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BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 3, Number 24 21 June, 1999





EVENTS & RESOURCES

EVENTS

For a more complete list of events, 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 WTO does not 
always announce the important informal meetings of different WTO bodies.

21 June: DISPUTE SETTLEMENT BODY, informal meeting on DSU review. 
  For information contact Nuch Nazeer, WTO, (41-22) 739-5393.

22 June: COUNCIL ON TRADE IN SERVICES. 
  For information contact Nuch Nazeer, as above.

24 June: COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE. 
  For information contact Peter Ungphakorn, WTO, (41-22) 739-5412.

24 June: DISPUTE SETTLEMENT BODY, informal meeting on DSU review. 
  For information contact Nuch Nazeer, as above.

24 June: COUNCIL ON TRADE IN SERVICES, meeting on electronic commerce. 
  For information contact Jean-Guy Carrier, WTO, (41-22) 739-5429.

Other Events

27-28 June, Banff, Canada: MEETING OF THE COUNCIL OF THE COMMISSION FOR
ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION (CEC). The environment ministers for Canada,
Mexico and the U.S., are all expected to attend. There will, inter alia,
be a public session and a round table on CEC program initiatives.
 For detailed information on the agenda see: http://cec.org/new/  For
information contact Corrie Castello, CEC Secretariat (until 25 June): 393
rue Saint-Jacques Ouest, Bureau 200, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H2Y 1N9,
tel: (1-514) 350-4338; (from 26 June): The Rimrock Hotel Banff, Alberta,
tel: (1-403) 760-5529, email: ccastell@ccemtl.org, web: http://www.cec.org

1 July, Geneva: UNCTAD - TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT BOARD. Twenty-first
executive session.
  For information contact Alisa Clarke, email: alisa.clarke@unctad.org,
tel: (41-22) 917-1234, or visit
http://www.unctad.org/en/special/tb21ag.htm

1-2 July, University of Leeds, UK: ECO-MANAGEMENT AND AUDITING CONFERENCE.
Includes a Symposium on Culture, Organisations and the Environment: Change
and the Implementation of Environemental Management Systems. The
conference provides a forum for the dissemination of research findings,
practical guidance and case studies associated with the implementation and
experiences of environmental management systems and associated corporate
environmental management tools. Cost: #250.00. 
   For information contact Elaine White, ERP Environment, P.O. Box 75, 
Shipley, West Yorkshire, BD17 6EZ UK, tel: (44-127) 453-0408, fax: 453- 
0409, email: lainewhite@erpenvironment.org, web: 
http://www.erpenvironment.org/cfrence/ema.htm

7 July, Geneva: UNCTAD - EXPERT MEETING ON ON THE IMPACT OF CHANGING
SUPPLY-AND-DEMAND MARKET STRUCTURES ON COMMODITY PRICES AND EXPORTS OF
MAJOR INTEREST TO DEVELOPING COUNTRIES.
  For information contact Alisa Clarke, email: alisa.clarke@unctad.org,
tel: (41-22) 917-1234.

9 July, Geneva (to be confirmed): WTO NGO BRIEFING on preparations for the
WTO's Third Ministerial Meeting, to be held at the end of this year in
Seattle.
 For information, contact Peter Pedersen, WTO, tel: (41- 22) 739 5848,
email: peter.pederson@wto.org

12-16 July, Rome, Italy: SIXTH SESSION OF THE PRIOR INFORMED CONSENT (PIC)
ROTTERDAM CONVENTION.
  For information contact Linda Durkee, UNEP Chemicals, Geneva,
Switzerland, tel: (41-22) 917-8511.

25-27 July, Sco Paulo, Brazil: REGIONAL LATIN AMERICAN CONFERENCE OF THE
ILA: "MERCOSUR, HUMAN RIGHTS AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT". Hosted by the
Brazilian branch of the International Law Association.
  For information contact Cerne Consultoria de Eventos, Av. Brig. Fario
Lima, 1685, cj. 1B, 1 andar 01452-001, Sco Paulo, SP Brazil, tel: (55-11)
212- 7904, fax: 814-1518, email: cerne@uol.com.br

2-4 August, Harare, Zimbabwe: 11TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE AFRICAN
SOCIETY OF INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE LAW: "AFRICA AND THE CHALLENGE OF
GLOBALISATION ON THE EVE OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM". Hosted by ASICL.
 For information contact Society Secretariat, 402 Holloway Road, London N7
6PZ England, (44-171) 609-3800, fax: 609-5400, email: asicl@compuserve.com

29-30 October, Berlin, Germany: THE TRANSATLANTIC BUSINESS DIALOGUE
CONFERENCE. An annual meeting between leaders of international business
and senior European and American trade decision-makers to develop joint
EU-US trade policy recommendations.
  For information contact Lisa Schroeter, Xerox US TABD Office, 1401 H
Street NW, Washington, DC 20006, tel: (1-202) 414-1298, fax: (1-202)
414-1217, web: http://www.tabd.com/

RESOURCES

ECO-AMIRICAS. A monthly publication on development and the environment in
Latin America. Available in print at: Fourth Street Press, 1424 4th
Street, Suite 605, Santa Monica, CA 90401, US, tel: (1-310) 451-5630, fax:
451-8758, email: ecoamericas@fspress.com. Also available online at:
http://www.ecoamericas.com. One-year subscription rate is $US 225.00.
Language: English.

ONLINE COMPENDIUM OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT INDICATOR INITIATIVES AND
PUBLICATIONS. Hosted by the International Institute for Sustainable
Development. Jointly funded by Environment Canada, the World Bank and
IISD, the compendium is a source of information on integrated socio-
economic and environmental performance measurement. To access the
compendium or to make contributions contact IISD, 161 Portage Avenue East,
6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3B 0Y4, tel: (1-204) 958- 7700,
fax: 958-7710, email: info@iisd.ca, web: iisd.ca/measure/compindex.asp

ECONOMICS AND POLICY ISSUES OF CLIMATE CHANGE. This book assesses economic
and social aspects of climate change in the 1995 report issued by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The book seeks to bridge the
gap between analytical specialists on one hand and decision- makers and
their technical advisors on the other. Available from Michael Tebo, Public
Affairs Manager, Resources for the Future, 1616 P Street NW, Washington DC
20036-1400, US, email: tebo@rff.org, web: http://www.rff.org

INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION POLICIES AND THE NEW TRADE AGENDA. Discussion
paper from the Royal Institute of International Affairs International
Programme. December 1998. #7.50. To order contact Plymbridge Distributors
Limited, tel: (44-175) 220-2301, fax: 220-2333, email:
plym@plym.eunet.co.uk.
  For information on the International Economics Programme contact RIIA,
tel: (44-171) 957-5742, email: iep-ch@riia.org, web:
http://www.riia.org/iep.html






Table of Contents                           

- G-8 Urges Environment Considerations In Millennium Round
- General Council Continues Ministerial Preparations
- General Council Decides LDC MFN Waiver; NGO Accreditation For Seattle
- Clinton Urges Deeper ILO-WTO Co-operation
- Mercosur Takes Steps Toward Deeper Union
- WTO Dispute Settlement Update
- Committee on Trade and Development Discusses Ministerial Preparations
- In Brief
- WTO In Brief



G-8 URGES ENVIRONMENT CONSIDERATIONS IN MILLENNIUM ROUND

Meeting in Cologne, Germany this past weekend, leaders from the Group of
Eight leading industrialised countries (G-8) called for environmental
considerations to be "fully taken into account" in the next round of WTO
trade talks. In the G-8 communique, ministers also said they were
committed to "a science-based, rules-based approach" to biotechnology
trade, yet did not endorse a proposal offered by French President Jacques
Chirac to establish a global High Scientific Council for Food Safety which
would "study and validate" new products and processes on a voluntary
basis.

Britain, Germany and Italy supported the French idea but the U.S. and
Canada expressed opposition to the global food safety body, arguing that
food safety is adequately addressed under WTO rules. The G-8 did agree to
study the issue further under the auspices of the Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Working Group on
Harmonisation of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology.

The OECD Working Group, coincidentally, met 6-9 June at which time it
announced that mutually acceptable data on GMOs has not produced identical
environmental or health and safety risk assessments. To address this the
Working Group said its new work plan will include a study on the risk
assessment criteria and methodology used across the 29 OECD countries. As
at the G-8 meet, OECD countries disagree over harmonised regulatory
oversight of GMOs although they did agree to form a Task Force on Novel
Foods and Feed, which will meet for the first time in September 1999. The
Working Group also announced a workshop for later this year in Norway to
discuss environmental issues associated with the release into the
environment of genetically modified trees.

Also at the G-8 meeting, ministers agreed to a US$70 billion debt relief
plan for the world's heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs). The package
will reduce the target for countries' debt-to-export ratios from 200 per
cent or more to 150 per cent, and reduce the ratio of debt to government
revenue from 280 per cent to 250 per cent for countries that export at
least 30 per cent of their national income and raise 15 per cent in tax
revenue.

Organisations leading global campaigns for debt relief acknowledged the
action was a breakthrough for the G-8 grouping, but noted that the US$70
billion package would still not be enough to meet the UN target of halving
the number of people living in absolute poverty by 2015. "There are only
six or seven HIPCs that would meet the criterion [the G-8 laid out], so
essentially they've found a clever way of excluding them,'' Kevin Watkins
of Oxfam said.

Coinciding with the G-8 meeting, protests against globalisation and
unbridled capitalism were expected to take place last week in different
cities around the world. In India, the National Alliance of Peoples
Movements comprised of peasants and farmers were expected to protest WTO
policies and effects on India's poor. The Continental Caravan-99 (ICC-99),
a group of 500 farmers from India and other countries arrived in Cologne
on 17 June to hold protests against the G-8 Summit. A protest in London
organised by a number of environmental and anti- poverty groups turned
violent as protestors vandalised businesses and clashed with police in
London's financial district.

 "G8 lukewarm on plan for food body," FINANCIAL TIMES, 21 June 1999;
   "OECD to continue harmonisation work despite differing policies among
members," INTERNATIONAL TRADE REPORTER, 16 June 1999;
   "G-7 leaders reach debt-relief accord at Cologne summit," INTERNATIONAL
HERALD TRIBUNE, 19 June 1999;
   "International crisis to shut out trade at G-8 summit in Cologne,"
INSIDE US TRADE, 18 June 1999;
   "Campaigners seek better deal," ECONOMIC TIMES, 13 June 1999;
   "Inter-Continental Caravan Reaches Cologne for G8 Summit," PGA PRESS
RELEASE, 16 June, 1999.






GENERAL COUNCIL CONTINUES MINISTERIAL PREPARATIONS

While proposals for inclusion in the Seattle Ministerial Declaration are
flowing in at an increasing speed, the General Council has met twice in
Special Session this month to continue preparations for the WTO Third
Ministerial Conference, to be held at the end of this year in Seattle. On
7-8 June, Members met in an informal meeting of the Special Session of the
General Council. These informal meetings are intended to allow interaction
among Members on issues up for discussion in the context of Ministerial
preparations. A wide range of issues were raised during this meeting and
only a selection of these will be covered here. Readers will find a more
detailed report on Ministerial preparations in BRIDGES Between Trade and
Sustainable Development, Year 3, No. 5, June 1999 (forthcoming).

There was a long discussion of a paper submitted by Zambia on behalf of
several developing countries. This paper sets out a number of proposals on
almost all the main issues of concern to developing countries, such as
implementation, market access and preferential access in textiles and
agriculture, issues relating to technical barriers to trade and to
sanitary and phytosanitary measures. The EC repeated that developed
countries should commit themselves at Seattle to duty-free access for
least-developed country products no later than at the end of a new round.
The EC also called for the more advanced of the developing countries to
make a contribution to this effort. For the first time at the 7-8 June
meeting, a number of delegations came out as supporting this proposal.

On issues falling within paragraph 9(a)(ii) of the Geneva Ministerial
Declaration (in other words, the negotiations mandated at Marrakech, also
known as the "Built-in Agenda"), there was broad discussion and support
for a very liberal proposal on agriculture put forward by the Cairns
group. In this context, Japan, Korea, Norway, Switzerland reiterated the
need to address multifunctionality in agriculture. In this context, India
pointed out that the current trade liberalisation ideology doesn't
sufficiently take into account non-trade concerns such as food security
and said that developing countries should be given flexibility when giving
domestic support for agricultural producers.

On services, also an issue on which negotiations were mandated at
Marrakech, a large number of delegations emphasised the need for
negotiations to be broad-based and cover all sectors and all modes of
supply. India in this respect noted that the General Agreement on Trade in
Services (GATS Agreement) does provide some flexibility for individual
developing countries to open fewer sectors and liberalising fewer types of
transactions. The issue of the movement of natural persons was also
discussed in this context.

On investment, the European Communities indicated it would submit its
proposal very soon. A number of countries including those of the Central
European Free Trade Association (CEFTA), Japan and Costa Rica supported
new negotiations on investment. India, Pakistan and Uganda on the other
hand remarked that the Working Group on Investment still had a large
number of issues to address, saying that it is therefore premature to say
investment should be included in new negotiations.

Several WTO Members including Chile, the EC, CEFTA, Japan and Switzerland
were in favour of negotiating rules on competition. India, Pakistan and
Morocco said more time was needed to study the issue, while the U.S. said
they couldn't support a deal on competition.

On trade and the environment, the EC said it was conducting a
sustainability impact assessment of the new round and wanted to see the
environment feature prominently at the Seattle Ministerial. Delegations
such as Norway, the EC and Switzerland mentioned issues such as
ecolabelling, PPMs and MEAs as issues needing clarification and/or
inclusion in a new round of trade talks. A number of developing countries
said that the WTO Committee on Trade and the Environment is the place
where this work should be done, and that there was no need to duplicate
this work.

The formal meeting of the General Council Special Session, meeting on 17
June, was to focus on paragraph 10 of the Geneva Ministerial Declaration,
i.e. on modalities of how a new round of trade negotiations should be
conducted. This point is far from being settled at this point in time. The
only point that really stood out from the 17 June meeting is the EC's
repeated proposal for a short round, with the specific time-frame of three
years repeatedly mentioned. Other countries have objected that it is
difficult to discuss the length of the round before the issues to be
included are known.

ICTSD Internal Files.






GENERAL COUNCIL DECIDES LDC MFN WAIVER; NGO ACCREDITATION FOR SEATTLE

Meeting on 15 June, the WTO General Council adopted a decision that will
allow developing countries to grant preferential market access for exports
from least-developed countries (LDCs) - an option already available to
developed countries under earlier decisions. The decision waives the
most-favoured-nation obligation 'to the extent necessary to allow
developing country Members to provide preferential tariff treatment to
products of least-developed countries, designated as such by the United
Nations, without being required to extend the same tariffs to the products
of any other Member.' The preferential treatment must, however 'be
provided on a generalised, non-reciprocal and non-discriminatory basis'
and must 'not raise barriers or create undue difficulties for the trade of
any other Member'. There is a tacit consensus among WTO Members that the
48 least-developed countries, which command only about 0.3 percent of
global trade, must be better integrated in the multilateral trading
system. Many industrialised countries already offer duty-free access to
most LDC products, and the European Union is pushing for an
across-the-board industrialised country commitment to zero tariffs for LDC
products in Seattle.

The General Council also agreed on 15 June to use the same registration
procedures for non-governmental groups wishing to attend the Seattle
Ministerial Conference as those used for the previous WTO Ministerials.
NGOs must supply in detail all the necessary information showing how they
are concerned with matters related to those of the WTO. Groups that have
been registered for and attended previous Ministerial Conferences or the
March 1999 environment and development symposia, only need to join to
their application a shorter presentation of their activities and how they
relate to those of the WTO. The reference of the meeting for which they
have been granted registration and attended has to be mentioned.

Requests for registration accompanied by the presentation of the NGO
activities have to be sent by mail before 16 August 1999 to: External
Relations Division, Centre William Rappard, 154 rue de Lausanne, 1211
Geneva 21, Switzerland. For more information, see
http://www.wto.org/wto/ngo/ngojune.htm

ICTSD Internal Files.






CLINTON URGES DEEPER ILO-WTO CO-OPERATION

Addressing the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) annual Conference
in Geneva, U.S. President Bill Clinton last week called for greater
co-operation between the ILO and the WTO "to ensure that all our people
are lifted by the global economy."

"Open trade is not contrary to the interest of working people," Mr.
Clinton said. "Competition and integration lead to stronger growth, more
and better jobs, more widely shared gains. Renewed protectionism in any of
our nations would lead to a spiral of retaliation that would diminish the
standard of living for working people everywhere," he said.

Further, Mr. Clinton said, "as we press for more open trade, we must do
more to ensure that all our people are lifted by the global economy. As we
prepare to launch a new global round of trade talks in Seattle in
November, it is vital that the WTO and the ILO work together to advance
that common goal." Mr. Clinton said that workers "must know the dignity
and respect of basic rights in the workplace," if that goal is to be
reached.

Mr. Clinton stopped short of calling for formal linkage between trade and
labour standards at the WTO - a linkage strongly opposed by developing
countries.

President Clinton's speech follows his proposal earlier this year for a
US$25 million fund to help create a new arm of the ILO, to work with
developing countries to put in place basic labour standards. Earlier this
month, Mr. Clinton issued an executive order prohibiting US government
agencies from buying goods manufactured wholly or in part by forced or
indentured child labour.

   "Remarks by the President to the International Labour Organisation
Conference," 16 June 1999;
   "President Clinton addresses International Labour Conference," ILO
PRESS RELEASE, 16 June 1999;
   "Non aux enfants exploites: Clinton promet un soutien total a l'OIT,"
TRIBUNE DE GENEVE, 17 June 1999;
   "Clinton plaide pour les droits sociaux," LE FIGARO, 17 June 1999;
   "The Americas: Clinton urges WTO to stress labour rights," FINANCIAL
TIMES, 17 June 1999.






MERCOSUR TAKES STEPS TOWARD DEEPER UNION

On 28-29 June, EU and Mercosur are to hold a summit in Rio de Janeiro
where the two sides are expected to launch bilateral free trade talks.
With little time left, however, EU trade officials are still without a
negotiating mandate for the talks. EU governments remain split over the
timing of negotiations. France, Ireland and the U.K. are opposed to
launching EU-Mercosur bilateral talks before the next round of WTO trade
negotiations are concluded. The so-called Millennium Round of WTO trade
talks is expected to be launched later this year and conclude by 2003.
European Commission officials said a likely compromise could be reached in
time for the Rio summit, allowing EU negotiators to undertake talks in the
meantime on non-tariff barriers to trade such as food safety. However, it
is unclear how such a mandate would play with Mercosur trade officials
adamant that EU-Mercosur talks be all inclusive.

Indeed, Mercosur officials met for an economic summit last week where it
was emphasised once again that the EU must be prepared to make concessions
in the agricultural sector as pre-condition for bilateral trade talks. 
(See also BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest, Vol. 3, No 22, 7 June, 1999). 
"Agriculture makes up an essential part of Mercosur's economies and
international trade. . . Therefore, the negotiations must include
reciprocal liberalisation of all trade "and must begin shortly to be
concluded before 2005," according to the Mercosur communique. 

Also at the Mercosur summit, officials agreed to take steps toward a co-
ordinated economic policy for its four core members Argentina, Brazil,
Paraguay and Uruguay. Mercosur established a commission to develop
economic targets and a timetable toward economic convergence, targeting
fiscal deficits and interest rates. The economic union would be modelled
after the EU's Maastricht Treaty, which set the stage for the common
European currency. While economic convergence has long been a goal of
Mercosur, the decision to emphasis economic convergence comes as observers
cast doubt on Mercosur's viability as an economic power as the grouping
struggles under the weight of Brazil's currency devaluation and political
turmoil in Paraguay. 

Mercosur last week also signed trade agreements with Guyana, and Trinidad
and Tobago; and investment accords with Australia and New Zealand.

  "EU seeks compromise in launching Mercosur trade talks," DOW JONES, 7
June 1999; 
   "Mercosur summit wraps up with promise to push farm issues with EU,"
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 15 June 1999;
   "Les pays du Mercosur misent sur l'union economique," LA TRIBUNE, 16
June 1999;
   "South America's Mercosur seeks to harmonise economy," REUTERS, 14 June
1999;
   "Mercosur summit ends with pledge to co-ordinate policies," DOW JONES,
15 June 1999;
   "Mercosur inks trade agreement with Australia, New Zealand," AGENCE
FRANCE-PRESSE, 15 June 1999.






WTO DISPUTE SETTLEMENT UPDATE

The WTO Dispute Settlement Body last week established a panel to
investigate an EU complaint against US trade sanctions imposed in March
against EU products as part of the EU-U.S. banana dispute. (See BRIDGES
Weekly Trade News Digest, Vol. 3, No 9, 8 March, 1999). The EU argues that
the U.S. unilaterally imposed US$500 million in retaliatory sanctions
before WTO authorisation had been granted.

Canada last month said it would seek WTO permission to impose retaliatory
tariffs on Australian products if Australia does not comply by 6 July with
a 1998 WTO ruling against Australia's ban on the importation of untreated
fresh, chilled or frozen salmon (see BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol.
2, No. 42, 2 November 1998). The U.S. last week made its own request for a
panel against Australia concerning its ban on salmon - the U.S. wants to
make sure Australia complies with the 6 July deadline in its dispute with
Canada.

The U.S. blocked an EU request to establish a dispute settlement panel
over a U.S. safeguard measure imposed to protect U.S. wheat gluten
producers from "serious injury" from EU shipments of wheat gluten. The
safeguard reduces EU access to the U.S. market for wheat gluten for three
years. The EU argues that the U.S. investigation leading to the imposition
of safeguards was incomplete and in violation of international trade
rules.

The U.S. also blocked the first request by Japan for a panel on the U.S.
anti-dumping act of 1916, which Tokyo alleges violates the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the WTO Antidumping Agreement.
The U.S. denied the 1916 Act violated trade rules noting that the trade
effects of the Act are below the level considered to be in violation of
WTO rules.

Also last week, Australia said it would not appeal a WTO panel ruling
issued last month which found that direct subsidies provided by Australia
to the country's sole automotive-leather producer violate international
trade rules.

    "Canada threatens trade sanctions against Australia," DOW JONES, 31
May 1999;
   "U.S. blocks EU WTO panel on wheat gluten safeguard measure," INSIDE US
TRADE, 18 June 1999;
   "Dumping: Japan goes to WTO over US act;" "WTO: No wheat gluten inquiry
for EU," FINANCIAL TIMES, 17 June 1999.






COMMITTEE ON TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT DISCUSSES MINISTERIAL PREPARATIONS

The WTO Committee on Trade and Development (CTD) met on 16 June. The main
point it discussed was the contribution the Committee could make to the
Seattle Ministerial Meeting.

While several countries - including Egypt, Morocco, Mexico and  Australia
- said that the forum for discussing anything to do with Ministerial
preparations - was clearly the General Council, it was generally felt that
the CTD had a role to play in assisting governments to prepare for a new
round of negotiations.

Australia also felt that the Comittee could look at special challenges
which low income countries face in the multilateral trading system,
particuarly in the area of market access. Australia also suggested
enlarging scope for technical assistance and capacity building.

Mexico suggested that the CTD should come up with some issues to be
considered that would be forwarded to the General Council before 30
September, to be taken into account in preparations for the Ministerial
Meeting.

At the most recent meeting of the CTD, Members again mentioned the paper
that the Secretariat is preparing, on Special and Differential Treatment
(see also BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest, Vol. 3, No 22, 7 June, 1999).
Since so few replies to the questionnaire sent out last year were sent in,
several countries have suggested that the Secretariat compile those
received.

ICTSD Internal Files.






IN BRIEF

In the largest case yet brought under the North American Free Trade
Agreement's (NAFTA) Chapter 11, (which deals with investors' rights and
expropriations), Vancouver-based Methanex Corp. last week filed a notice
of intent to claim an estimated US$970 million from the U.S. for financial
losses suffered as a result of a California State ban on the use of the
gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MBTE). Methanex argues that
the California ban unfairly targets MTBE in what is a broader
environmental issue concerning gasoline and water resources.

   "Damages sought over California ban on gas additive," GLOBE & MAIL, 16
June 1999;
   "Canadian firm seeks $970 million from U.S. under investor provisions,"
INSIDE US TRADE, 18 June 1999.

Canadian officials are expected in the coming months to float the idea of
an EU-Canada bilateral free trade agreement, a potential precursor to a
broader agreement between the EU and the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA). Canada hopes such an accord would reverse recent years'
decreases in EU trade with and investment in Canada.
 "Canada wants giant EU-NAFTA free trade area," REUTERS, 16 June 1999.

The EU last week said it would postpone until at least 15 December a ban
on all U.S. beef imports after the U.S. assured it had tightened controls
on beef exports to ensure beef products contained no banned hormones. This
decision affects conventional beef products produced without growth
hormones: the ban is still in place for hormone-treated beef. (See BRIDGES
Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 3, No. 18, 10 May 1999.)
  "Embargo: EU postpones ban on U.S. beef," FINANICAL TIMES, 15 June 1999. 

Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia hope to revitalise
efforts in the near term toward economic and political integration under
the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA). Established in 1989, the UMA has been bogged
down by political differences between its members.
 "Maghreb poised to revive regional union," IPS, 16 June 1999. 

Analysts last week said the national budgets presented this month by
Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda indicated that the three countries would not
realise a regional economic community from July 1, 1999 as hoped. The East
African Community (EAC), as the grouping is called, is expected instead to
postpone until July 2000 a zero-tariff regime, although maintaining a 10
percent tariff on imports from Kenya, the grouping's largest economy.
 "East Africa common market still a dream after budgets," REUTERS, 11 June
1999.






WTO IN BRIEF

WTO Members on 18 June again failed to reach consensus on a new
Director-General (D-G), with deep divisions remaining over who should be
the trade bodies' next leader. Last week was to be a do-or-die deadline
for selecting a new D-G: instead, Members will now take until at least
early next month to decide between New Zealand's Mike Moore and Thailand's
Supachai Panitchpakdi. BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest will report next
week on some of the main issues that have arisen in the context of the
difficulties in agreeing on a new Director-General.

 "Members pause leadership talks," FINANCIAL TIMES, 19 June 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 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 
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