GENTECH archive


BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol.4,Number15 18 April,2000

Notice below -  US Judge doesn't buy WTO decision !!

[A US federal judge on 11 April ruled that the US Commerce Department
"acted contrary to the law and abused [its] discretion when [it] triggered
a change in the 'dolphin safe' label standard." A coalition of US
environmental groups last year filed suit in federal court trying to stop
plans for changes to "dolphin safe" tuna labelling from moving forward,
arguing that broader guidelines for dolphin safe tuna fishing -- approved
by the US Commerce Department, fail to adequately protect dolphins. (See
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 3, No. 18, 10 May 1999, 99.htm )
   "Judge says tuna must remain dolphin safe," SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 12
April 2000 ]



For more information on the following events please visit ICTSD's online
calendar at:


19 April: Geneva, Switzerland: ICTSD "CAF… & CROISSANTS" MEETING WITH WTO


CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE. Hosted by The Pew Center on Global Climate
Change and The Royal Institute of International Affairs.


An updated list of forthcoming World Trade Organization meetings is posted
at . 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.
Unless otherwise indicated, all WTO meetings are held at the WTO, Centre
William Rappard, Rue de Lausanne 154, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland.

4 May, Geneva, Switzerland: WTO NGO-BRIEFING ON 3rd MAY FORMAL GENERAL
  For information contact: Bernie Kuiten, External Relations Officer, WTO,
tel: (41-22) 739-5676; fax: (41-22) 739-5777; email:

4-5 May, Geneva, Switzerland: WORKING PARTY ON GATS RULES.
   For information contact: Luis Ople, WTO Information and Media Relations
Division, tel: (41-22) 739-5374.


10-11 May, Buenos Aires, Argentina: INTERNATIONAL STANDARDIZATION
CONGRESS. Hosted by The Argentinean Standardization Institute (IRAM), this
conference includes topics such as: Standardization and Sustainable
Development, Contributions of Standardization, and the Evaluation of
Conformity and Standardization. The conference will be attended by the
presidents of the IRAM and the International Organization for
Standardisation (ISO) and various representatives of standards
   For information contact: Argentinean Standardization Institute, email:

12-13 May, Nijmegen, the Nertherlands: PALLAS CONFERENCE ON "ENVIRONMENTAL
LAW FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM." This conference is sponsored by the DG
Environment of the European Commission, Oxford University Press, and the
Yearbook of European Environmental Law. Organised by the Pallas
Consortium, the conference will discuss major challenges determining the
nature and effectiveness of the environmental policy of the EU over the
next decades.
   For information contact: The Pallas Consortium, tel: (31-24) 361-3090;
fax: 361-5838; email:; web:

   For information contact:

CONFERENCE 2000. Hosted by IAT and the UN Office for Project Services,
this conference brings together the UN, NGOs and governments to help build
business partnerships with commercial companies.
   For information contact: tel: (44)-(0) 1702-551-556; fax: 1702-551-511;


JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC LAW. Volume 3, Number 1, March 2000. The
March edition includes articles entitled: "A Perspective on Trade and
Human Rights", "Trade Liberalization and Cultural Policy", "Procedural
Overview of the WTO EC-Banana Dispute", and "An Environmental Perspective
on Seattle." ISSN 1369-3034.
 To obtain contact: email: jiel@law.georgetown,edu; web:

This paper surveys some of the key trade-sustainable development issues
likely to be addressed in the coming years at the multilateral level that
may have implications for the Americas. The study looks further to
opportunities and threats at the domestic level and recommends a number of
ways in which sustainable development might be advanced, striving to
achieve environmental improvement and improved development prospects North
and South. ISBN 1-57454-080-7.
  To obtain contact: The North-South Center, tel: (1-305) 284-8912; email:; web:

2000. Issued twice a year, this report states that the global economy
improved dramatically during the past year as strong growth continued in
the United States, European prospects improved, and several countries
recovered from deep crises.
   To obtain contact:

by the World Bank, this report was put together by the Development
Prospects Group. It focuses on trends in poverty levels, growth and
welfare impacts of crises on Russia, Brazil and East Asia, and the adverse
effects of commodity price cycles. ISBN 0-8213-4550-8.
  To obtain contact the World Bank, tel: (1-800) 645-7247 or (1-703) 661-
1580; fax: 661-1501; web:

THE IMF: SELLING THE ENVIRONMENT SHORT. March 2000. By Dawn Montanye and
Carol Welch. This report examines the impact of IMF policies in eight IMF
borrowing countries: Brazil, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Guyana, Indonesia,
Nicaragua, the Philippines, and Thailand. These cases provide snapshots of
how IMF policies affect the environment; each country study generally
focuses on one environmental implication of the IMF's programmes.
   To obtain contact: Friends of the Earth, tel: (1-202) 783-7400; fax:

THE BIOSAFETY PROTOCOL: AN ANALYSIS. March 2000. By Pete Hardstaff. This
briefing, published by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds,
provides a detailed interpretation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
It also analyses the key successes and flaws of the agreement and looks at
the issues that are left unresolved such as the relationship between the
Protocol and WTO rules.
   To obtain contact: the RSPB, United Kingdom, tel: (44)-(0) 1767-680551;
fax: 1767-691178; email:

Falkner. Vol. 76, No. 2, April 2000, pp. 299-313 in the periodical
International Affairs. This article traces the history of international
biosafety regulation and analyses the Montreal negotiations (January 2000)
that led to the adoption of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. It also
reflects on the implications of the Biosafety Protocol for the
trade-environment interface.
   To obtain contact: Blackwell Publishers Journals, PO Box 805, 108
Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1FH, UK; tel: (44)-(0) 1865-244083; fax:
1865-381381; email:; web:

Table of Contents

- Note to Subscribers - Quad Keeps its LDC Bargaining Chips; Services
Negotiations Timetable Emerges - G-77 Summit: Calls For Unity, Greater
Voice in Trade - CITES COP-11 Rejects Whale Trade - European Parliament
Rejects GMO Liability Regime - News From The Regions: Latin America -
Accession Update: Jordan Becomes 136th WTO Member - WTO Report Points Out
Strong Developing Country Trade Growth - In Brief - WTO In Brief - Events
& Resources


Dear BRIDGES readers:

Due to holidays over the next week, the next issue of BRIDGES Weekly Trade
News Digest will be published on Wednesday, 26 April, instead of Tuesday,
25 April.

Best regards, ICTSD.


Following developing countries' disappointed response to a confidence-
building package put forward by the Quad Group of countries (EU, US,
Canada, and Japan), Canadian Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew on 12 April
said the package was meant to send a "positive signal" to developing
countries and should not be considered the extent of Quad commitments.

Mr. Pettigrew indicated that the package was more of an opening bid in the
negotiations process, and that the Quad had yet to play its full hand. "If
you play your cards before the negotiations begin, you have no more
concessions to make. It is important to send the right kind of signal but
maintain some flexibility for the concessions", Mr. Pettigrew said. The
package of trade concessions and technical assistance commitments
presented to WTO Members early this month is designed to entice poor
countries toward launching a new round of global trade talks. (See BRIDGES
Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 4, No. 14, 11 April 2000, 00.htm )

The WTO's Council for Trade in Services met on 14 April to set its agenda
for 2000. It was followed by a 'Special Session' of the Council, wherein
Members discussed negotiations in services and set up a negotiating
timetable that clusters around four so-called 'services weeks' (see ). Members "more or less" agreed
on a deadline of "before the end of 2000" to submit proposals for both the
modality/structure and the content of market access negotiations in
services. They also considered a proposal to begin actual negotiations in
March 2001; Members are expected to finalise these deadlines at the next
convening of the Services Council Special Session, on 25 or 26 May. Not
surprisingly, these dates mirror the negotiating timetable set out for
agriculture (see ).

At the Special Session, most developing countries (including Venezuela,
Pakistan, Dominican Republic, India, Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala and
Cuba) expressed their dissatisfaction with a WTO Secretariat Assessment of
Trade in Services. According to these countries, the Secretariat Report
lacks sufficient statistics, and they want the issue kept on the Services
agenda until the Secretariat produces a report that better explains the
impact of liberalisation of trade in services on developing countries.

A submission by the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Honduras that
proposes adding an annex on tourism to the WTO Services agreements was
also discussed, though it met with lukewarm support in the Council.
Sources say that the need for an annex on tourism is questionable as most
everything can be achieved already in forthcoming negotiations through
scheduling of commitments. Tourism accounts for a large proportion of
services exports in developing countries, evidenced by the fact that
services accounted for 64.1% of Egypt's exports in 1998 and 63.1% of
Greece's (as opposed to 26.3% of US exports and 12.7% of Germany's).
Tourism accounts for a third of global trade in services.

WTO Director-General Mike Moore said on 13 April that consensus on a new
round remains out of reach, as members continue to disagree on the scope
of issues to be addressed in a new round of trade talks, including
environment, labour, competition and investment, antidumping measures and
tariff peaks. "Consensus is elusive", Moore said. "On the environment and
labour, there is no consensus yet or even on the horizon."

Mr. Moore also said that he hoped the US Congress would pass proposed
legislation promoting trade, investment, and increased development in
Africa and the Caribbean. "The Africa-Caribbean bill is a worthwhile
effort...It would do a lot to restore confidence, it would do a lot to
build impetus up so that other important areas like agriculture and
services can continue." However, Mr. Moore is reportedly less than
satisfied with the bill in that it falls short of his and many WTO
Members' expectations regarding confidence-building measures.

The US Senate and House of Representatives are currently working out
differences in the Africa-Caribbean bill regarding market access for
textiles; the bill is not expected for a vote until after Congress votes
on extending Permanent Normal Trade Relations for China later this spring.

In other news, Japan and Switzerland on 11 April announced a joint
initiative to push for an early launch of a new round of global trade
talks. Japan has a similar agreement with the EU.

   "US needs to take reins of trade talks," DOW JONES NEWSWIRES, 10 April
   "Japan, Switzerland in unison on early free trade talks," JIJI PRESS,
11 April 2000;
   "Moore sees little flexibility on differences for launch of a round;"
"Africa-CBI conferees strike tentative deal; staff to work out details,"
INSIDE US TRADE, 14 April 2000. "Services Council adopts negotiating
timetable for this year," WTO PRESS RELEASE, 17 April 2000;
   "Trade in services," THE ECONOMIST, 1 April 2000; ICTSD Internal Files.


Ministers from the Group of 77 developing countries plus China (G-77,
comprised of 133 developing countries) met from 10-14 April in Havana,
Cuba for the first ever South Summit since the creation of the G-77 in
1964. The summit focused on, inter alia, ways to strengthen cooperation
among G-77 member states, redefining North-South relations, and the role
of the South in the world trading system.

A number of ministers made urgent calls for unity amongst developing
countries, arguing that unity is the best way for a pro-South agenda to
move forward. "To get united is the only way for developing countries to
enhance our position in the North-South dialogue, effectively participate
in economic decision making and safeguard our own interests to the maximum
in the course of globalisation", Chinese Vice Premier Li Lanqing told G-77

The calls for increased South-South cooperation came as divisions amongst
developing countries emerged between those countries favouring a radical
overhaul of the world economic order (Cuba and Malaysia) and those
favouring a constructive engagement approach (championed at the summit by
Nigeria and Indonesia). "If we quarrel about approaches to be made, then
all will face losses", said Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, chairman of the G-77, called for
South-South unity toward reshaping the multilateral trading system. "The
multilateral rule-based trading system, anchored on the Uruguay Round
agreements, is in serious crisis, as manifested by the failure of the
Seattle conference", Mr. Obasanjo said. "The enthusiasm and high
expectations which motivated developing countries to sign the Uruguay
Round agreements have been shattered by the inability of the WTO to take
into consideration the legitimate interests of the countries of the South,
especially Africa.

"Given the failure in Seattle, we should at this Summit evolve fresh
approaches for the equitable management of global trade relations that
would be supportive of development and prosperity for all. In this regard
I strongly recommend that this Summit agree on a common platform of action
for our Trade Ministers to facilitate the attainment of the implementation
of the development dimensions in the various WTO agreements", Mr.Obasanjo

The meeting's final Declaration calls for G-77 members to seek "effective
participation" in the WTO and to "promote their common interests by
shaping and directing multilateral trade negotiations to take into account
the needs of developing countries." The Declaration noted that previous
attempts at South-South co-operation had failed because of "a lack of
effective follow up and implementation" and called for follow-up measures
in its G-77 Havana Plan of Action.

Regarding North-South co-operation, some ministers expressed strong
resentment against developed countries in the North for their failure to
respond on many levels to the trade and development needs of developing
countries. According to one minister, "[we] are asked to trade on equal
terms with the North, when we don't even have the goods to trade; we must
not become a dumping ground for theirs."

Cuba's Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque called on ministers to continue
the "rebellion of Seattle". "I don't mean just the rebellion in the
streets but also the rebellion inside the [Seattle] conference centre
against attempts to carry out an event that was not transparent and
favoured the interests of the few and not the majority", said Mr. Perez.
"We need a North-South dialogue in which the North listens to our

The final Declaration took a measured approach toward globalisation. It
called globalisation "a process which can be uneven and unpredictable,"
but a process that "presents opportunities as well as risks and
challenges... [If] properly harnessed and managed, the foundations for
enduring and equitable growth at the international and national levels can
be laid."

In the Declaration, ministers called for improved market access for
developing country exports. It also stated that "preservation and full
implementation of special and differential treatment for developing
countries should be firmly entrenched in the multilateral trading system."
(WTO agreements contain provisions on special and differential treatment
for developing countries, taking into account differing levels of
development, trade capacity, food security, and other matters.) The
Declaration rejected any attempts to link trade to labour or environmental
standards. "We firmly oppose any linkage between trade and labour
standards. We are also against the use of environmental standards as a new
form of protectionism", according to the document.

Key aspects of the G-77 are likely to be proposed for incorporation into
the UN Millennium Summit from 6-8 September 2000, where UN members are
expected to agree on the UN vision and role in the coming century. In
addition, Obasanjo indicated that he and South African President Thabo
Mbecki would present the conclusions of the Havana G-77 conference to a
planned conference of the G-7 industrialised states in Japan this summer.


While G-77 ministers were meeting in Cuba, G-7 delegates attended the
spring sessions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in
Washington D.C. As the meetings concluded on 17 April, delegates had
agreed to push for extra debt relief, review lending rules, improve
monitoring of member countries' economies, and increase funding for the
fight against AIDS.

In what was almost a replay of the Seattle WTO Ministerial last November/
December, protesters and police clashed on numerous occasions during the
week-long meeting. Thousands of protesters converged on Washington to
oppose the forces of globalisation. The protesters accused the World Bank
and IMF of failing to relieve developing countries of their crushing debt
payments, and implementing policies that contribute to unsafe food,
environmental degradation, and unfair labour practices.

   "Foreign ministers in Havana call for democratisation of United
Nations, enlargement of security council," G-77 PRESS RELEASE, 12 April
   "G- 77 summit stresses South-South co-operation," IPS, 12 April
2000;"Divisions showing at G77 Third World summit," REUTERS, 13 April
   "G77 leaders seek access to world markets, reduction in debt burden,"
ECONOMIC TIMES (India), 13 April 2000;
   "Highlights of the draft final declaration of the G77 Havana summit,"
   "Cuba says Third World will pursue Seattle revolt," REUTERS, 10 April
   "Trading system in serious crisis, says G77 chair," SUNS, 12 April
   "G-77 states seek to speak with one voice," FINANCIAL TIMES, 17 April
   "Protests Hit IMF and World Bank During Meetings in Washington," WALL
STREET JOURNAL 17 April 2000;
   "World Bank, IMF conclude Washington meetings amid protests," CNN.COM
18 April 2000.


The 11th Conference of Parties (COP-11) to the UN Convention on
International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is underway in Gigiri,
Kenya from 10-20 April. Delegates from 138 countries are meeting to take
up a number of issues, including: allowing the limited sale of ivory
stocks by South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia; a request by
Norway and Japan for limited commercial whaling of grey and minke whales;
and potential risk of wildlife trade to the tourism industry.

During the first week of talks, delegates rejected proposals from Norway
and Japan to relax a 14-year ban on commercial whaling. Both Japan and
Norway had argued that their respective whale stocks were healthy and that
adequate safeguards (including in the case of Norway, DNA tracking) were
in place to safeguard against illegal trade in whale products, and
further, that there is no evidence of illegal trade in whale products.
Specifically, Japan and Norway asked that stocks of grey and minke whales
be downlisted from CITES Appendix I to Appendix II. Trade is prohibited in
species listed in Appendix I. Species listed in Appendix II are considered
endangered but may be traded with strict controls.

Countries opposed to the downlisting measures (including the EU, US, New
Zealand, the Czech Republic, Australia, Monaco, Slovakia, Vanuatu, and
Fiji) were reluctant to downlist stocks subject to a moratorium under the
International Whaling Commission (IWC), which oversees management and
conservation of world whaling stocks. These countries noted that the
proposals would undermine the work of the IWC and challenge its authority
on whaling matters. The IWC has rejected similar proposals by Japan and
Norway, arguing that a revised management scheme must be developed before
commercial whaling can resume. The IWC is currently undertaking efforts to
establish such a scheme. Conservation groups, including Greenpeace, WWF,
and The World Conservation Union (IUCN) opposed the downlisting proposal.

Those in support of downlisting proposals by Japan and Norway included the
Eastern Caribbean countries of Antigua, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, St.
Kitts-Nevis, and Grenada. Food security concerns and scientific data
collected by an IWC panel of experts that supports Japan and Norway's
proposal for the resumption of whaling were cited as reasons backing the
Japanese and Norwegian requests.

"The IWC simply refuses to accept the work of its own scientists. There is
clear evidence that the minke whale can be harvested under strict
conditions, so there isn't a need to wait any longer", said Davon Joseph,
the chief representative of Antigua to COP-11. Others argued that the IWC
risked losing its credibility by refusing to accept the work of its own

During the week of 17-20 April, COP-11 will take up proposals by South
Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Namibia to allow continued limited trade
of ivory stocks. (See BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 4, No. 13, 4
April 2000, 00.htm )
BRIDGES will report on the outcome of those talks in the next issue.

   "Caribbean nations stand firm on whaling issue," 14 April 2000;
   "COP-11 highlights," EARTH NEGOTIATIONS BULLETIN (IISD), 17 April 2000;
   "Get whales off the CITES table says WWF," WWF PRESS RELEASE, 10 April


The European Parliament (EP) on 12 April rejected proposed legislation
that would have established civil liability for producers of genetically
modified foods (GMOs) for any damage to human health and the environment
from GMOs. Biotechnology companies had argued that such a regime would
have significantly increased insurance and regulatory costs. The EP also
rejected proposals designed to combat genetic pollution, (e.g. accidental
cross-pollination of GMOs with other plants). Environmental groups --
including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth -- condemned the EP
decisions. EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom has promised to
bring forward a broader liability regime to cover environmental damage
from a wide range of products, noting that a GMO-specific liability regime
would be confusing and difficult to regulate.

The EP did approve legislation outlining licensing rules for GMOs. The
regime requires GMO licences to be renewed periodically, mandates improved
public consultation on granting licences, and clarifies labelling of GMO

Monsanto last week announced it would donate its "working draft" of the
genetic structure of rice to the International Rice Genome Sequencing
Project (IRGSP). IRGSP is an initiative to develop new rice varieties via
traditional methods and biotechnology; as part of that initiative IRGSP
issues all its findings on databases that are accessible to the public.
Monsanto^“s contribution is expected to reduce by 5 years the time
necessary to complete decoding of the entire rice genome, now expected to
take 2-3 years to complete. Half of the world's population is dependent on
rice as its main food staple.

New laws requiring labelling of GMOs entered into force on 10 April in
England and Scotland. The labelling regime is administered under the newly
formed UK Food Standards Administration (FSA). FSA officials said the
labelling regime, which will come into force in Wales and Northern Ireland
at a later date, are designed to foster informed consumer choice.

Sri Lanka on 10 April announced an immediate ban on all imports of GMO
foodstuffs. Sri Lanka, a significant importer of wheat and sugar, said it
wanted to wait "until the controversy surrounding [GMOs] has cleared"
before allowing GMO imports. Sri Lanka does not produce any GMO crops.

   "New GM food labelling laws come into force in UK;" "Sri Lanka bans
import of genetically modified food," REUTERS, 10 April 2000;
   "Europe rejects tougher GM curbs," 13 April 2000, "EU rejects strict GM
food controls," BBC NEWS, 12 April 2000;
   "Monsanto opts to work with the grain," FINANCIAL TIMES, 11 April 2000.


The EU and the Southern Cone Common Market (Mercosur, comprised of
Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and associate members Chile and
Bolivia) held bilateral trade talks from 6-7 April. The talks stalled
amidst differences between the two sides over intellectual property rights
and government procurement. Negotiators will meet again in June.

In advance of the talks, Mercosur officials signalled a shift in their
singular focus in ongoing EU-Mercosur free trade talks on
reducing/eliminating EU agricultural subsidies. Mercosur countries instead
will turn their attention towards gaining market access for bloc exports.
Talks between the EU and Mercosur began last year, but quickly stalled
over Mercosur insistence on EU agricultural liberalisation. Mercosur is a
major agricultural exporter and has long argued that EU farm subsidies
undermine the competitiveness of Mercosur agricultural commodities on the
world market. Various Mercosur officials said that the grouping would push
hard for market access in other sectors important to the region, including
energy and services. EU-Mercosur trade totalled an estimated US$46 billion
in 1998.

Argentina on 3 April announced plans to boost value-added exports from the
country. The government intends to spend about US$55 million in rebates to
exporters for goods sent outside the Mercosur bloc, and US$45 million in
tariff cuts on certain imports. The measures are designed to decrease
Argentina's dependence on exports to neighbouring Brazil, and to move
Argentina's export base from low-value commodities to value-added goods
such as assembled technology products.

Argentina is expected soon to lift safeguards against imports of Brazilian
textiles. The move comes after the WTO on 20 March established a dispute
settlement panel regarding a complaint by Brazil against Argentine
restrictions on cotton textiles.

On 29 March, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced a five-
year, US$30 million programme agreement with the Caribbean Community,
designed to foster economic development in the Caribbean. The program will
place special emphasis on Windward Islands countries (St. Lucia, St.
Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, and Dominica) that are adversely
affected by the loss or potential loss of preferential EU market access
for bananas. The program also includes an environment component, which
will allow countries to identify and act upon environmental problems that
are closely linked to the region's growth potential.

Japan and Mexico are expected to meet on 20 April for high-level bilateral
discussions that will address, among other issues, the possibility of
launching free trade talks. A Japan-Mexico free trade agreement could help
further diversify Mexico's export base, which is currently dominated by
the US market. An EU-Mexico free trade agreement is scheduled to launch
from 1 July.

In related news, a report by the Centre for Economic Research and Teaching
stated that the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) between the US,
Mexico, and Canada, has resulted in a concentration of industrial
development in Mexico's northern states, increasing the income gap between
northern and southern Mexican states. Also according to the report, Mexico
has been able to diversify its export base away from a dependence on oil
to other goods, driven by a 137 percent increase in exports to the US.

   "South American exporters switch tack on EU relations;" "Argentine push
for global exports, imports," REUTERS, 3 April 2000;
   "Argentina to lift safeguards on Brazil textiles - report," DOW JONES
NEWSWIRES, 11 April 2000;
   "Mexico calls for Japan-Mexico FTA," KYODO NEWS INTERNATIONAL, 5 April
   "Albright signs $30 million agreement to help Caribbean," TRADE
COMPASS, 30 April 2000;
   "NAFTA swells gap between rich and poor regions of Mexico," IPS, 4
April 2000.


Jordan on 11 April became the 136th Member of the WTO. Under terms of its
accession package, Jordan will reduce customs duties from 35 to 20 percent
over the next ten years and reduce price controls on a number of goods,
including gasoline and medicine. In anticipation of WTO membership, Jordan
undertook major reforms of its economy, laws (including intellectual
property rights legislation) and institutions in order to promote greater
trade and investment. Oman and Saudi Arabia remain the only two Arab
states outside the WTO.

On 13 April, Taiwan signed a bilateral WTO accession agreement with
Brazil, the last remaining country with which Taiwan needed to negotiate
an accession agreement. Taiwan is now technically eligible for WTO
membership pending approval of its full accession package at the next
meeting of the WTO working group on Taiwan. However, that meeting is not
likely to occur until after China completes its accession. China has been
adamant that it should be admitted to the WTO before Taiwan.

China on 12 April signed a bilateral WTO accession agreement with
Malaysia. China must still conclude agreements with seven WTO Members (the
EU, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Latvia, Mexico, and Switzerland)
before it can join the WTO. Regarding the EU-China process, on 10 April EU
foreign ministers (representing the 15 EU member-states) said they could
tolerate some flexibility in the EU negotiating position with China. This
could signal progress for the EU- China talks, which stalled last month
after China refused to bend to EU demands for higher levels of European
ownership of telecom firms and greater market access in the insurance and
automotive sectors. EU demands in these areas exceed concessions given by
China to the US in their November 1999 negotiated trade accord. It is not
clear when EU- China talks will resume.

EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy reportedly warned EU foreign ministers
that China could try to delay an EU-China agreement until after the US
votes on extending Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) to China (see
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 4, No. 10, 14 March 2000, ). Such a delay could
hurt the EU's attempt to gain concessions beyond those negotiated by the
US, Mr. Lamy reportedly told ministers.

The US Congress is expected to vote on PNTR on 23 May. US President
Clinton has made PNTR a high priority for his administration and last week
warned legislators of the "extremely harmful" consequences should they
reject the PNTR bill. "China will join the WTO regardless of what we
decide to do", President Clinton said in a statement. "The decision before
Congress is whether the United States will receive the same trade benefits
from China as will our trade competitors."

Russia late last month tabled a new market-access offer in an attempt to
revive its bid to join the WTO. While some observers note that the offer
still falls short, it is a noticeable improvement over its last bid, made
in 1998. The newest offer includes all tariff lines in Russia's customs
duties roster and reduces average weighted tariffs for agricultural and
industrial goods to between 17 and 22.3 percent.

   "Jordan becomes 136th Member of WTO," BLOOMBERG, 11 April 2000;
   "China, Malaysia sign WTO deal," ASSOCIATED PRESS, 14 April 2000;
   "Taiwan signs bilateral trade deal with Brazil, paving way for
accession," WTO REPORTER, 14 April 2000;
   "EU pushes for China/WTO terms," FINANCIAL TIMES, 11 April 2000;
   "China may try to stall EU WTO pact until after US vote," BLOOMBERG, 10
April 2000;
   "Clinton warns of dire consequences if PNTR defeated," WHITE HOUSE
PRESS RELEASE, 11 April 2000;
   "Russia renews WTO bid with market access offer," STRAITS TIMES, 29
March 2000.


A preliminary WTO report on trade developments in 1999 and the outlook for
2000, released on Thursday 13 April, shows that the volume of world
merchandise trade grew in 1999 by 4.5 percent -- mirroring growth in trade
for 1998 -- and amounted to USD 5.45 trillion in value. The stability in
this growth rate conceals intra-year downturns in the last two years and
significant shifts in the geographic distribution of demand. In
particular, import demand in Asia, Latin America, and the economies of the
Commonwealth of Independent States turned steeply downward throughout 1998
mainly due to the combined effects of the East Asian, Russian and
Brazilian crises. Also, increases in North American and EU imports were
offset by a drop in demand in developing countries.

Developing countries' merchandise exports expanded by 8.5 per cent in
1999, compared to world merchandise growth of 3.5 percent. In 1999, the
share of developing countries was 27.5 per cent for merchandise exports
and 23 per cent for commercial services exports, both figures 4 percentage
points higher than in 1990.

Developing countries' merchandise exports in 1999 are reported by the WTO
to have expanded by 8.5 percent, or about two times faster than the global
average. The definition of "developing countries" used in this case
comprised Latin America (including Mexico), Africa (including South
Africa) and the Middle East, and Asia (including China but excluding
Japan, New Zealand, and Australia). The most important factor in this
expansion is undoubtedly the rapid recovery in East Asia. Table II.2 in
the report, "Growth in the Volume of World Merchandise Trade by Selected
Region, 1997-9" (see, shows how
percentage points would have been added not only to developing countries'
but also to world imports this year: the table reflects a shift from a
large decline in Asian import volumes (including Japan) in 1998 to an
increase in growth in 1999 of 9 percent. Amongst the least-developed
countries (LDCs), oil exporters increased exports by more than 33 percent,
exporters of manufactured goods including Bangladesh, Cambodia, Haiti, and
Myanmar expanded exports faster than world trade, while non- fuel
commodity exporters lagged behind.

Global economic prospects for 2000 are positive according to the report
(also see the International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook Report,
Spring 2000 and the World Bank's Global Economic Prospects And The
Developing Countries - 2000 in RESOURCES, this issue). Economic output is
expected to pick up from 3 percent in 1999 to about 3.5 percent in 2000,
while the volume of world merchandise trade growth should reach 6.5
percent. Higher growth is forecasted for transition and African economies,
a strong acceleration for Latin America and the Middle East, and an
expansion of as much as 3 percent for the GDP of industrialised countries.
Several long-term prospects should advise the reports' crediting of US
demand and Asian recovery and its overall positive outlook on global
economic output in coming years. Among these is the still-rising cost of
restructuring the Indonesian bank balance sheets, the ongoing difficulties
that China is experiencing with its commercial banks and their links with
ailing state-owned enterprises (which has also influenced inward
investment), and uncertainty regarding the continued softening of the US
dollar that is required to flatten import prices and increase global trade

WTO PRESS RELEASE (175), 13 April 2000; ICTSD Internal Files.


China on 5 April formally joined the Bangkok Agreement, a preferential
tariff arrangement aimed at promoting intra-regional trade. The Bangkok
Agreement covers trade between China, Republic of Korea, India,
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Laos, and marks China's first foray into
regional trade accords.

   "China joins Bangkok Agreement," TRADE COMPASS, 11 April 2000.

A US federal judge on 11 April ruled that the US Commerce Department
"acted contrary to the law and abused [its] discretion when [it] triggered
a change in the 'dolphin safe' label standard." A coalition of US
environmental groups last year filed suit in federal court trying to stop
plans for changes to "dolphin safe" tuna labelling from moving forward,
arguing that broader guidelines for dolphin safe tuna fishing -- approved
by the US Commerce Department, fail to adequately protect dolphins. (See
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 3, No. 18, 10 May 1999, 99.htm )
   "Judge says tuna must remain dolphin safe," SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 12
April 2000

Starbucks, the international coffee chain, announced on 10 April that it
would sell Fair Trade Certified coffee in more than 2,000 cafes across the
US beginning in fall, 2000. The Starbucks' coffee contract represents the
largest purchase of Fair Trade Certified coffee in the US. Fair Trade
Certified indicates that the coffee was grown by farmers earning a living
wage from their harvest. The Starbucks announcement came as human rights
activists launched a campaign to get major coffee companies to offer
socially responsible coffee.
   "Starbucks agrees to offer its customers Fair Trade Certified coffee by
the end of the year," GLOBAL EXCHANGE PRESS RELEASE, 10 April 2000.

EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy on 6 April held a dialogue with members
of EU non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society to discuss
post-WTO Seattle Ministerial issues and ways to improve dialogue between
the EU and civil society. The meeting brought together social,
environmental, consumer, and development NGOs, as well as representatives
from business, unions, and agriculture. Another meeting is scheduled for
19 April.
   "DG Trade - civil society dialogue," ICDA, 12 April 2000.

This year's session of the Commission of Sustainable Development of the UN
(CSD-8) will focus its High-Level Segement on trade and investment and on
agriculture. As usual, parallel events are being organised by NGOs and
intergovernmental bodies. Some of them will include: 25 April: "Green
Politics: Southern perspectives on Trade and Environment" organised by the
Centre for Science and Environment; 25 April: ICTSD's dinner-discussion on
trade and sustainable development with the participation of the Chair of
the WTO's Committee on Trade and Environment, Amb. Yolanda Bike and
several ministers, academics and NGOs; 27 April: "Greening of Capital
Markets" organised by the Government of Norway; and 27 April: a High Level
Panel Discussion on Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and the
WTO convened by the UN Environment Programme.


Two new experts have been named to the WTO Appellate Body, replacing two
departing members. India's former chief trade negotiator Arumugamangalam
Venkatachelam Ganesan, and Egyptian law professor Georges Abi-Saab were
selected from amongst eight candidates. Other candidates included nominees
form Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Bulgaria, and Israel. Still one more
trade expert must be appointed to replace Christopher Beeby, who died in
March. The Appellate Body reviews dispute settlement cases and is charged
with upholding, modifying, or reversing the legal findings and conclusions
of WTO dispute settlement panels.
  "Egyptian and Indian to join WTO appeals body," STRAITS TIMES, 9 April

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 at ICTSD by Dara Edmonds and Jay Wilkinson; written by Judy
Brienza (IATP) and Dara Edmonds and edited by Hugo Cameron, The Director is Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz, ICTSD is an independent, not-for-profit organisation
based at: 13, ch des Anemones, 1219 Geneva, Switzerland. Tel: (41- 22)
917-8492; 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 and should be directed to the Editor
or the Director.

ISSN: 1563-003X