GENTECH archive


BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 3, Number 19 17 May, 1999



For a more complete list of events in coming months, please refer to
ICTSD's web calendar at:


An updated list of forthcoming WTO meetings is posted at Please bear in mind that dates and
times of WTO meetings are often changed, and that the important informal
meetings of different WTO bodies are not always announced.

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

26 May: DISPUTE SETTLEMENT BODY--Members will discuss, inter alia, the
Beef-Hormone Dispute and proposed nominations for the indicative list of
governmental and non-governmental panellists.
 For information contact Nuch Nazeer, as above.

1 June: GENERAL COUNCIL. Agenda not yet available.
 For information contact Nuch Nazeer, as above.

1-4 June: SPECIAL COURSE - DSB. For information contact Nuch Nazeer, as


30 May-18 June, Lund, Sweden: EDUCATE THE EDUCATORS. Conference presented
by the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics at
Lund University and the UNEP Cleaner Production Working Group.
 For information contact Jonathan Hobbs, UNEP Industry and Environment
Centre, Tour Mirabeau 39 43 quai Andri Citrven, 75739 Paris cedex 15, tel:
(33-1) 4437-1450, fax: 1474, e-mail, web:

11-12 June, Brussels: POLICY FORUM: GENDER FOCUS ON THE WTO--Advocacy and
Strategy Planning for the Third WTO Ministerial Conference. Jointly hosted
by ICDA and Global Publications Foundation. The purpose of this Policy
Forum is to focus on various angles of gender, human rights and
sustainable development in relation to international trade. There is no
Conference fee.
 For information contact ICDA, Rue Stivin 115, B-1000, Brussels, Tel:
(32-2) 230-0430, fax: 5237, e-mail:, web:

ACROSS THE GLOBE. June 18th will be an international day of action aimed
at the heart of the global economy: the financial centres, banking
districts and multinational corporation power bases. The idea is to
encourage as many movements and groups as possible to organise their own
autonomous protests on the same day (June 18th), in the same geographical
locations around the world.
 For information send an e-mail to with the following
request: subscribe J18DISCUSSION Your Email Address. Messages sent to the
listserv will automatically go to other interested groups around the world
to facilitate wider discussion. Or visit the website at

Agricultural Trade Research Consortium. Registration fee is $US 200.
 For information contact Laurie Treacher, Agricultural Issues Center,
University of California, Davis, CA 95616 USA, tel: (1- 530) 752-2320,
fax: 5451, e-mail:, web:

23-26 August, Bangalore, India: SECOND PGA CONFERENCE. The conference will
launch a discussion process among peoples' movements from the around the
world on the role and functions that an international co- ordination and
communication network like the People's Global Action should play, and how
it should fulfil those functions. Prior to the conference (20-22 August),
a number of roundtable discussions will be held to allow participants to
exchange information in issues such as biotechnology, the struggle of
indigenous peoples, or the negotiations agenda in the WTO.
 For information contact the PGA, e-mail:, web:


the International Institute for Sustainable Development has launched a
revised version of its Business and Sustainable Development Internet site
(, BSD Online. New features include cases,
interviews and video footage on, inter alia, the banking sector and
sustainable development and four new Canadian company case studies on
Emissions Trading.
 For information contact: Deborah Bakker, IISD, tel: (1-204) 958-7743, or
Ron Duersksen, 7742, e-mail:

WTO WEBSITE TRADE STATISTICS UPDATE. The following statistics have been
updated on the WTO website:
 * World merchandise trade by region and selected economies, 1980, 1985,
1990, and 1995-1998 -- value and volume in excel format or in .exe format
- download at
 * World trade of commercial services by region and selected economies,
1980, 1985, 1990 and 1995- 1998 - in excel or in .exe format download at
 * Also available in French and Spanish at;

enables you to analyse international trade patterns between countries and
regions, and to extract and export extensive trade statistics and graphics
to spreadsheet or database.
 To order, visit

analysis of the generic pesticide industry, covering all aspects of trade,
from major companies to the factors driving the shift towards off-patent
 No 1: The Companies, February 1998. Brian R. Hicks. 201 pp. US$1,050;
 No. 2: Products and Markets, April 1998. Brian R. Hicks. 220 pp.
 No. 3: Successful Business Strategies- for R&D-based and Generic
Companies. June, 1998. Brian R. Hicks. Examines strategies driving the
global generic pesticide trade as well as strategies of those attempting
to contain it. 113 pp. US$945.
 For ordering information contact PharmaBooks Ltd., 1775 Broadway, Suite
511, New York, NY 10019, USA, tel: (1-212) 262-8230, fax: 8234.

Table of Contents                           

- WTO Beef Deadline Passes: U.S., Canada To Seek Retaliatory Sanctions
- Quad Ministers Meet
- Bananas: WTO Members Adopt Panel Findings
- IFF-3: Little Headway on Trade and Environment
- Vietnam Wood Crisis
- U.S. Release List Of 'Certified' Shrimp Exporters
- In Brief
- WTO In Brief


As anticipated, the EU on 13 May failed to meet the deadline to comply
with a 1998 ruling against the EU ban on hormone-treated beef imports. The
U.S. immediately confirmed it would seek WTO authorisation to impose
punitive tariffs on EU goods. The U.S. Trade Representative's office
announced it would seek to impose US$202 million in retaliatory duties,
much less than previous estimates of up to US$900 million. The lower
figure is thought to be closer to what WTO Members would approve. Canada
is also expected to file for WTO authority to retaliate against the EU ban
and has announced a 30 day public consultation period regarding the
products which should be targeted for the estimated C$70 Million lost in
beef exports since the ban began.

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 (until 13 May 1999) 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 EU earlier this month said it would not lift the ban after two
preliminary studies identified risks to health caused by hormones found in
U.S. hormone-treated beef. This decision was backed by an EU farm
ministers meeting in Brussels on the 17 May. According to acting EU Farm
Commissioner Franz Fischler "both sides must realise there are serious
concerns and we have a new basis for discussion." He added, "If there is
a clear risk to human health then labelling cannot be considered," in
reference to the possibility of importing hormone treated beef under a
labelling agreement.

The U.S. declined to specify what goods would be included on its
retaliation list. The U.S. did this to avoid a shut down in trade of
targeted products before getting WTO authorisation for imposing
retaliatory duties. The EU argued in the WTO dispute over bananas that by
publishing a preliminary list of goods on which 100% duties would be
imposed, the U.S. effectively shut down trade in those goods before
getting WTO approval for retaliation.

 "EU faces retaliation if it keeps ban on beef says US," JOURNAL OF
COMMERCE, 17 May 1999;
 "USTR may delay publication of hormone retaliation list against EU,"
INSIDE US TRADE, 14 May 1999;
 "US list EU exports with 100% duty," FINANCIAL TIMES, 15 May 1999;
 "US to ask about $200 mln in damages in EU beef row," REUTERS, 14 May
1999; "Canada To Seek WTO Okay To Retaliate Against EU Beef Ban", DOW
JONES, 17 May 1999.


Trade ministers from the so-called quadrilateral co-ordination mechanism
(comprising the US, EU, Japan, and Canada, commonly known as "the Quad")
met last week to discuss preparations for the Third WTO Ministerial
Conference in Seattle later this year. Quad leaders failed to agree on a
number of details for the forthcoming round- including whether or not the
round should be comprehensive or sectoral in approach. Quad countries did
agree that the proposed Millennium Round should be concluded in three

Quad ministers did not make any concrete recommendations with regard to
what sectors would be included in the next round of talks, although the
Quad statement did say talks should include all service sectors. Quad
ministers continued to disagree over whether to press for talks on
investment rules. The EU and Japan called for the inclusion of a global
agreement on investment rules within the proposed round of talks. The U.S.
thus far remains sceptical that an investment agreement could be concluded
at the WTO. Talks on a Multilateral Agreement on Investment shut down late
last year at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD). (See BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 2, No 48, 14 December
1998.) Much of the developing world, as well as environmental and consumer
groups have expressed opposition to investment talks at the WTO.

Quad ministers agreed to conclude respective bilateral talks with China
around its WTO accession in time for the Seattle ministerial. Further,
Quad ministers issued a general statement of support for quick and perhaps
more flexible accession for developing countries in the near- term. ''We
agreed that the WTO should become a more universal organisation. We
therefore agreed that we should accelerate the negotiations to facilitate
the early accession of applicants on the basis of mutually acceptable and
commercially viable market access commitments and adherence to the WTO
rules in time for the launching of the next round, and to maintain
flexibility in addressing the particular circumstances of acceding least
developed countries," according to the Quad statement.

 "Chair's Statement, 33rd Quadrilateral Trade Ministers Meeting, Tokyo;"
 "Quad fails to bridge gaps over structure, scope of WTO talks," INSIDE US
TRADE, 14 May 1999;
 "Quad ministers' WTO agenda includes completion of China accession


WTO Members on 6 May approved the Dispute Settlement Panel findings
against the EU banana import regime. The EU quickly announced it would not
appeal the panel's findings. With that, Ecuador, one of the five
successful complainants in the long running dispute (along with the U.S.,
Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala) said it would request consultations with
the EU on the best way to implement the ruling. Ecuador's ambassador to
the WTO said that Ecuador would not immediately pursue compensation for
lost trade, adding that Ecuador was still assessing damages.

Meanwhile, the European Commission (EC) is this week expected to unveil
its revised plans for complying with the WTO ruling against its regime,
although it could take until late fall or early 2000 to implement any
changes. "We are engaging in conversations with our American partners,
with [African, Pacific and Caribbean (ACP)] countries, with Latin American
countries, with all other interested parties, to see if we can find a
solution in terms of changes to the EU regime which will be acceptable to
our partners and which meet the requirements of the WTO decision," EC Vice
President Sir Leon Brittan said.

The WTO panel recommended three possible choices for implementing its
ruling, including a tariff- only scheme, which could include a
preferential tariff for ACP bananas; a tariff-quota for ACP bananas under
a WTO waiver; or country-specific quotas possibly combined with duty-free
treatment for ACP bananas. ACP producers are keen for the EU to adopt a
regime that would protect ACP banana-dependent economies from devastation.
A tariff-only scheme, under which ACP bananas would enjoy a lower tariff
than other bananas, is favoured by the U.S. ACP producers and exporters
worry that this option, if the EU adopts it, could lead to dumping by
large multinational producers such as Chiquita and Dole, which are already
low cost producers.

While Caribbean banana producers warily await the EU revised regime,
another ACP country, Cote d'Ivoire, could escape unbruised by impending
changes. Ctte d'Ivoire accounts for about 42 percent of all ACP banana
production, having benefited from EU funded modernisation projects geared
at improving production efficiencies, resulting in competitive production
costs for the region. Ironically, however, Dole, one of the U.S.-based
banana distributors which instigated the WTO case against the EU, is
reportedly boosting production out of Cote d'Ivoire and Cameroon because
of the competitive production conditions. It already controls about 60
percent of production in the region.

 "WTO formally adopts EU banana ruling; Ecuador to seek compensation for
 "EU will make its own banana changes if no accord," RUETERS, 10 May 1999;
 "West African bananas make windfall gains," AFRICA ANALYIS, 30 April
 "Les americains font main basse sur la banane ivoirienne," LA TRIBUNE, 22
March 1999;
 "Proposition de Bruxelles attendue pour fin mai," AGRA PRESSE HEBDO, 3
May 1999.


The Third Session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF-3) met
3-14 May in Geneva. The IFF meets under the auspices of the UN Commission
on Sustainable Development (CSD) to continue the dialogue begun under the
Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF), working toward the adoption of
international legally binding mechanisms to facilitate and promote
sustainable forest use.

Delegates were unable to make any headway in discussions around trade and
environment, although some commented that the fact that delegates were
able to agree on a draft text at all was an achievement. Observers noted
that talks foreshadowed possible WTO negotiations on forestry products,
with developing country exporters pressing for improved market access for
its products and developed countries arguing that tariff discussions were
beyond the competence of IFF. Other forest product importers urged
trade-based measures supporting the aim of sustainably managed forests.
North-South divisions were also evident in discussions around linkage to
the Convention on Biological Diversity for financial protection with
respect to technology transfer and traditional forest related knowledge.
Developed countries were opposed to any such linkage. IFF-4 is scheduled
for 31 January -11 February 2000 in New York.

 "Summary of the Third Session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests:
3-14 May 1999, " EARTH NEGOTIATIONS BULLETIN (IISD), ICTSD Internal Files.


Friends of the Earth-UK and Global Witness, two UK-based environmental
groups, are calling for a boycott of hardwood garden furniture made in
Vietnam. The groups allege that the furniture products, while bearing
labels claiming the products were "Made in Vietnam," are actually derived
from wood bought illegally from Cambodia, where the wood was harvested to
fund Cambodian military operations. The groups are encouraging UK
consumers to only purchase wood furniture bearing the Forest Stewardship
Council logo, indicating the wood was derived from a sustainably managed
forest system.

Cambodia had instituted a ban on the export of fresh-cut logs in May 1995
in response to international pressure led by Global Witness. Global
Witness alleges that a deal endorsed by the Cambodian government allows
the military to illegally profit from timber sales. The group also says
that Cambodia's forest cover has declined from 70% of land area in the
early 1970s to 30-35% today. "Cambodia's forests are being used as a
personal bank account by Cambodia's and Vietnam's political, military, and
Mafia style business leaders, with severe social, ecological and economic
implications for the country and its people," according to Patrick Alley,
director of Global Witness.

In 1997, alarmed about the growing environmental damage caused by logging
in the country's Central Highlands, the Vietnam government announced
restrictions on the export of wood products and introduced new controls on
the logging of the country's remaining natural forest. With access to
domestic supplies curtailed, Vietnamese processors have turned to
alternative sources of supply, including illegally felled Vietnamese
timber and illegal imports from Cambodia.

 "Vietnamese furniture plundered from Cambodian forests," ENS, 6 April
 "Wood crisis hits Vietnam," FINANCIAL TIMES, 14 May 1999.


The U.S. State Department on 1 May issued its list of countries that meet
U.S. requirements for turtle conservation in shrimp harvesting and are
thus eligible to export shrimp to the U.S. market. The list includes 12
countries that require the use of so-called Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs)
which allow sea turtles to escape from nets cast to harvest shrimp. 25
other countries were included on the list because their fishing practices
do not put sea turtles at risk (e.g. manual harvesting or harvesting in
cold waters).

The U.S. in 1996 instituted a ban on wild shrimp imports caught without
the use of TEDs (based on the U.S. Endangered Species Act). The WTO has
since ruled that the ban violates international trade rules (See BRIDGES
Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 2, No. 39, 12 October 1998.) India,
Pakistan, Malaysia and Thailand brought the case against the U.S. ban to
the WTO, which has evolved into a landmark case highlighting differences
between the international trade, development and environment communities.
The U.S. has until December 1999 to comply with the WTO ruling: however,
the U.S. Court of International Trade, in a preliminary ruling issued last
month, ruled that the Clinton Administration's proposal to comply violates
domestic environmental law (see BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 3,
No. 15- 16, 26 April 1999).

Among the four successful complainant countries, all but Thailand were
absent from last week's list of approved shrimp exporters to the U.S.
Thailand had the ban lifted by the U.S. in 1996 after ensuring that its
fleet was equipped with TEDs. Brazil, which last year was dropped from the
list of approved countries, will be granted shipment-by-shipment access to
the U.S. market, provided that Brazilian officials certify that each
shipment has been harvested using TEDs. In related news, scientists have
expressed alarm over the rapid decline in Southeast Asia's turtle
population resulting from increased consumer demand for turtles in China.
"Southeast Asia is being vacuumed of its turtles for China's food market,"
according to Dr. John Behler with the International Union for the
Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. According to Traffic, a
conservation monitoring group, between 1994 and 1996 turtle exports from
Vietnam to the Chinese market increased dramatically- from about 240 tons
annual to over 700 tons. Scientists attribute China's increased income
levels for the surge in demand.

 "State Department certifies 37 countries to export shrimp to the U.S.,"
USIA, 3 May 1999;
 "China's new wealth creates growing demand for turtles," NEW YORK TIMES,
4 May 1999.


EU and Mexican trade officials are scheduled to meet this week for the 
next round of trade talks toward a bilateral free trade agreement. The 
EU last week asked Mexico to remove emergency import fees imposed 
earlier this year to close the gap on a budget shortfall of US$500 
million, brought on by collapsed prices for Mexican oil exports. EU 
officials contend the economic conditions necessitating the emergency 
trade measures have improved. 

"EU asks Mexico to scrap tariff hikes," 
REUTERS, 6 May 1999. 

The International Organisation of French-Speaking Countries (La 
Francophonie) met in April in Monaco to discuss the grouping's role in 
globalisation. The meet marked the first Conference of Ministers of 
Economy and Finance, where ministers discussed how to better 
incorporate La Francophonie's developing countries - 26 of whom are 
among the world's poorest countries, into the global trading system. 
Ministers also discussed forging a common position around the so-called 
cultural exception during the next round of global trade talks - which 
could include negotiations on a multilateral agreement on investment. 
France and Canada had pushed for a cultural exception to be included in 
now-defunct MAI talks at the OECD.

 "La Francophonie veut son exception 
economique," LE MONDE, 27 April 1999.


WTO Members have cancelled their 19 May meeting, at which they were to
have appointed a new Director-General (see BRIDGES Weekly Trade News
Digest Vol. 3, No. 17, 3 May 1999). While neither of the two current
candidates has withdrawn, new names are being offered up. Possible
replacement candidates mentioned in separate press reports include Jose
Miguel Insulza, Chile's foreign trade minister; Celso Lafer, Brazil's
minister of development, industry and trade; Enrique Iglesias, former
Uruguayan trade minister and now head of the Inter-American Development
Bank; and Alec Erwin, South Africa's trade minister.
 "Trade ministers to discuss WTO crisis," FINANCIAL TIMES, 11 May 1999;
 "Barshefsky admits possibility of new WTO Director General candidates,"
INSIDE US TRADE, 14 May 1999; ICTSD Internal Files.

The first discussion in the EC courts of the legal effect of a post-
Uruguay Round WTO dispute settlement report (as distinct from WTO rules
themselves) can be found in an opinion delivered (in French only) on 6 May
by Advocate-General Mischo, in Atlanta AG v. the European Commission (Case
C-104/97). The case is available online from the European Court of Justice
of the European Communities' website, via or via

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 edited by Caroline Dommen, The 
Director is Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz, 
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 
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