GENTECH archive


BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 3, Number 22 7 June, 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 WTO often 
does not announce the important informal meetings of its various 

7 - 8 June: INFORMAL MEETING OF THE GENERAL COUNCIL (preparations for 3rd
Ministerial Meeting).
  For information contact Peter Pedersen, WTO, tel (41-22) 739-5848.

 For information contact Hans-Peter Werner, WTO, tel (41-22) 739-5286.

  For information contact Luis Ople, WTO, tel (41-22) 739-5374.

17 June (moved forwards from 21 June): GENERAL COUNCIL SPECIAL SESSION
(preparations for 3rd Ministerial Meeting). Suggested focus of the
meeting: organisation and management of the work programme to be agreed on
at Seattle, including structure and time-frames.
  For information contact Peter Pedersen, as above.

16 July (postponed from 15 June): SUB-COMMITTEE ON LEAST-DEVELOPED
  For information, contact Lucie Giraud, WTO, tel (41-22) 739- 5075. 


symposium, members of the public and experts from public health,
ecological, and agricultural disciplines will discuss how the
precautionary principle should apply to genetic engineering technologies
and organisms that have public health implications.
 For information contact Lisa Foersom, tel: (1-804) 828-1760, email:

the agenda include preparations for the 3rd WTO Ministerial, preparations
for UNCTAD X to be held in February 2000, and UNCTAD's role in corporate
social responsibility.
  For information contact Alisa Clarke, UNCTAD, tel: (41-22) 917-1234,

International Economic Law and Dispute Settlement and Geneva University's
Law Faculty.
 Contact Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann, Academy of International Economic Law,
tel: (41-22) 705-8542, fax: 705-8543.

28 June - 3 July, Rome: CODEX ALIMENTARIUS COMMISSION, 23rd Session. This
meeting will consider, inter alia, the principle of risk analysis, and
consumers' involvement in the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
  For information contact the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, Food
and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla 00100 Rome, Italy, tel: (39-06) 57051, 
fax: 5705-4593, email: CODEX@FAO.Org, web: 

AND GENDER. This workshop takes place in the context of preparations for
UNCTAD X. States are asked to nominate experts who will participate in the
Workshop in their personal capacities. Other experts may be selected from
the academic world, the public and private sectors, and NGOs.
  For information contact Departmental Focal Point on Women, UNCTAD, tel:
(41-22) 917-5690, fax: 917-0122, email: gloria- 

26 July - 13 August, Nairobi: TRAINING EAST AFRICAN LAWYERS IN
Biological Diversity Institute (GBDI) and Nairobi Research Organisation
 Contact: Robert Lettington, CGIAR/FoE, email: 


Farooq (eds), Edward Elgar & UNCTAD, May 1999. At the initiative of
UNCTAD, economists including Samuel K. Appiah (Ghana), L.T. Chitsike
(Zimbabwe), Ligia Noronha (India) and Rabbi Poobal Ryan (Malaysia) have
pooled their knowledge to address the issue of what role the exploitation
of natural resources plays in stimulating or retarding economic growth in
developing countries.
 To order, contact Marston Book Services Ltd, PO Box 269, Abingdon OX14
4YN, UK, tel: (44-1235) 465- 500, fax 465-555, email:, web: 

THE ROAD TO SEATTLE is a free electronic news bulletin that will highlight
events, meetings, forums and other planning activities - of both the
governmental and the non-governmental sector - during the buildup to the
WTO's Third Ministerial Meeting, to be held in Seattle at the end of this
 To subscribe to The Road to Seattle, send an email to
In the body of the message, write: subscribe road_to_seattle Full text
searchable archives of this and other IATP bulletins can be found at

WTO MINISTERIAL PLANNING FORUM. This is a private, threaded discussion
forum open to groups and individuals working on preparations for the Third
WTO Ministerial.
 To register, go to IATP's Trade Resource Centre at or contact

Table of Contents                           

- EU Questions U.S.-Canadian Retaliation Request In Beef Dispute
- Brazil-Argentina Pressure EU; Consider Regional Integration And Monetary
- Developing Countries Wary Over Agriculture
- Lat Am: Agriculture Plays a Major Role in Talks with EU
- WTO Committee on Trade and Development Discusses STD, E-Commerce
- COMESA Warns S. Africa on EU Trade Agreement
- First Meeting of WIPO Development Co-operation Committee
- In Brief
- WTO In Brief
- On the Move
- Events & Resources


At the WTO last week the EU blocked U.S. and Canadian requests to impose
retaliatory sanctions against the EU for its failure to comply with a 1998
WTO ruling against the EU ban on imports of beef treated with growth
hormones. (See BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 3, No 6, 15 February
1999.) The EU argued that the dollar values proposed for retaliation by
the U.S. and Canada were excessive in relation to the actual value of
damages the countries suffered as a result of lost trade. The U.S. had
proposed a retaliation list of products valued at US$202 million, and the
value of Canada's proposed retaliation list was CDN$75 million.

The EU also took issue with the U.S. and Canada's reluctance to reveal the
specific list of goods that would be subject to retaliatory tariffs. The
U.S. however is wary to release the list of goods since 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.

The dispute settlement panel that originally ruled on the case must now
review the retaliation levels requested by the U.S. and Canada and make a
ruling by mid-July.

Meanwhile, the EU and U.S. have made little progress on an EU offer to
compensate the U.S. for lost trade resulting from the ban. The U.S.
insists that compensation is a temporary option to be used during an
interim period only, until the EU opens it market to U.S. hormone treated
beef. The EU has said it cannot consider lifting the ban until risk
assessments on hormone treated beef are completed later this year or early
2000. Even after the studies are completed, it may be politically
difficult for the EU to lift the ban amid consumer concern over food

  "EU blocks hormone retaliation at WTO with arbitration request," INSIDE
US TRADE, 4 June 1999;
  "US won't reveal details in beef hormone dispute," 1 June 1999;
  "Trade war escalating in EU-U.S. beef dispute," DOW JONES, 3 June 1999;
  "US still open to compensation in beef row," REUTERS, 3 June 1999;
  "L'Europe conteste les sanctions americaines devant l'OMC," LE TEMPS, 4
June 1999.


In a bilateral meeting in Buenos Aires, the Presidents of Brazil and
Argentina, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Carlos Menem closed ranks in
perspective of the Rio Summit to be held between 26-29 June that will
bring together Mercosur and EU Heads of State and Government. "We
certainly want a negotiation with the European Union, but a genuine- one
that will not exclude talks concerning the issue of agriculture" they
 * President Cardoso insisted that Europeans could not afford to come up
to Rio without any negotiating mandate that will include the end of
European agricultural subsidies.
 * For both Presidents, the Rio meeting is a key building block in the
running up to the WTO Millennium Round expected to be launched in Seattle
in November. In a parallel track, Presidents Cardoso and Menem decided to
push the accelerator of the Mercosur process of integration.
 * Cardoso declared that Mercosur is more than a mere economic integration
agreement, it is a political project that will ensure a good bargaining
position during negotiations with the EU and the US.
 * In this framework, they are committed to enhance co- operation on
macro- economic policy co-ordination with the objective of creating a
single currency for the area.
 * According to Cardoso, this will require a "Maastricht-like" agreement
in the first place, -- referring to the EU process that led to the
creation of the Euro.
 * Efforts will be devoted in priority to fiscal policy co- ordination
between the two countries.
 The idea of using regional integration to achieve fiscal equilibrium
apparently took even some diplomats by surprise.
 * Further talks for a single currency process are expected to centre on
finding common ground for the management of exchange rate, interest rates
policies and external debt negotiating positions.

"Moeda unica para o Mercosul" O GLOBO, 7 June 1999.


A coalition of Indian farmers - the so-called Continental Caravan-99
(ICC-99), has embarked on a month-long series of demonstrations across
Europe to protest against agriculture policies at the WTO headquarters in
Geneva, the European Commission in Brussels and the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, and the European
headquarters of multinational firms such as Novartis and Monsanto.

ICC-99 is one expression of growing discontent among developing countries
toward developed countries' agricultural policies. Several developing
countries have complained that they have liberalised their agricultural
markets only to face domestic competition from cheap (and subsidised)
agricultural imports from developed economies such as the EU. At the same
time they say developed countries' markets remain relatively closed to
agricultural exports from developing countries via a number of non-tariff
barriers to trade such as sanitary and phytosanitary measures, country of
origin labelling and others. Frustrating the situation, developing
countries' attempts to modernise agriculture infrastructure have been
hampered by depressed commodity prices and a subsequent decline in
investment in agriculture.

Meanwhile, EU farmers last month outlined the guiding principles under
which the EU should negotiate in upcoming WTO talks on agriculture. These
included the need for different treatment for different farm sectors,
recognition of EU food safety standards in international trade, inclusion
of environmental and social standards in the next WTO agreement on
agriculture, recognition of the application of environmental measures that
go beyond conventional practices, and a competition policy that prevents
concentration of power in the agricultural supply and service industry.

Australia in its position paper on WTO agriculture talks last month said
it would seek a "major expansion of market access opportunities" for
agricultural products and substantial cuts to protection levels in all
aspects of agricultural production. As part of the Cairns Group of
agricultural exporting nations, Australia is calling for the elimination
of agricultural export subsidies in the next round of trade talks.

  "Development-India: Indian farmers take the war to Europe," IPS, 24 May
  "Farmers set out their stall for the WTO," FARMWIDE WEEKLY LETTER FROM
EUROPE, 13 May 1999;
  "Les paysans du Sud sont les grands perdants de l'OMC," L'AGEFI, 28 May
  "Australia Paper On Agricultural Market Access Negotiations," WTO
(WT/GC/W/184), 20 May 1999.


On 26-29 June EU and Latin American officials will meet in Rio de Janeiro
for the first-ever summit between the EU and Mercosur countries.

In preparation for the meeting, the 14-member Rio Group met last month in
Mexico City where Latin American and Caribbean leaders agreed to push
toward free trade with the region. The EU is currently planning to
negotiate free trade agreements with the Southern Cone Common Market
(Mercosur, comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay). Regional
leaders said talks should incorporate all sectors, emphasising the need to
include agriculture, where the EU maintains a high level of protectionism.
The Rio Group is comprised of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia,
Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, along with
rotating representatives for Central America (Guatemala at this year's
summit) and the Caribbean (Guyana).

Meanwhile, at the European Council meeting in Cologne, EU leaders failed
on 31 May to win approval for a mandate for negotiating a free- trade
agreement with Mercosur. EU member states are divided over including the
agriculture sector in the talks, a Mercosur prerequisite for negotiations.
Prime Minister Aznar of Spain declared that Spain has had difficulty in
convincing France to start trade talks with Mercosur. France would like to
limit external pressures for opening European agricultural markets and
prefers to delay such negotiations until 2003. Spain which favours early
talks has nevertheless accepted a German compromise fixing the start of
negotiations with Mercosur in 2000.

In a parallel track, Mr. Peter Scher, US Special Trade Ambassador visited
Brazilian Trade Minister Luiz Felipe Lampreia, in order to ensure that
Mercosur will support US efforts for reducing EU subsidies and trade
barriers for agricultural goods. Scher even agreed to open discussions
about marked access for Brazilian agricultural goods to the US. Indeed,
despite apparent goodwill, bilateral talks about increasing Brazilian
exports have been largely inconclusive to date. For example, Brazilian
orange juice is still facing barriers to entry into the U.S. market.

Mr. Scher declared that after his talks with Brazilian, Uruguayan and
Argentinean Ministers, he has seen that Mercosur is in a position of
strength concerning agricultural issues and that it will not accept such
discussions to be excluded from a free trade agreement with the EU.

EU trade ministers will meet again on 21 June to try and bridge
differences between member states in advance of the Rio summit at the end
of this month.

  "UE adia a decisco de negociar acordo com Mercosul," O GLOBO, 5 June,
  "EU mins fail to agree on Mercosur trade talk mandate," DOW JONES, 31
May 1999; Latin America: Leaders to push for Free Trade with EU," IPS, 31
May 1999.


The WTO Committee on Trade and Development (CTD) met last week in an
uneventful session during which Members discussed applications for
observer status, review of the provisions for Special and Differential
Treatment (STD) contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements, the work
programme on electronic commerce, and the Integrated Framework for
Trade-Related Technical Assistance.

The WTO Secretariat is preparing a paper on the review of STD provisions.
This paper will focus on how Members have used the STD provisions, and
difficulties that they have encountered in seeking the application of this
kind of provisions. The Secretariat had sent out a questionnaire seeking
information on this to Members, but said in the CTD that it had only
received five replies. Thus it will base its paper mainly on what Members
have said in other WTO Committees.

Also at last week's CTD, the UN Economic Commission for Europe made a long
presentation on electronic commerce. Members discussed the contribution of
the CTD to the work programme on e-commerce, but this is not yet very far
developed. At last week's meeting there were also two presentations on the
Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance - one by the
International Trade Centre (ITC) and one by the administrative unit of the
Integrated Framework, which is administered jointly by the ITC, UNCTAD,
WTO, IMF, World Bank and UNDP.

ICTSD Internal Files.


Meeting last week at a meeting on competition policy, trade and
development for members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern
Africa (COMESA), COMESA officials warned it would challenge the
recently-concluded free trade agreement between South Africa and the EU if
the agreement is found to harm COMESA member states. The EU and S. Africa
agreed earlier this year to a free-trade agreement which is to come into
force in January 2000 and would encompass 90 percent of the US$20 billion
in annual bilateral trade. (See BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 3,
No. 12, 29 March 1999.)

''COMESA is . . .carefully examining the trade agreement and its
compatibility to the World Trade Organisation's provisions that govern
regional trade arrangements,'' COMESA Secretary-General Erastus Mwencha
said. ''Should the agreement be found incompatible with these provisions,
especially in so far as it may have negative effects on the region's
developing and least developed countries, COMESA member states may opt to
challenge its acceptability and applicability within the WTO framework,''
he added.

As part of the EU-S. Africa deal, EU goods will have access to
neighbouring Southern African Customs Union (SACU) markets. Critics within
SACU are unhappy over the seemingly lopsided market access deal struck in
the agricultural sector which would allow, critics charge, cheap,
subsidised EU agricultural exports to flow onto the S. African and SACU
markets - posing a serious threat small (and unsubsidised) farmers in S.
Africa and SACU countries. (See BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 3,
No. 18, 10 May 1999.) The five SACU countries are South Africa, Botswana,
Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland - of which the latter three are also COMESA

This follows earlier salvos fired by some COMESA members - notably Kenya,
threatening to adopt a common external tariff regime against non- COMESA
members. This would have adverse affects on S. African exports, primarily
agricultural goods. Smaller COMESA economies, however, may not be as keen
as Kenya to go after S. Africa - the region's largest economy, in a
combative manner. Kenya has threatened to take unilateral protective
measures against S. Africa if it cannot get broad COMESA support.

  "COMESA To Challenge EU, South Africa Trade Agreement," PANAFRICAN NEWS
AGENCY, 2 June 1999;
  "Kenya leads move to force South Africa to open trade and join Comesa,"
  "How free trade area will help both sides," BUSINESS TIMES (S. Africa),
16 May 1999.


The Permanent Committee on Intellectual Property Co-operation for
Development at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) last
week held its first meeting in Geneva. The main focus was on assistance to
developing nations with introducing and implementing intellectual property
protection. Developing countries have until January 2000 to bring domestic
intellectual property regimes into compliance with the WTO Agreement on
Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), a deadline
that is posing problems for many of these countries. WIPO's deputy
director general, Roberto Castello, also pointed out that poorer countries
fear they may be losing income as large multinationals take their ideas
and register them as their own.

The meeting was mostly informative, with the International Bureau (WIPO
secretariat) providing information about what it has done, and what it is
planning in the field of technical assistance to developing countries. The
meeting also provided the opportunity for WIPO members to suggest future
activities. One area in which the International Bureau was asked to do
more was that of indigenous knowledge. Latin American countries in
particular are concerned to protect traditional medicine knowledge. In
developing countries, up to eighty percent of the population still use
traditional medicine as their main type of treatment.

  "Efforts to protect intellectual property," BBC WORLD SERVICE, 2 June
  "FT guide to the week: Intellectual Property," FINANCIAL TIMES, 31 May
1999; ICTSD Internal Files.


The U.S. and the EU are expected to agree in principle on creating an
early warning system for trade disputes during their next summit, to be
held in Bonn on 21 June. Given the increasing number of trade disputes
that are currently affecting trade relations between the U.S. and the EU,
the aim is to ensure that each be informed as soon as possible of any
relevant new legislation planned by the other. This would allow them to
identify potential conflicts at an early stage and take preventive
measures. While both the EU and the U.S. governments are willing to
cooperate, the system may be difficult to implement especially in the U.S.
where, according to European officials, Congress is reluctant to involve
trading partners in the early stage of the legislative process.

 "Frohwarnsystem gegen Handelskonflikte," FRANKFURTER ALLGEMEINE ZEITUNG,
29 May 1999. 

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) - which includes Norway,
Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein, last week said it hopes to
conclude talks with Canada, Cyprus and Jordan by year's end. An agreement
with Canada would establish the first Trans-Atlantic free trade agreement.
(See BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 2, No. 21, 8 June 1998.)

 "Efta seeks accords," FINANCIAL TIMES, 31 May 1999.

The EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on 26 May
agreed to a new work programme covering wide-ranging economic co-
operation, including trade, industry, forestry, science and technology. As
part of the programme the two sides agreed to develop a regional
sustainable forestry initiative.

 "Officials to sign new work programme," BANGKOK POST, 26 May 1999.

In response to the worst food safety crisis in Europe since the outbreak
of BSE (also known as "mad cow" disease), European countries, Ghana, the
U.S., Hong Kong, South Korea and other Asian countries last week announced
temporary bans on imports of Belgian products including poultry, eggs,
milk and pork, after reports that high levels of dioxin (a carcinogen) had
been found. The crisis highlights European concern over food safety and
could heighten consumer opposition to genetically modified foods in

 "Analysts: Belgian food scare could affect GM debate," REUTERS, 3 June
  "Government Bans Belgian Poultry Products," PANAFRICAN NEWS AGENCY, 3
June 1999;
  "EU pork and poultry: Brussels attacks US block," FINANCIAL TIMES, 5
June 1999.

Officials from 150 countries are meeting in Bonn 31 May-11 June for talks
on implementing the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change. BRIDGES Weekly
Trade News Digest will report on the talks in its next issue.

  "Meeting opens to mull greenhouse gas rules," KYODO NEWS INTERNATIONAL,
31 May 1999;
  "No major decisions expected from upcoming deliberations in Bonn,"


The European Commission last week released position papers for the
upcoming WTO Ministerial and the proposed new round of trade talks. Papers
were issued on services, intellectual property, trade and competition,
duty-free market access for the least developed countries, government
procurement, trade facilitation, and trade and the environment.
 These papers may be viewed via
(Series of papers issued 2 June 1999, papers numbered WT/GC/W/189 - 195.)

The WTO last week ruled that Turkey's quantitative import restrictions on
textiles and apparel from India violates international trade rules. The
ruling found that WTO obligations supersede other tariff arrangements such
as customs unions and regional free trade agreements.

 "WTO rules against Turkey over QRs on Indian textiles," ECONOMIC TIMES, 2
June 1999.

Japan and South Korea last month announced they would adopt a common
position for WTO talks on agriculture set to begin later this year.

 "Japan, S. Korea agree to keep tandem on WTO farm talks," KYODO NEWS


David Runnalls has been confirmed as President of the International
Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in Canada. A well known
personality in the international environmental world, he has been closely
associated with Canada's IDRC and established and directed IISD's Trade
Program which formulated the pioneering Winnipeg Principles on Trade and
Sustainable Development.

William Rossier has been appointed the next Secretary-General of the
European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Mr. Rossier was most recently
Switzerland's ambassador to the WTO. "William Rossier, secretaire
general," TRIBUNE DE GENHVE, 2 June 1999.

Economist Jeffrey Sachs is to step down 1 July as director of the Harvard
Institute for International Development. Mr. Sachs will remain at Harvard
to run its Centre for International Development; a research centre devoted
to sustainable international development.
 "Sachs switch," FINANCIAL TIMES, 31 May 1999. 

Bernard T. Kuiten, currently First Secretary at the Mission of the
Netherlands in Geneva has been selected as the new Counsellor in the
External Relations Division attending relations with non-governmental
organizations. He's expected to take the post on 1 September. Former NGO
liaison officers Claude Trolliet and Peter N. Pedersen have transfered to
the Finance and Ministerial divisions, respectively.

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 
with appropriate citation. Comments and suggestions are 
welcomed an should be directed to the Editor or the 

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