(Supplemented)BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 3, Number 23 , 14 June, 1999
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- Subject: (Supplemented)BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 3, Number 23 , 14 June, 1999
- From: MichaelP <papadop@PEAK.ORG>
- Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1999 14:54:00 -0700 (PDT)
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My supplement- hot-nothing from WTO
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
GENEVA, June 16 (AFP) - World Trade Organization members on Wednesday
looked headed once again for failure in attempts to resolve deadlock over
the choice of a new director general, diplomats said.
"There will be no decision (Wednesday)," US ambassador Rita Hayes said of
the informal gathering of WTO members in Geneva.
WTO General Council chairman Ali Mchumo admitted that despite an
hours-long session he had been unable to muster a consensus around Mike
Moore, a former New Zealand prime minister, despite his wide backing for
the top job.
Mchumo revealed on Tuesday that the Thai candidacy of Supachai
Panitchpakdi also lacked consensus, and asked members to draw their own
conclusions about these results.
But hopes there would be some kind of decision Wednesday on whether to
continue the process with the two rivals or embark on a new course were
dashed as diplomats dithered on whether to move to a formal "on the
Mchumo failed to elaborate further on the blockage or make
recommendations, according to diplomats, and it was not clear when a
formal meeting, at which dcisions can be taken, would convene.
Japan's ambassador Nobutoshi Akao said that around 20 Supachai supporting
countries were in favour of starting a "new phase" with the same two men
as candiates, using "clear parameters" and in a spirit of transparency.
But similar calls for new ways to break the impasse, in particular an
Australian bid for a discreet vote, have also run up against objections.
"If there is no new process, we shall be stuck," Akao said.
There was no talk at the meeting of any new contenders to either replace
the existing rivals or join them, he said, adding: "The (present) process
will be dead the moment when new names are mentioned."
Mchumo said earlier: "We hope that there will be a decision, if not today,
Hayes repeated the standard US position that consensus took time and that
Washington still believed Moore stood a good chance since he commanded
backing from around two thirds of the trade body.
Asked whether she thought the WTO's 134 members would have to start with a
clean slate of fresh candidates, she replied: "No."
According to Mchumo, who is in charge of the selection process, Moore is
backed by 80 countries, a significant improvement from the end of April
when some 62 members came out in his favour.
Supachai in April was said to be favoured by 59 candidates, a result which
infuriated his Asian supporters who claimed that the gap was too small to
justify Mchumo's choice of building a consensus around Moore.
According to one western diplomat, only seven Southeast Asian countries
firmly object to the appointment of Moore as director general.
A statement by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations said it had not
changed its stated position rejecting Moore as the winner.
"The discrepancy between our tally and your number is such that we have
serious difficulty accepting the figure you have come up with," ASEAN
said, referring to Mchumo's latest headcount of 80 countries backing
The WTO has been without a director general since Renato Ruggiero ended
his four-year term at the end of April.
[end of supplement]
====================================== EVENTS & RESOURCES
For a more complete list of events in coming months, please refer to
ICTSD's web calendar at: www.ictsd.org/html/calendar.htm
An updated list of forthcoming WTO meetings is posted at
www.wto.org/wto/about/meets.htm. Please bear in mind that dates and
times of WTO meetings are often changed, and that the WTO does not
always announce the important informal meetings of different WTO bodies.
16 June: DISPUTE SETTLEMENT BODY.
For information contact Nuch Nazeer, WTO, (41-22) 739-5393.
15 June: GENERAL COUNCIL MEETING - on selection of new Director- General.
For information contact Keith Rockwell, (41-22) 739-5007.
16 June: COMMITTEE ON TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT.
For information contact Lucie Giraud, WTO, (41-22) 739-5075.
18 June: DISPUTE SETTLEMENT BODY - Informal Meeting on the Review of the
Dispute Settlement Understanding.
For information contact Nuch Nazeer, as above.
21 June: WORKING PARTY ON GATS RULES.
For information contact Nuch Nazeer, as above.
22 June: SPECIAL GENERAL COUNCIL (on 3rd Ministerial Conference).
For information contact Nuch Nazeer, as above.
17-18 June, Miami, Florida: SECOND MEETING OF THE FTAA COMMITTEE OF
GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES ON CIVIL SOCIETY. This Committee receives
inputs from civil society, analyses them and presents the range of views
to the FTAA Trade Ministers.
For information contact the FTAA Secretariat, 100 Chopin Plaza, Plaza
Level, Miami, Florida 33131-2140 U.S.A., tel: (1-305) 381-9043, email:
firstname.lastname@example.org, web: http://alca-ftaa.org/
22 June, Brussels: EC MEETING WITH NGOs, on preparations of the next WTO
negotations. The meeting, a "transparency exercise," is intended to be an
update of previous meetings on issues of interest to EC negotiators.
NGOs who have not been invited and who wish to attend the meeting should
urgently contact H. Jouanjean, Director DG I, Directorate G, European
Commision, tel: (32-2) 299-2210, fax: 296-6614. If you have comments or
suggestions regarding the agenda of the meeting, contact: ICDA, rue Stevin
15, 1000 Brussels, tel: (32-2) 230- 0430, fax: (32-2) 230-5237, email:
28-29 June, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: FORO DE LA SOCIEDAD CIVIL PARA EL
DIALOGO EUROPA, AMIRICA LATINA Y CARIBE. This Civil Society Meeting is
organised in conjunction with the EU-Mercosur Summit.
For information contact Alianza Social Continental, email:
ASD@datastrategia.com, web: http://datastrategia.com/asd/
15-18 July, Jaipur, India: CAPACITY BUILDING SEMINAR ON MULTILATERAL
TRADE, INVESTMENT AND COMPETITION POLICY - CURRENT STATUS AND FUTURE
AGENDA. Hosted by the CUTS Centre for International Trade, Economics and
The seminar will address issues pertaining to investment and competition
policy vis-a-vis developing and least developed countries. It is organised
with a view to the necessity of empowering civil society on trade and
economic policy issues in the South and Eastern African region and the
SAARC region, and promoting South-South co-operation amongst civil
For information contact K.S. Sajeev or Raghav Narsalay at CUTS, Jaipur,
India, tel: (91-141) 202-940/ 205-802, fax: 202-968/203-998, email:
email@example.com, web: www.cuts.org
21 July, Washington, DC: TRADE VS. AID: A WOMEN'S EDGE, (COALITION FOR
WOMEN'S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND GLOBAL EQUALITY) OPEN MEETING. U.S. aid
and development programs are under increasing pressure to use development
programs/projects to open markets and create a more receptive atmosphere
for foreign investment. How is this working? What are the benefits of this
new framework? The constraints? How is gender incorporated into the
"opening of markets" and policy reforms?
For information contact Women's EDGE, 1825 Connecticut Avenue, NW, suite
800, Washington DC 20009, tel: (1-202) 884-8396, email:
firstname.lastname@example.org, web: http://www.womensedge.org/
17-21 October, Glasgow, Scotland: THIRD GLOBAL CONFERENCE BUILDING BRIDGES
OF PEACE, CULTURE AND PROSPERITY THROUGH SUSTAINABLE TOURISM. Organised by
the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT). This
conference aims to identify, encourage and develop tourism initiatives
that will contribute to sustainable human, social, cultural and economic
development in the 21st Century. Particular emphasis will be placed on
building two-way bridges among developed, developing and emerging
economies of the world.
To register contact IIPT, 42 Silverknowes Road, Edinburgh EH4 5LF,
Scotland, tel: (44-131) 312-7332, fax: 312-7336, email:
email@example.com, web: http://www.iipt.org/conference/index.html
27 November, Seattle, Washington: THE INTERNATIONAL FORUM ON GLOBALIZATION
(IFG) TEACH-IN ON THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION. The event will take place
at the 2,500-seat Benaroya Seattle Symphony Hall a few days before the WTO
Ministerial meeting. The Seattle Teach-In will focus on the problems of
economic globalisation and, specifically, on the activities of the WTO and
other international agreements and institutions.
For information contact the International Forum on Globalization, 1555
Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94109, tel: (1- 415) 771-3394, fax:
771-1121, web: http://www.ifg.org
GROWTH OF THE 'MAQUILA' INDUSTRY IN LATIN AMERICA. The second in a series
of six Special Reports published by Latin American Newsletters is now
available at a special discount for email delivery. The 'maquila' or
assembly industry has experienced spectacular growth in Latin America.
This report reviews the development and prospects of assembly industries
and free zones throughout the region. The report is available by email
delivery for US$50 (regular price US$98).
To order, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send a cheque
made payable to Lettres (UK) Ltd to: 61 Old Street, London, EC1V 9HW
The Society for World Sustainable Development (SWSD) and The World
Congress have launched a new website: http://members.home.net/g.dufour
Inter alia, the site contains information about the Global Community
Organisation; the World Congress on Managing and Measuring Sustainable
Development to be held in Kananaskis Village, 17-22 August, 2000; the
Society for World Sustainable Development (SWSD); Sponsorship Opportunity
and Professional Qualifications; and Newsletters.
ECOTOURISM AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: WHO OWNS PARADISE?, Martha Honey,
Island Press, 1999. This book lays out the history and the principles of
this brand of tourism that, at its best, minimises impact on ecosystems
and empowers local people. ISBN: 1559635819. Hardcover: $US 50.00;
paperback: $US 20.00.
Can be ordered online via http://www.amazon.com
Table of Contents
- Bonn Climate Talks: EU, U.S. Inflexible On Flexible Mechanisms
- WTO General Council's Busy Schedule
- India To Push For Reform Not Expansion Of WTO Agreements
- GMOs: Consumer's Right To Know Poses Challenges
- TBT Committee Discusses Labelling, Standards
- U.S. Calls For Precautionary Approach To Belgian Food Imports
- U.S. Steel Makers Rail Against Foreign Imports
- WTO Members Confirm Interest In Competition Policy
- In Brief
- WTO In Brief
- On the Move
- Events & Resources
BONN CLIMATE TALKS: EU, U.S. INFLEXIBLE ON FLEXIBLE MECHANISMS
Officials from 150 countries met in Bonn from 31 May-11 June on
implementing the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change. The Bonn talks -
the tenth sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological
Advice (SBSTA-10) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI-10) -
were held to prepare the agenda for the fifth Conference of the Parties to
the Climate Change Convention (COP-5) to be held in Bonn from 25 October -
The Kyoto Protocol--adopted in December 1997 but not yet in force,
requires industrial nations to collectively reduce greenhouse gas
emissions to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-2112.
Much of the discussion in Bonn the last two weeks focused on how so-
called Kyoto mechanisms (often referred to as flexible mechanisms) should
work and how they might be used to meet Kyoto emissions reduction goals.
(See BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 2, No. 44, 16 Nov. 1998.) Kyoto
mechanisms include emissions trading, technology transfer and the
so-called Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) which is supposed to transfer
money and technology to developing nations to fund energy efficiency,
resulting in cost- efficient greenhouse gas reductions.
Also on the agenda was the development of reporting mechanisms for base-
lining national emissions inventories and reduction progress, and
mechanisms to ensure compliance with the Kyoto Protocol.
The EU stressed the need to ensure that the Kyoto mechanisms are
supplemental to domestic actions (e.g. an energy tax or other policies)
and do not undermine the spirit of the Kyoto Protocol. Towards this, the
EU argued in favour of a defined ceiling or "cap" on the use of the Kyoto
mechanisms in countries' emissions reduction portfolio. The EU wants a 50
percent ceiling on Kyoto mechanisms, with the balance of emissions
reductions to be derived from the development of new technologies,
processes and changes in consumer behaviour.
The U.S., Japan, Australia, Russia, Norway, Canada and New Zealand opposed
the EU proposal. Placing a ceiling on the mechanisms, these countries
said, could reduce the flow of new resources to developing countries,
impede the cost effectiveness of the mechanisms, and make it difficult to
sell the Kyoto Protocol to domestic constituencies. No agreement was
reached on this issue at the Bonn meeting.
With respect to the CDM in particular, the Group of 77 developing
countries and China stressed that the recipient country of CDM funds
should be the sole judge of whether a project meets its sustainable
Meanwhile, a report released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) last
week warned that implementing the concrete ceiling on Kyoto mechanisms as
the EU suggests would result in a loss of economic efficiency compared
with an "unfettered global trading scheme". The report notes as well that
the cap could reduce revenues available to developing countries under the
Observers note that due to the technically and politically complex nature
of this phase of the Kyoto implementation talks, no major developments are
expected to emerge from COP-5 later this year.
"EU, U.S. split at Bonn talks over caps on Kyoto's flexible mechanisms;"
"Finnish EU Presidency to continue push for harmonized unionwide energy
tax," INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT REPORTER, 9 June 1999;
"EU climate trading plan under scrutiny," ENDS, 7 June 1999;
"Summary of the Tenth Session of the FCCC Subsidiary Bodies: 31 May - 11
June1999," EARTH NEGOTIATIONS BULLETIN (IISD), 14 June 1999.
WTO GENERAL COUNCIL'S BUSY SCHEDULE
The WTO General Council will have met several times this month to fulfil
three different functions with which it is currently entrusted. In
addition to carrying out its regular business (General Council Meeting of
16 June), it will meet on the issue of selection of a new Director-General
(15 June) and to prepare the Third Ministerial Meeting (in an informal
meeting of its Special Session on 7-8 June, and in formal meeting on 22
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest will report on all these aspects of the
General Council's work in its next issue.
INDIA TO PUSH FOR REFORM NOT EXPANSION OF WTO AGREEMENTS
India, which took part two weeks ago in a Budapest Ministerial meeting of
the so- called "Friends of the New Round" group of developed and
developing countries, last week said it would use the Third WTO
Ministerial to push for the revision of key WTO agreements, in order to
better address the needs of developing countries. India submitted four
position papers to the 7-8 June WTO Informal General Council meeting on
preparations for the Third WTO Ministerial (scheduled for 30 November-3
December in Seattle). India said it wants revisions to the Agreement on
Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, the Agreement on Sanitary and
Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement), the Agreement on Trade- Related
Investment Measures (TRIMs), and the Agreement on Implementation of
Article VI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade of 1994 - which
addresses anti- dumping measures.
On the SPS Agreement, India argued that arbitrary and restrictive
application of SPS measures to developing countries' agricultural exports
is a major barrier to trade. India proposed that the SPS Agreement be
revised to provide longer time frames for developing countries to comply
with domestic SPS measures. Further, India said that developing countries'
participation in international standardisation activities (e.g. Codex
Alimentarius) "has been limited and ineffective" and called for broader
representation on global standardisation bodies.
India argued the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures is
skewed in favour of developed countries. India noted that subsidies
favourable to developed countries (e.g. agricultural subsidies) are
"non-actionable" under dispute settlement procedures. India said it would
push for the list of non-actionable subsidies to be expanded to include
subsidies benefiting developing countries.
Regarding investment, India said the existing WTO TRIMs Agreement should
be amended to allow developing countries to continue using
domestic-content and export-performance requirements on foreign direct
investment projects. These are currently set to be phased out by January
In related news, the U.S. last week submitted a request for consultations
with India over its auto policy. The U.S. said that India's domestic
content rules and required minimum export commitments violate Article 8 of
TRIMs and other trade rules. The EU and Japan have previously filed
complaints at the WTO against India's auto policy.
The U.S. and India will later this month hold consultations on India's
plans to phase out quantitative import restrictions (QRs). The WTO ruled
in April that India could not justify QRs by citing balance of payments
problems. (See BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 3, No. 13- 14, 12
April 1999). India is expected to ask for longer than the 15 months
generally allowed under dispute settlement rules to comply with the
ruling, wanting to delay its phase-out of key QRs until at least 2002. A
press report in Banagalore's DECCAN HERALD warned the ruling could fuel
further domestic opposition to globalisation. The piece noted that the WTO
dispute settlement process must be made more transparent and further, must
take into account the interests of weaker economies.
"Hegde calls for balanced agenda at Seattle," THE HINDU, 30 May 1999;
"India urges revision of WTO agreements on antidumping, subsidies,
investment," INTERNATIONAL TRADE REPORTER, 9 June 1999;
"Skewed path: the WTO verdict against trade curbs has left India
rudderless," DECCAN HERALD, 7 June 1999:
"US to move WTO forum over India's automobile policy," ECONOMIC TIMES,
24 May 1999.
ICTSD Internal Files
GMOS: CONSUMER'S RIGHT TO KNOW POSES CHALLENGES
The food crisis over Belgian farm products contaminated with dioxin (see
related story in this issue) could invigorate European consumers' lack of
confidence in their governments' food safety controls - a factor sure to
fuel consumer opposition to genetically modified foodstuffs (GMOs). The
U.S. has argued that it is this lack of confidence in the EU food-safety
infrastructure that is fuelling consumer opposition to GMOs in Europe.
"Rather than a single, co-ordinated regulatory system . . . there are 15
different systems and the EU system operating throughout Europe," Mr
Rominger told the International Grains Council in London last week. "The
result is a system that is not open, transparent or predictable and takes
up to two years or more to clear a biotech product, compared to nine
months in the U.S."
In an attempt to streamline the EU GMO infrastructure, Germany last month
proposed that the EU should create a semi-independent, centralised
authority to issue authorisations for growing and marketing GMOs. The
biotechnology industry has long supported this approach. However, other EU
members had little support for the proposal. According to one EU official,
"It's a very attractive idea to get a more efficient system, but
politically the idea is dead. People want to be informed about what is
happening [as regards GMO licences] and to put the responsibility entirely
in the hands of a new authority would not be acceptable to public
In France, the need for strict controls over GMOs in the food supply chain
was highlighted at a workshop on GMO labelling attended by a cross-section
of the food sector. Essentially, the labelling decision could force the
development of an alternative or parallel food supply chain, which
observers warn may not be viable. At present, the inability to segregate
GMO products from non-GMO products and the lack of standardisation in
GMO-detection methods makes GMO labelling schemes difficult.
Meanwhile in Portugal, members of Quercus, a leading environmental group
there, protested outside Portugal's consumer affairs ministry last month
demanding that foodstuffs containing GMOs be labelled as such. A Quercus
spokesperson added that "Quercus and many other environmental groups are
not against GMO foods, but we are against the way they are reaching the
"Commodities & agriculture: European system blamed for GM food
distrust," FINANCIAL TIMES, 11 June 1999;
"OK to gene tinkering, despite potential misuse," IPS, 9 June 1999;
"Germany moots single EU GMO permit authority" ENDS, 27 May 1999;
"Portuguese environmentalists urge GM food labelling;" "French
agriculture mulls GMO labelling for food," REUTERS, May 1999;
"Les aliments trangeniques divisent les entreprises de grande
distribution," LE MONDE, 8 June 1999.
TBT COMMITTEE DISCUSSES LABELLING, STANDARDS
At the 10-11 June meeting of the WTO's Committee on Technical Barriers to
Trade (TBT), Members again discussed the European Union's regulation
1139/98 which requires products containing genetically modified soya or
maize to be labelled as such. The U.S. and Canada raised the issue,
stating inter alia their dissatisfaction with the scientific grounds on
which the EU bases its distinction between genetically modified and other
products. The U.S. also submitted a compilation of eleven notifications of
product-labelling schemes under the TBT Agreement. This compilation refers
to schemes introduced by countries including Japan, New Zealand, Australia
and Norway which require labelling of genetically modified products or
Last week's TBT Committee was preceded by a two-day symposium on
Conformity Assessment Procedures (CAPs) (referred to in Articles 5 - 9 of
the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade). As traditional barriers
to trade have fallen, standards, technical regulations, and procedures for
assessing conformity have become increasingly important as nontariff
barriers to trade. But relatively little is known about the extent and
nature of those barriers and even less about their quantitative impact,
especially in developing countries. To facilitate trade, regional
initiatives on standards and conformity assessment appear to be more
promising than a multilateral approach because of the greater trust and
commonality of interest at the regional level.
The objective of the symposium was to deepen Members' understanding of the
issues involved, such as the various approaches for the recognition of the
results of CAPs, the role of international and regional systems for
conformity assessment, and how to assist developing countries in building
CAP capacity. The symposium was attended by a variety of players in this
field, including intergovernmental organisations and bodies such as the
Forest Stewardship Council.
The TBT Committee itself picked up on issues raised in the symposium. One
issue that Members had discussed before and returned to last week was that
relating to agreeing on criteria for determining which bodies can be
recognised as standardising bodies. Up until now, the U.S. and the EU had
very different positions on this - the U.S. having a more market-driven
approach, with many bodies (including from the private sector) being able
to set standards. The EU wants a more structured approach. Japan has now
tabled a proposal on this subject and as the representative of one WTO
Member told BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest, "we are moving towards
better clarity on what can be a standards body recognised by the TBT."
"WTO symposium on conformity assessment procedures - Chair's summary
report," on WTO website;
" Standards and Conformity Assessment as Nontariff Barriers to Trade,"
Development Research Group, World Bank, Sept. 1997;
ICTSD Internal Files.
U.S. CALLS FOR PRECAUTIONARY APPROACH TO BELGIAN FOOD IMPORTS
Last week countries around the world banned imports of beef, pork, dairy
and poultry products from Belgium and other European countries after
reports that high levels of dioxin (a carcinogen) had been found in
Belgian farm products. Thailand, Hong Kong, Russia, Egypt, Ghana, Cote
d'Ivoire, Hungary, Brazil, Argentina and a host of other countries imposed
temporary bans on Belgian food imports, and in some cases extended the ban
to products from France and the Netherlands.
EU officials called exaggerated and unnecessary the decision taken by a
few countries including the U.S., Malaysia and Egypt to ban all EU pork
and poultry products. EU officials urged governments around the world to
base decisions to ban European farm products on facts rather than hype.
Belgian and EU officials said that there is no evidence that food
contaminated with dioxin was shipped to countries outside Europe. For
observers of the long-standing trade disputes between the EU and U.S. over
food safety (e.g. over hormone-treated beef and genetically modified
organisms), the irony was apparent as EU officials urged science-based
decision making and U.S. government and farm industry officials spoke of
taking necessary precautions to guard consumer health.
It is expected that exports from Belgium will resume this week after the
government provides a definitive list of the farms involved and food
producers can document that their products do not contain product
originating from those operations.
"EUROPE: EU faces growing food export bans," FINANCIAL TIMES, 8 June
"EU seeks to limit range of Egyptian foodstuffs ban," DOW JONES, 9 June
"Amid Scare, Asians extend bans on food from Europe," INTERNATIONAL
HERALD TRIBUNE, 9 June 1999;
"Les consommateurs americains sont eux aussi inquiets," LA TRIBUNE, 7
"Global food panic," JOURNAL OF COMMERCE, 9 June 1999.
U.S. STEEL MAKERS RAIL AGAINST FOREIGN IMPORTS
U.S. steel companies earlier this month filed anti-dumping and
countervailing duties complaints against 12 countries, which U.S. steel
makers say are selling cold-rolled steel products at unfairly low prices
on the U.S. market. The steel companies filed their complaints with the
U.S. Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade Commission.
Anti-dumping complaints were filed against Argentina, Brazil, China,
Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, Slovakia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and
Venezuela. Countervailing duty petitions were filed against Brazil,
Indonesia, Thailand and Venezuela. Previous complaints have been filed
against Russia. U.S. steel makers argue that currency devaluations in many
of these countries as a result of regional economic crisis have helped to
accelerate exports. The U.S. and Brazil last week reached an agreement to
suspend the anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases against Brazilian
In related news, U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin last week urged
Congress to drop a proposed bill limiting steel imports, warning that
passage of the bill would create "a real risk of strengthening the already
protectionist pressure being felt around the world."
Meanwhile, Egypt's state-owned Helwan Steel and Iron Company is facing
stiff competition from cheap imports of foreign steel. Last year Egypt
imposed a 15-20 percent anti-dumping duty against steel imports. Despite
this, Helwan - Egypt's second-largest steel manufacturer, has shut down
production lines and laid off workers unable to compete effectively
against cheaper steel imports from Turkey, Romania, Ukraine and Saudi
Arabia. Helwan's production slowdown could open the door wider to steel
imports from these countries as Egypt contends with a steel shortage.
"Petitioners reject U.S.-Brazil suspension agreements on steel," INSIDE
US TRADE, 11 June 1999;
"Brazil steel industry dissatisfied over new U.S. accord," DOW JONES, 9
"Rubin warns against protectionist measures," KYODO NEWS INTERNATIONAL,
9 June 1999;
"US groups file 12 dumping complaints," FINANCIAL TIMES, 3 June 1999;
"Egyptian steel bows to stiff competition," AFRICA ANALYSIS, 28 May
WTO MEMBERS CONFIRM INTEREST IN COMPETITION POLICY
WTO's work on competition policy is continuing according to the work
programme agreed by the General Council for the Working Group on the
Interaction Between Trade and Competition Policy. According to the work
programme, the Working Group should focus on (i) the relevance of
fundamental WTO principles of national treatment, transparency, and
most-favoured nation treatment to competition policy and vice-versa; (ii)
approaches to promoting co-operation and communication among Members,
including in the field of technical co-operation, and (iii) the
contribution of competition policy to achieving the objectives of the WTO.
A dozen new submission were before the Working Group when it met last
week. This, and the number of delegations present at the Working Group
reflects the continued interest of Members on the subject. Participants in
last week's meeting say that there was a good discussion on all 3 agenda
items, and that the Working Group's work is still very much at an
exploratory stage. There has also been discussion amongst Members in the
context of preparations for the next Ministerial, on whether to include
competition policy as a subject for further work in the context of a new
Round of multilateral trade negotiations that might be launched at the
Ministerial in Seattle at the end of the year. Canada, New Zealand,
Switzerland, the EU, Japan, Brazil and Chile are amongst those in favour
of including talks on competition policy in a new round, while India,
Egypt and Malaysia are amongst those who oppose it. The U.S. and Australia
are amongst those who have not expressed a view on the issue.
The Working Group will next meet early in September.
ICTSD Internal Files.
Chinese trade officials criticised an EU decision to impose from 10 June
quarantine standards on imports of Chinese products with wood packaging.
Chinese officials say the EU decision violates a bilateral trade agreement
and could affect over US$7 billion of exports from the mainland to EU
member countries. A measure restricting these same imports had already
been taken by the U.S. and notified to the SPS Committee in February.
"Beijing criticises EU over new wood- packaging controls, CHINA NEWS
DIGEST, 11 June 1999. ICTSD Internal Files.
Korean trade officials last week said they were hopeful the EU would agree
to Korean automakers' plan for reducing auto emissions. No details of the
Korean plan were released. The EU previously warned it could impose
binding restrictions on imports of Korean autos unless progress is made in
negotiations over an auto emissions reduction program. (See BRIDGES Weekly
Trade News Digest Vol. 3, No. 1-2, 18 January, 1999.)
"Korean car makers "set to accept" CO2 cuts," ENS, 7 June 1999.
At the International Conference on Occupational Health last week The World
Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO)
warned that the increasing transfer of industrial production to low-cost
sites in developing countries lacking worker protections is likely to
increase the global incidence of occupational disease and injury. The two
agencies called for immediate, "ethically correct and economically sound"
measures to improve the working conditions of the world's labour force.
"Globalisation bad for health, say UN agencies," FINANCIAL TIMES, 10 June
Japanese electronics firm Fujitsu recently announced that its
"environmentally friendly expenditures" had yielded about US$33 million in
economic benefits in 1998, as calculated using an environmental accounting
model. Sony Corp. is expected to soon release its own accounting of
benefits derived from environmental protections.
"Japanese companies respond to green groups," IPS, 7 June 1999.
Over 120 financial service executives from Africa, Asia, Amerca and Europe
met in Oslo, Norway with UNEP last week. Entitled "Natural Capital at
Risk," last week's annual meeting of UNEP's Insuance Industry Initiative
was to explore linkages between critical environmetnal issues and economic
effects of environmental issues.
"Insurance and finance companies take next step on environment and
climate change," The Gallon Environment Letter, Vol. 3, No. 18, 14 June
International, government, NGO and business organisations have formed a
partnership to develop an internationally- sanctioned mechanism to measure
and report corporate greenhouse gas emissions. The group's members' such
as UNEP, Royal Dutch/Shell, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, WWF, the World
Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable
Development. According to a joint statement by WRI and WBCSD, "the
ultimate success of the initiative is developing a robust and practical
tool that is widely used by companies and others to measure and manage
their greenhouse gas emissions. The new grouping aims to reach agreement
on unresolved issues such as how a reporting entity is defined and how to
relate to national reporting and emissions inventory schemes.
WRI/WBCSD Press Release, 14 June 1999.
WTO IN BRIEF
In a joint paper submitted to the 7-8 June WTO General Council meeting,
Kenya, Jamaica, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia called
for a review of the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual
Property (TRIPs Agreement) to ensure access to pharmaceuticals. The seven
countries said that unless the right to compulsory licensing of
pharmaceuticals is safeguarded (addressed in Article 31 of the TRIPS
Agreement), people in developing countries could have to pay unreasonably
or prohibitively high prices for pharmaceuticals. WHO and international
NGOs such as Health Action International, have been working on these front
for several years to help countries better understand the linkages between
the TRIPs provisions, R&D costing, price formation, and national
sovereignty on pharmaceutical policies.
"Seven developing nations urge TRIPs review to ensure compulsory
licensing for drugs," INTERNATIONAL TRADE REPORTER, 9 June 1999. ICTSD
A WTO General Council meeting to discuss the appointment of a new
Director-General scheduled for 10 June was cancelled. Members are now
expected to meet on 15 June to try and break an impasse between Members
over the next WTO head.
"Disagreement makes informal vote on WTO director general unlikely,"
INSIDE US TRADE, 11 June 1999.
ON THE MOVE
Dr. John Cuddy has been appointed as Director of International Trade in
Goods and Services and Commodities at the U.N. Conference on Trade and
Development - UNCTAD. Dr. Cuddy, a Harvard and Cambridge University
trained economist, had been Sustainable Development Coordinator at UNCTAD
for several years.
The International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) for greenhouse
gases was launched on 4 June in London, UK. IETA's mission is to be an
independent, not- for-profit association dedicated to "the development and
establishment of effective market-based trading systems" that are "fair,
open, efficient, accountable and consistent across national boundaries"
for business. It will, inter alia, seek to promote the speedy resolution
of international negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol's flexible mechanisms.
(See related story, this issue). The organisation, which will be based in
Geneva, clearly sees its role to be a business voice influencing national
governments and the Conference of Parties process.
"GHG emissions trading group launched in London," The Gallon Environment
Letter, Vol. 3, No. 18, 14 June 1999.
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