BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol.4, Number 21 30 May, 2000
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EVENTS & RESOURCES
Coming Up This Week:
For more information on these events, please visit ICTSD's online calendar
29 May, Moscow, Russia: EU-RUSSIA SUMMIT.
For information contact: European Commission, DG-1 (Trade), Information
Unit, fax: (32-2) 296- 9854, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; web:
30 May-2 June, Miami, Florida: FREE TRADE AREA OF THE AMERICAS MEETING
(FTAA) NEGOTIATING GROUP ON SERVICES.
For information contact: FTAA Secretariat at:
30-31 May, London, England: THE OPPORTUNITY FOR BUSINESS TO CHANGE THE
WORLD TRADE DEBATE. Organised by the Commonwealth Business Council.
For information contact: Sandeep Bahl, Commonwealth Business Council,
Quandrant House, 58 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5JH, UK, tel: (44-0) 20-7747-
6557; fax: 20-7747-6530; email: email@example.com; web:
31 May, Queluz, Portugal: EU-US SUMMIT.
For information contact: : European Commission, DG-1 (Trade),
Information Unit, fax: (32-2) 296- 9854; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet:
31 May - 1 June, Ottawa, Canada: THE TRADE KNOWLEDGE NETWORK: TRADE AND
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT FROM A SOUTHERN PERSPECTIVE. This conference is
hosted by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
and the Centre for Trade Policy and Law (CTPL), with the support of the
International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
For information contact: Christine Carlin, CTPL, tel: (1-613) 520-6696;
fax: 520-3981; email: email@example.com; or Aaron Cosbey, IISD,
1-2 June, Mexico: NAFTA CEC MEETING ON BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION. The
Commission for Environmental Cooperation of the North American Free Trade
Agreement will host its Priority Regions Workshop for the CEC Biodiversity
Conservation Strategic Plan. The meeting is open only to invited
For information contact: Hans Herrmann, Commission for Environmental
Cooperation, 393 St.-Jacques W., Suite 200, Montreal, Quebec, H2Y 1N9,
Canada, tel: (1-514) 350-4340; fax: 350- 4314; email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
web: http://www.cec.org. -- From IISD Linkages,
An updated list of forthcoming WTO meetings is posted at
http://www.wto.org/wto/about/meets.doc. 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.
29 & 31 May, Geneva: TRADE POLICY REVIEW BODY - PERU.
For information contact Lucie Giraud, WTO Information and Media
Relations Division, tel: (41-22) 739-5075.
8-9 June, Geneva: WORKING GROUP ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TRADE AND
For information, contact Nuch Nazeer, WTO Information and Media
Relations Division, tel: (41-22) 739-5393.
3-5 June, Windsor, Ontario, Canada: SYMPOSIUM ON HEMISPHERIC INTEGRATION
AND DEMOCRACY IN THE AMERICAS: Citizenship, Participation, Accountability.
Hosted by the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic
Development, the symposium will include such topics as: Democratic
Governance, Human Rights, Citizenship and Participation, Visions from the
four corners of the continent, and civil society priorities for the Summit
of the Americas.
For information visit: http://www.ichrdd.ca
12-15 June, Seoul, Republic of Korea: UNEP WORKSHOP ON MANAGEMENT OF
DIOXINS. This is a workshop on the management of dioxins, furans, and
PCBS, organised by the UN Environment Programme.
For information, contact: Murray Newton or Heidi Fiedler, UNEP
Chemicals (IRPTC), tel: (41-22) 979-9111; fax: 797-3460; email:
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org; web: http://irptc.unep.ch/pops. --
>From IISD Linkages, http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/
12-16 June, Bonn, Germany: 12TH SESSION OF THE FCCC SUBSIDIARY BODIES. It
will be preceded by one week of informal meetings, including workshops.
For information contact: the FCCC Secretariat, tel: (49-228) 815-1000;
fax: 815-1999; email: email@example.com; web:
13-16 June, Rome, Italy: IPPC OPEN-ENDED EXPLORATORY WORKING GROUP MEETING
ON THE PHYTOSANITARY ASPECTS OF GMOs, BIOSAFETY AND INVASIVE SPECIES.
Hosted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International
Plant Protection Convention.
For information contact: Christina Devorshak, Associate Professional
Officer, FAO-IPPC; tel: (39- 06)5705-4006; fax:5705-6347; email:
Christina.firstname.lastname@example.org; Internet: http://www.fao.org
19-21 June, Geneva, Switzerland: SUMMER COURSES ON DISPUTE SETTLEMENT IN
INTERNATIONAL TRADE, INVESTMENT AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW. Sponsored
by the Academy of International Economic Law and Dispute Settlement. The
courses will offer participants practical insights into the law and
dispute settlement practice of the United Nations, the WTO, and the World
Intellectual Property Organization.
For information contact: Professeur E.-U. Petersmann, ACADEMIE DE DROIT
INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIQUE; Dpt de Droit international public et
organisation internationale, FACULTE DE DROIT - UNIVERSITE DE GENEVE, 20
bd du Pont d'Arve, CH-1211 Geneve 4; tel: (41-22) 705-8542; fax: 705-8543.
22-23 June, Geneva, Switzerland: SUMMER COURSES ON INTERNATIONAL
COMPETITION LAW AND POLICY. The courses will offer participants practical
insights into the law and dispute settlement practice of the United
Nations, the World Trade Organization, and the World Intellectual Property
For information, contact: Professeur E.-U. Petersmann, ACADEMIE DE
DROIT INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIQUE; Dpt de Droit international public et
organisation internationale, FACULTE DE DROIT - UNIVERSITE DE GENEVE, 20
bd du Pont d'Arve, CH-1211 Geneve 4; tel: (41-22) 705-8542; fax: 705-8543.
PRIVATE CAPITAL FLOWS TO AFRICA. 2000. by Nils Bhinda, Stephanie
Griffith-Jones, Johnathan Leape, Matthew Martin. This book presents the
facts on the scale and composition of private capital flows to Africa and
the difficulties in monitoring them, looks at what motivates people to
invest, focuses on the macroeconomic impact and policy implications of
capital flows, and identifies measures which will help African governments
attract more development-oriented private flows.
To obtain contact: FONDAD, Noordeinde 107a, 2514 GE The Hague, The
Netherlands, fax: (31-70) 346-3939; email: Forum_Fondad@wxs.nl
TRADE BLOCS AND BEYOND: POLITICAL DREAMS AND PRACTICAL DECISIONS. 2000.
Published by Oxford University Press for the World Bank. This book
analyses both the political and the economic benefits of regional trade
blocs. It argues that the benefits can sometimes be illusory, and that
careful economic choices have to be made if the schemes are to bring
To obtain contact: The World Bank Order Fulfillment Operations,
Washington, D.C., USA, tel: (1-800) 645-7247 or (1-703) 661- 1580; fax:
661-1501; email: email@example.com; web:
Table of Contents
- Services Council Creates 'Roadmap' for Negotiations
- US House Approves China PNTR; China-US Sign Environmental Cooperation
- Dispute Settlement: EC Move Fans the Flames Under Beef Row
- Labour Update: ILO, Burma to Meet On Forced Labour
- Russia Queues Up For WTO Accession Bid
- News From the Regions: Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East
- In Brief
- WTO In Brief
- On The Move
- Events & Resources
SERVICES COUNCIL CREATES 'ROADMAP' FOR NEGOTIATIONS
Meeting for 'Services Week' over the past number of days, WTO Members
gathered for a series of meetings on services issues in Geneva, including
financial services, most-favoured-nation (MFN) exemptions, and a Special
Session on services negotiations. At the Special Session on 26 May, trade
envoys agreed on a text for a roadmap on how to structure the first phase
of services negotiations, which are mandated under the WTO agreements to
begin 1 January 2000.
The roadmap does not replace the guidelines and modalities for services
liberalisation negotiations specified in Article XIX of the WTO's General
Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Rather, it outlines basic
principles for the negotiations and indications of what countries should
do to start the talks. The text underlines the special concerns of
developing countries and special treatment for least-developed countries
(LDCs), and encompasses the flexibility principle outlined in Article XIX.
Members agreed that the services negotiations process should run in
parallel with the ongoing negotiations process in agriculture. Developing
country representatives expressed satisfaction with this decision, as most
developing countries are more competitive in agriculture than in services,
and had been pushing for parity in the negotiations schedules.
"Delegations wanted to do something in short order, quickly to demonstrate
that they are running this thing seriously," said Director of the WTO's
Trade in Services Division David Hartridge. "They also wanted to match
what has been done in the agricultural negotiations, where a road map of
this sort has been agreed in March," he stated at a press briefing.
Developing country Members have also pushed to keep the GATS negotiating
structure as it stands, in what is known as a "bottom-up" approach,
whereby nothing is committed unless it is formally included in each
country's submitted services list.
According to the roadmap, in the first phase Members will submit proposals
on guidelines and modalities up until March 2001 (though December 2000 has
been set as a provisional deadline). Following a 'stock-taking' period,
countries will begin the process of more concrete negotiations in the
At the current stage, the services sectors to be negotiated on remain
open, and the specific modalities and procedures for the negotiations
remain undecided. The European Commission asked at the Special Session for
the Seattle text on services modalities to be used as a basis, but some
delegations are opposing this move. "The text that was developed in
Seattle was created in a context with many different balances," said one
developing country representative, "but conditions are not the same now."
Members are considering ways to proceed on this work, and have asked the
WTO Secretariat to produce a compilation of negotiating procedures and
guidelines -- such as those used during the Uruguay Round of trade
negotiations -- that can be used as a starting point. However, the main
structure for the services negotiations is still expected to come from
individual Members' proposals.
Members also met on 29 May for the first session of the review of services
MFN exemptions. The meeting addressed exemptions that related to: all
sectors; business services; communications services; construction and
related engineering services; and distribution services. Most Members see
this as an information exchange process, and a number of delegations --
including Mexico; Chile; Hong Kong, China; Japan; and the EC -- submitted
questions relating to MFN exemptions granted to other Members.
The next meeting of the Services Council on MFN exemptions will be on 6- 7
July, while the Special Session will meet on 13 or 14 July.
"WTO states agree framework for services talks," REUTERS, 26 May 2000;
"WTO Members draw up 'roadmap' for services negotiations," AGENCE
FRANCE-PRESSE, 26 May 2000. ICTSD Internal Files.
US HOUSE APPROVES CHINA PNTR; CHINA-US SIGN ENVIRONMENTAL COOPERATION PACT
The US House of Representatives on 24 May approved, by a 237-197 vote,
legislation granting China Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with
the US. PNTR would put China on par with the US' other WTO trading
partners, and replaces the annual process of Congressional debate over
China's trade status with the US. The PNTR bill now proceeds to the
Senate, where easy passage is expected in early June.
Opponents of PNTR argued that eliminating the annual review of China's
trade status would take away the only leverage the US has with China to
press for human rights reform within China, while labour organisations
warned that PNTR would lead to significant job losses for US workers. PNTR
proponents made the case that the US would enjoy increased exports and
business opportunities, which would lead to improved human rights and
labour rights in China. PNTR proponents warned that failure to pass PNTR
would result in the US being left out of Chinese concessions on improved
market access that the EU and other WTO Members would enjoy once China
joins the WTO.
The PNTR legislation contains provisions to protect against import surges
and creates a permanent commission to monitor Chinese human rights. The
bill also includes language calling on the US Trade Representative to push
for an annual trade review of China in the WTO.
Chinese officials called the House passage of PNTR a "wise decision," but
criticised the inclusion of human rights and other provisions." [The]
Chinese side is seriously concerned and dissatisfied that the bill
contains provisions that attempt to interfere in China's internal affairs
in various areas like human rights and harm the interests of China. The
Chinese Government has made solemn representations to the US Government
about the matter and announced in explicit terms that it firmly opposes
and cannot accept these provisions," according to a Chinese Foreign
WTO Director-General Mike Moore welcomed the House passage of PNTR. "By
extending PNTR to China, the House has given a major vote of confidence to
a rules-based trading system, a system which encourages openness and
accountability. I am hopeful that the US Senate will also approve PNTR
when it votes on the matter in the coming weeks," Mr. Moore said.
China must still conclude WTO accession agreements with five countries:
Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico and Switzerland. Swiss officials
report that Switzerland and China are "very close" to finalising a deal.
However, a report out of China indicates that diplomatic ties between
Taiwan and Costa Rica and Guatemala could hinder efforts between China and
the two Latin American countries to conclude accession agreements. The
next session of the WTO working party on China's entry is scheduled for 23
In related news, the US and China on 19 May signed a joint statement
pledging increased US-China co-operation to protect the environment and
promote sustainable development. According to the statement, the US and
China "recognise that countries can achieve sustained economic growth
while protecting the environment and taking actions to combat climate
Regarding climate change, the US and China "intend to work together and
with other countries toward early agreement on the elements of the Kyoto
mechanisms, including the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)," according to
the document. The CDM is a mechanism designed to facilitate the transfer
of money and technology to developing nations to fund energy efficiency,
resulting in cost-efficient greenhouse gas reductions.
The US-China statement also noted that China's entry into the WTO would
advance China's clean energy and environmental protection goals by
accelerating the use of environmentally sound technologies in China (e.g.,
moving from coal to natural gas and renewable energy sources.) The US and
China pledged "to work together to ensure that any increased trade flows
will not undercut natural resource management and species protection
programs," according to the joint statement.
"House approves China PNTR bill with strong Republican backing;"
"China denounces human rights commission in China PNTR bill," INSIDE US
TRADE, 25 May 2000;
"DG statement on House of Representatives approval on PNTR for China,"
WTO PRESS RELEASE, 24 May 2000;
"US approves China trade bill," FINANCIAL TIMES, 24 May 2000;
"Vice President Gore announces joint statement of US and China on
environment cooperation efforts," TRADE COMPASS, 22 May 2000;
"China, US pledge cooperation on climate change," ENS, 22 May 2000;
"Switzerland says it's close to an accord on China's WTO entry,"
BLOOMBERG NEWS, 23 May 2000;
"China think tank sees WTO hurdles in Latin America - report," DOW
JONES NEWSWIRES, 23 May 2000.
DISPUTE SETTLEMENT: EC MOVE FANS THE FLAMES UNDER BEEF ROW
In the latest development in the long-running EU-US dispute over hormone
treated beef, the European Commission (EC) on 24 May adopted a proposal to
permanently ban the growth hormone 17-beta oestradiol for any use with
farm animals and to implement a provisional ban on five other growth
hormones used in beef production. EU officials said that the changes would
bring the EU in line with a WTO ruling against an EU ban on hormone
treated beef imports, and called on the US to drop retaliatory sanctions
imposed from July 1999.
The WTO Appellate Body in January 1998 ruled that an EU ban on beef
treated with growth hormones was not based on adequate scientific evidence
and therefore violated international trade rules (see BRIDGES Weekly Trade
News Digest Vol. 4, No. 11, 21 March 2000,
http://www.ictsd.org/html/weekly/story8.21-03-00.htm ). The WTO in July
1999 authorised the US to impose US$191.4 million in trade sanctions
against the EU for its failure to comply with the ruling.
"We believe this will bring us into line with the WTO panel's findings,"
EC spokesman Anthony Gooch said. "We are hopeful that the US will respond
to what we have put on the table and deem it fit to lift the sanctions."
The EC said it would seek a new WTO ruling in the event that the US does
not drop the sanctions once the legislation authorising the bans enters
into force, expected in early 2001.
According to an EC statement, the EC adopted the permanent ban on 17- beta
oestradiol and the provisional ban on other growth hormones "on the basis
of the latest scientific information available." However, US officials and
US industry representatives refuted the notion that any new scientific
evidence exists to uphold such a ban. US government officials noted that
the EU is merely recycling previously refuted evidence on the health risks
of the growth hormones.
"To our knowledge, there is no new publicly available scientific evidence
to warrant a modification of the international scientific consensus," said
Julie Quick, spokesperson for the US National Cattlemen's Beef
Association. "Today's action should be recognised for what it is. It is a
creative attempt by the European Commission to try to circumvent
international trade rules. The European Union is not in compliance with
world trade rules, and their actions today do nothing to change that. A
ban is a ban," Ms. Quick said.
In other news, EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy expressed frustration
over internal EU attempts to comply with a WTO ruling against its banana
import regime. France, Spain, Portugal and Ireland are opposed to a
proposal for a tariff-only regime for banana imports that would likely
comply with WTO rules. The four countries reportedly favour a quota-based
system, which thus far has not satisfied either the complainants in the
dispute or the African, Caribbean and Pacific banana producing countries
benefitting from the current preferential EU regime.
Noting the US$116 million in sanctions imposed by the US for the EU's
failure to comply with the WTO ruling against the EU banana regime, and
the more recent WTO authorisation for US$200 million in retaliatory
sanctions by Ecuador, Mr. Lamy warned that EU failure to comply was
"getting expensive and cannot go on interminably." Lamy noted that the
current quota scheme puts about US$500 million in the pockets of banana
producers, distributors and exporters, while under a tariff-only scheme,
that same amount of money could flow into the EU budget.
On 26 May, the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced the deadline of 19
June to review -- and possibly alter -- the range of EU imports subject to
US sanctions. US trade officials also indicated that the US was
considering raising the level of the punitive tariffs above 100 per cent
but applying them to fewer products in order to remain WTO- compliant.
The announcement is the result of a recent requirement by Congress
(contained in the Africa-Caribbean Basin Initiative bill passed by
Congress in mid-May) that the USTR step up pressure on the EU by regularly
rotating the list of products affected by sanctions (see BRIDGES Weekly
Trade News Digest, Vol. 4 No 19, 16 May 2000,
http://www.ictsd.org/html/weekly/story1.16-05-00.htm ). The EU has
criticised the "carousel" retaliation move and is expected to raise the
issue at the US-EU summit next week in Portugal.
Brazil on 22 May appealed a 9 May WTO Dispute Settlement panel ruling that
found it had not complied with a 1999 WTO ruling against its aircraft
export subsidies regime (see BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 4, No.
19, 16 May 2000, http://www.ictsd.org/html/weekly/story4.16- 05-00.htm ).
Before it can consider the WTO appeal, the Appellate Body must first
determine whether it can accept an appeal in a compliance ruling, since
dispute settlement rules make no provisions for appeals in compliance
Also on 22 May, Canada requested WTO authorisation to impose US$3.5
billion in trade sanctions against Brazil for Brazil's failure to comply
with the 1999 WTO aircraft export subsidies ruling. Brazil requested WTO
arbitration over the level of retaliatory sanctions, and also argued that
Canada should withdraw its request for retaliation until after the
Appellate Body rules on the compliance appeal. The EU, Argentina, India,
Hong Kong and Malaysia agreed with Brazil, recalling arguments made in the
EU-US banana dispute that compliance matters should proceed before
countries seek the right to retaliate. Canada argued that the two panels
could proceed simultaneously, but agreed not to impose sanctions until the
WTO ruled on Brazil's compliance appeal. Brazil and Canada agreed to meet
from 22-23 June in an effort to try and reach a settlement in the overall
"US beef group condemns EU beef hormone decision," BRIDGENEWS, 24 May
"EU proposes amended legislation to outlaw growth hormone; seeks
lifting of sanctions," WTO REPORTER, 26 May 2000;
"Bruxelles 'habille' l'interdiction des hormones," LA TRIBUNE, 25 May
"EU has new strategy to bring beef dispute back to WTO," WALL STREET
JOURNAL, 26 May 2000;
"France leads opposition to tariff plan to end EU banana row,"
BLOOMBERG NEWS, 22 May 2000;
"Brazil appeals aircraft subsidies rulings; arbitration panel to hear
Canada retaliation," WTO REPORTER, 23 May 2000;
"Canada-Brazil trade talks to resume in Geneva June 22- 23,"
BRIDGENEWS, 23 May 2000;
"US sets sanctions deadline," FINANCIAL TIMES, 26 May 2000.
LABOUR UPDATE: ILO, BURMA TO MEET ON FORCED LABOUR
Delegates from over 300 countries will meet from 30 May-15 June for the
88th Session of the International Labour Conference at International
Labour Organization (ILO) headquarters in Geneva. In advance of the
conference, the ILO released "Your Voice at Work," a report examining
trends in countries' respect for freedom of association and collective
bargaining rights. The report notes that workers who attempt to organise
face intimidation, threats and murder in a number of countries. The report
also notes that in several countries, including Bolivia, Honduras, India,
Paraguay, and the US, national legislation either fails to legally protect
agricultural workers, or denies them the right to organise.
The report also examines the impact of globalisation on labour rights.
"Long established practices and deeply felt values are being tested
against the criteria for survival in a fiercely competitive global
market," according to the report. ILO Director-General Juan Somavia noted
further that, "It is very clear that the benefits of globalisation aren't
reaching enough people. Its social legitimacy will have to be confronted."
The full report is available at http://www.ilo.org/public/english/
In other labour news, Burma (Myanmar) and ILO officials met from 24-26 May
to discuss a plan of action toward Burma's implementation of ILO
recommendations on labour reform. The ILO last year suspended ILO aid to
Burma and barred Burma's participation at ILO meetings over concerns about
its "widespread use" of forced labour. The ILO in 1998 reported that an
estimated 800,000 Burmese are pressed into forced labour by Burma's
Ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the
US met from 24-25 May to discuss a range of economic matters. ASEAN called
on the US to reverse its policy withholding funding from ASEAN regional
assistance projects over objections to Burma's human rights record. ASEAN
ministers also reiterated their opposition to trade and labour linkage at
The US on 25 May threatened to suspend Swaziland's privileges under the US
Generalised System of Preferences (GSP, which extends reduced tariffs on
various imports from developing countries) unless Swaziland passes labour
legislation bringing its labour laws in line with ILO standards. The
legislation has passed the Swaziland Parliament, but King Mswati III has
thus far refused to sign the law, insisting that the law be amended to,
inter alia, hold workers liable for losses incurred from labour actions.
"UN report says union rights ignored in many countries," DOW JONES
NEWSWIRES, 25 May 2000;
"L'OIT denonce les atteintes a la liberte syndicale," LE FIGARO, 25
"ILO mission opens talks with Government in Myanmar (Burma)," ILO
PRESS RELEASE (ILO/00/18), 23 May 2000;
"Burma discusses forced labour," BBC NEEWSSERVICE, 25 May 2000;
"US threatens to sanction Swaziland for king's hard line on labour
law," AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 25 May 2000;
"Washington, ASEAN differ over trade," REUTERS, 25 May 2000.
RUSSIA QUEUES UP FOR WTO ACCESSION BID
Russia moved one step closer in its bid to join the WTO last week, at the
first meeting in 18 months of the WTO working group on Russian accession.
Russia is currently looking to accelerate its six-year efforts to join the
organisation, and has said that it will make its international obligations
to trade rules a priority in domestic legislation once it has joined to
In working group meetings on Thursday, 25 May, several WTO members raised
questions about the transparency of the country's laws. Japan complained
of conflicting regulations in different Russian regions that make
conducting business there very difficult. The US and New Zealand both
accused Russia of discriminating against their chicken imports because of
a law that states that poultry can only be imported by road. Norway
questioned the solidarity of Russia's legal framework. The EU warned the
Russian party that it will not just look at the quantity of reform
legislation passed in Russia, but at the quality of that legislation. The
US and Japan would like to see any draft legislation proposed in Russia on
areas such as intellectual property rights and technical barriers to
Russia's response to the overall concerns was that Moscow would soon
publish a number of changes in Russian legislation either proposed or in
the process of being ratified by the State Duma, Russia's lower house of
In bilateral meetings with the United States on 26 May, the two countries
discussed Moscow's preliminary market access offers in goods and services
for accession to the WTO. Russia is expected to hold bilateral meetings
with approximately 30 WTO members in the near future, and another formal
meeting of the WTO accession group is planned for December.
In other accession news, Lithuania hopes to conclude negotiations on
joining the WTO by the end of the summer. According to a statement by the
Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, the majority of agricultural issues were
settled in bilateral talks with the US, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand,
and Cuban delegations during negotiations in Geneva on 23-24 May.
Characterised as a "breakthrough," these sessions included discussions on
the trade of products such as beef, poultry, and sugar; it is these
breakthroughs that allow Lithuania to expect to conclude WTO negotiations
Ukraine is pushing to join the WTO and get associated membership status in
the European Union before the end of this year. Prime Minister Yushchenko
was in Brussels last week for talks with EU officials. At that time, 14 of
the 19 trade issues that were still problematic between the EU and Ukraine
were resolved. The Ukranian government promised to resolve the five issues
still outstanding, including review of the country's automobile import
duties and letting foreign producers in to the country's pharmaceutical
market. The EU has pledged to support Ukraine in its bid for WTO accession
and for associated membership status at the EU.
During a two-day meeting last week between the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United States, ASEAN urged the US to support
the early entry of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam to the WTO. In the joint
statement released by the parties, ASEAN emphasised that trade matters
"should not be linked to labour and other non-trade related issues," while
the US maintained that the opening of the trade system must be done "while
improving the living conditions for working people everywhere and
protecting the environment."
On 16 May, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia met with WTO
Director-General Mike Moore. At that time, the Prime Minister said that
Ethiopia must assess the WTO's rules and regulations seriously before
applying for membership. Prime Minister Zenawi said that the prevailing
situation in the country could not allow the nation to fully participate
and fulfill its duties as a member state.
"Russia Discusses Entry to WTO," AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 25 May 2000;
"Russia, United States Make Some Progess in WTO Accession Talks," WTO
REPORTER, 30 May 2000;
"WTO: Russia promises to give priority to trade rules legislation,"
BRIDGENEWS, 25 May 2000;
"Lithuania Hopes to Conclude WTO Membership Negotiations by the End of
the Summer," AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 25 May 2000;
"Ukranian Aide Says Government Plans to Join WTO by the End of the
Year," Oleh Borsuk, BRIDGENEWS, 25 May 2000;
"ASEAN Urges US to Back Early WTO Entry for Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam,"
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 25 May 2000;
"Nepalese Delegation Confident of WTO Membership by 2001," AGENCE
FRANCE-PRESSE, 26 May 2000;
"Ethiopia Needs to Assess WTO Regulations: Meles," THE ETHIOPIAN
HERALD, 17 May 2000.
NEWS FROM THE REGIONS: EUROPE, CENTRAL ASIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST
Leaders from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan met in
mid-May to discuss efforts to launch a Eurasian customs union. Leaders set
a September deadline for establishing the customs union, under which the
five countries would establish a common tariff, customs and tax policy.
The customs union agreement would also bring Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan
and Tajikistan in line with WTO rules on customs duties. Kazakhstan is
already a WTO Member. The May discussions focused on differences between
Russia and its Eurasian partners over Russia's alleged favouring of its
industrial sector in tariff discussions.
Officials from the European Free Trade Association (EFTA, comprising
Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and the Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC, comprising Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the
United Arab Emirates) on 23 May signed a Declaration of Cooperation aimed
at expanding and liberalising free trade between the two groupings.
"Cooperation will be based on the principles of mutual benefit,
non-discrimination and reciprocity, recognising the importance of market
forces and competition," according to an EFTA statement. The two groups
hope to negotiate a free trade agreement "when conditions permit,"
according to the statement.
The EU and GCC on 22 May said that discussions toward an EU-GCC free trade
agreement would resume in June. The EU has insisted that the GCC establish
a customs union before a EU-GCC free trade agreement could be signed. The
EU is the GCC's largest trade partner: the Gulf states are the
fifth-largest export market for EU products, while GCC states are the
largest supplier of oil to the EU.
In other news, EU and Palestinian officials met on 23 May to discuss trade
and cooperation issues. Officials discussed, inter alia, the establishment
of an EU-Palestine free trade area, rules of origin, barriers to trade,
competition policy and intellectual property rights.
The EU and Bangladesh on 22 May signed an economic cooperation accord
aimed at increasing bilateral trade and sustainable development. The
accord extends economic benefits to Bangladesh in return for Bangladesh's
pledge to improve human rights conditions and follow principles outlined
in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
Egypt and Morocco on 23 May signed a cooperation agreement, pledging to
expand the list of goods covered under a 1998 bilateral free trade
"Ex-Soviet states pledge new life for customs union," REUTERS, 23 May
"EU hails Ukrainian government's resolve for reform," AGENCE
FRANCE-PRESSE, 23 May 2000;
"EFTA, Gulf states pledge closer cooperation," REUTERS, 23 May 2000;
"EU-Palestinian Joint Committee holds first meeting, AGENCE
FRANCE-PRESSE, 23 May 2000;
"Ex-Soviet states to meet for tough customs talks," REUTERS, 22 May
2000;"EU- Bangladesh sign cooperation accord based on human rights,"
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 22 May 2000;"Egypt, Moroccan free trade summit sees
six accords signed," AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, 23 May 2000.
An EU Parliament - Council Conciliation Committee on 23 May agreed to
require carmakers to pay the costs of recycling both existing cars and new
cars from the 2001 model year. The EU end-of-life vehicles law would
require car manufacturers to pay costs associated with recycling and other
forms of recovery of end-of-life vehicles, estimated at US$200 per
vehicle. The Committee also agreed to implement from 2003 a ban on lead,
cadmium, mercury and hexavalent chromium in car manufacturing.
"European auto makers must pay to recycle new and existing cars," ENS,
25 May 2000;
"Green light for end-of-life vehicles' directive," EU PRESS RELEASE
(8828/00), 23 May 2000.
Delegates met from 15-26 May in Nairobi, Kenya for the Fifth Conference of
the Parties (COP-5) to the Convention on Biological Diversity. COP-5
considered and adopted 30 decisions on a range of topics, including, inter
alia, access to genetic resources; biodiversity and tourism; progress in
implementing the work programmes on agricultural, inland and water
ecosystems; scientific and technical cooperation; and the Clearing-House
Mechanism (CHM). During discussions, Ethiopia and India highlighted the
issue of intellectual property rights and endorsed the recommendation to
further explore the compatibility of the Convention's objectives with the
WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
(TRIPs). On Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs), many delegates
and NGOs expressed concern over their risks to food security and farmers'
"Fifth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity: 15- 26 May 2000," EARTH NEGOTIATIONS BULLETIN, 29
Civil society representatives from more than 100 countries met from 22- 26
May for the Millennium Forum on how best to help the United Nations
confront the challenges of the 21st Century, with a focus on the
challenges of globalisation. Delegates agreed to a Millennium Forum
Declaration, in which delegates expressed concern for, inter alia, "the
degree to which the international trade regime, under the WTO, is managed
by governments in a way that is secretive and unaccountable to the
people." The participants at the forum called for the International
Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the WTO to be integrated within the UN,
and to democratise all levels of decision-making within those
institutions. The declaration that was adopted by the participants covered
a wide range of items, such as poverty eradication, human rights,
disarmament, environment, globalisation, and strengthening of the UN. At
the Millennium Summit in September, heads of state will discuss the
proposals adopted by the participants.
"Draft Millennium Forum Declaration," 24 May 2000;
"NGOs urge U.N. to abolish veto, absorb IMF, WTO, World Bank," KYODO
NEWS INTERNATIONAL, 27 May 2000;
"Poor Nations At UN Forum Crave Global Econ's Benefits," DOW JONES
INTERNATIONAL NEWS SERVICE via DOW JONES, 27 May 2000.
WTO IN BRIEF
The Philippines Agriculture Secretary Edgardo Angara on 25 May said the
Philippines would move forward with its complaint against Australia for
Australia's ban on Philippine mango, banana and pineapple exports. Mr.
Angara noted that consultations between the two countries failed to settle
the dispute. Australia imposed its ban citing sanitary reasons. The
Philippines implemented a ban on Australian food products from February in
"Philippines to take fruit trade issue vs Australia to WTO," DOW JONES
NEWSWIRES, 25 May 2000.
ON THE MOVE
On 25 May, the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body completed the appointments to
the Appellate Body by selecting Mr. Yasuhei Taniguchi of Japan as a new
member. Mr. Taniguchi replaces Mr. C. Beeby of New Zealand, who passed
away on 19 March. Appellate Body members are usually appointed for a four
year term, but as Mr. Taniguchi is replacing Mr. Beeby, his term is
limited to three and a half years, through December 2003. The appointment
was made in accordance with the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding,
which stipulates that the Appellate Body shall be comprised of individuals
"of recognised authority with demonstrated expertise in law, international
trade, and the subject matter of the WTO agreements generally."
"Second Japanese Appointed to WTO Appellate Body," Kyodo News
International, Inc., 25 May 2000,
"WTO Completes Appointment of Appellate Body Members," WTO Press
Release (Ref: PRESS/179), 25 May 2000.
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 and
written at ICTSD by Elizabeth Stepnowski; written by Judy
Brienza (IATP) and written and edited by Hugo Cameron,
firstname.lastname@example.org. The Director is Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz,
email@example.com. ICTSD is an independent, not-for-profit
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