting in Rome from 12-23 April, delegates were not able to conclude the
revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources. A
main objective of this exercise was to bring the Undertaking into harmony
with the Convention on Biological Diversity. ICTSD Internal Files. 

"Substantive progress" was made on a Liability Protocol to the Basel
Convention on Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes, according to
delegates at the most recent negotiating meeting, held from 19-23 April,
in Geneva. Another negotiating meeting is likely to be held in September,
before the Protocol is due to be adopted at the Conference of the Parties
to the Basel Convention, in December 1999. ICTSD Internal Files. 

WTO In Brief

The Clinton Administration is planning to bring seven new complaints of
unfair trade practices before the WTO, including two cases against the EU
(on French subsidies to Airbus, and on labelling requirements regarding
geographical indications for agricultural products and foodstuffs), two
against South Korea (on U.S. beef exports, and government procurement
practices for airport construction). The seventh case is against an
alleged Canadian violation of the TRIPs Agreement, regarding duration of
patents. The U.S. is also arguing that Argentina has failed to comply with
the TRIPs Agreement regarding protection of undisclosed test data
submitted to gain marketing approval for agricultural chemicals. 

 "Administration to bring seven trade complaints to WTO," CONGRESS DAILY,
30 April, 1999. 

Australia last week announced it would withdraw its WTO complaint against
Japan's rice tariffication scheme. (See BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest
Vol. 3, No 12, 29 March 1999). Australia will instead pursue bilateral
discussions with Japan to resolve issues related to the scheme. Japan
implemented its scheme on 1 April, although it must still resolve
remaining objections registered by three other WTO Members: the EU,
Argentina and Uruguay. 

 "Australia to retract objection to Japan's rice tariffs," DOW JONES 26
April 1999. 

Norway tabled last week a document with proposals on Trade and Environment
in the context of the post-poned session of the General Councils
Preparations for the 1999 Ministerial Conference. The paper calls for
taking account of environmental concerns in all fields of negotiations; 
singles out the use of trade-measures in pursuance of Multilateral
Environmental Agreements (MEAs) as well as the issue of voluntary
eco-labelling programmes as subjects which need to be addressed during the
upcoming negotiations; and, makes specific proposals of elements on trade
and environment to be included in the Seattle Ministerial Declaration,
including the objective of sustainable development, the precautionary
principle, the polluter pays principle and the right to development. 
  WTO Document WT/GC/W/176, 30 April 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 by Hugo Cameron and
Marie Chamay; written by Judy Brienza (IATP) and Lucas Assuncao
and edited by Caroline Dommen, cdommen@ictsd.ch. The Director
is Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz, rmelendez@ictsd.ch. ICTSD is an
independent, not-for-profit organization based at: 13, ch des
Anemones, 1219 Geneva, Switzerland. Tel: (41 22) 979 9492; 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 an should be
directed to the Editor or the Director. 

To subscribe send email
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