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Global Trade Watch E-Newsletter #30 - May 2005

NB: This is an archived newsletter. Information may no longer be current, and links to other sites may not always work.

Contents:

1) News from Global Trade Watch
2) Upcoming Events
3) Global Trade News
4) What Can You Do?
5) Website of the Month
6) Quote of the Month

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1) NEWS FROM GLOBAL TRADE WATCH

* E-Newsletter goes Monthly

You may have noticed that this is the first GTW E-Newsletter for a while - our apologies for this hiatus - we’re back for good now.

But some changes are afoot.  The most significant one is that after after almost two years of this being a fortnightly e-newsletter, the GTW E-Newsletter will now become a monthly.  The good news is that it will will be more packed than ever with heaps of information and ideas for action.  Our apologies to those of you who enjoy reading it more regularly.

We’re also looking to make some content changes to the e-newsletter, like including more original content focusing on the impacts of the WTO and regional trade agreements on Australians and people and environments around the world.  (We've also re-introduced our "quote of the month" which has been missing-in-action for a while).  If you have any ideas about making the E-Newsletter easier to read, more informative or more enjoyable, please send them through to [email protected]

Also, if you’d be intested in writing for the GTW E-newsletter on a casual or regular basis, please email us at [email protected]

- The GTW Team

* Australia Opposes new Representative to Tackle Corporations & Human Rights

In a move which should embarrass all Australians, the Howard Government has joined the USA and South Africa as the only countries to vote against the appointment of a United Nations special representative on issues of human rights, transnational corporations and other business enterprises (Sth Africa was demanding a stronger resolution).  Despite Australia’s decision to vote against 49 other members of the UN Human Rights Commission, the April 15 resolution was passed. 

The new UN special representative will identify standards of responsibility and accountabily for multinational corporations with regard to human rights, with a possible outcome being the creation of binding human rights rules for multinational corporations.  Many corporations like Nike and Shell currently freely abuse human rights in the developing and developed worlds.  The Howard government’s embarrassing behaviour and subservience to big business interests went unreported in the Australian media.  Read the full UN resolution here: http://www.globalpolicy.org/socecon/tncs/2005/0415unchrbusiness.pdf

* Get Involved for Global Justice

There’s an incredible number of events happening around Australia during May to highlight the inequalities of the global economic system and to publicise alternatives.  Why not get involved and head along to something?  Events are listed below...

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2) UPCOMING EVENTS

VICTORIA

* Saturday 14 May, 10:00am – 4:00pm - World Fairtrade Day Carnival, Melbourne CBD - Fairtrade market place, music, carnival, free samples of Fair Trade coffee, tea, chocolate. Fair Wear, Sweatshop-Free Clothing and more. WHERE: City Square, Melbourne CBD.

* Saturday 14 May, 12.30 pm - Forum with Chico Whitaker: "Another world is possible, new global justice networks and us" - Francisco 'Chico' Whitaker is Co-founder and International Secretary of the World Social Forum and Executive Director of the Brazilian Catholic Bishops Committee for Justice and Peace. WHERE: This will be at The Wellington Hall, 46 Otter St Collingwood. Cost $10 and $5 unwaged (includes BBQ lunch). Further info: 9489 4387 or [email protected]

* Thurs 19 May, 8pm+ - FairTrade Funkathon - Fair Trade Association, presents a Fundraiser for coffee farmers in tsunami affected regions, and to celebrate the end of a fantastic fairtrade fortnight!! Includes Hopeful Poet, Merri Delta Blues Band, Mihirangi, DJ Jesse, Terraphonic DJs as well as speakers Bruce Francis from OXFAM, and Brett Inder from People for FairTrade. WHERE: Prince Alfred Hotel, corner Grattan and Bouverie Streets, Carlton. More info? Email: [email protected]

* Thurs 19 May, 7:30 - Tariq Ali speaks on "Globalisation & democracy after Iraq" - WHERE: RMIT Story Hall, Swanston St, City, Tickets $15 / $8 from Readings Carlton. Telephone bookings 96623744 and at door if not fully booked. Supported by: Victorian Peace Network: 0429792274, RMIT Globalism Institute and NTEU RMIT Branch.

* July 30-31: Conference: Advance Australia Fair: Building Sustainability, Justice and Peace - More than ever, workers rights, the environment, democratic institutions, indigenous peoples, women and students are coming under pressure from neo-conservative economic and social policies, and war. Only by coming together can we support and strengthen the movements that we are a part of, and start to turn the tide. WHERE: Melbourne Trades Hall, 54 Victoria St, Carlton South. Visit http://www.nowwethepeople.org to register.

NEW SOUTH WALES

* Mon 16 May, 6:30pm - Sydney Social Forum Presents Chiko Whitaker - Francisco 'Chico' Whitaker is Co-founder and International Secretary of the World Social Forum and Executive Director of the Brazilian Catholic Bishops Committee for Justice and Peace, Chico will be speaking in Sydney for the Sydney Social Forum. WHERE: Tom Mann Theatre, 136 Chalmers St, Surry Hills. More info: http://www.sydneysocialforum.org/2005/worlddebtday.htm

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

* 17 May - 7:30pm: Globalization & Democracy After Iraq: lecture by Tariq Ali - WHERE: Fremantle Town Hall (hosted by the WA Peace Network). Tickets: 9472 8261.

* 18 May, 7-8.30pm: Fair Trade Evening - As part of Fair Trade Fortnight Oxfam campaigner, Vanya Bromilow, will be speaking at a Fair Trade evening organized by World Vision in conjunction with the Development Network. Come along to hear a variety of speakers talking about Fair Trade and how it can play a vital role in effecting economic and social change in the developing world. For Venue, please call 9262 8211

* Please email in your upcoming events!

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3) GLOBAL TRADE NEWS

* BILATERAL AND REGIONAL FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS NEWS *

* Questions raised over benefit to Australia of trade deal with China (29 Apr) - A former leader of Australia's governing Liberal party, John Hewson, has questioned whether a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China will provide any great benefits for Australian exporters. More...

* Australia can't trade fairly with China (Apr 24) - It is a lie that China is a free market economy and that Australia can trade fairly with it, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) secretary Doug Cameron says. The conditions and lack of rights for workers in the emerging Chinese economy were so poor that Australia could never compete, he said. More...

* Vegie growers face $500m a year FTA loss (Apr 22) - Vegetable growers stood to lose $500 million a year and 5,000 jobs if Australia struck a free trade deal with China, the industry says. AUSVEG, which represents the nation's 4,300 vegetable growers, said at least 900 growers would be forced out of the industry if the deal went ahead. More...

* Car component suppliers will lose out in China FTA, says union (Apr 20) -  The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) says a free trade agreement (FTA) with China will force South Australian car component suppliers to shut down. The union says 2,000 workers are employed in South Australia by small companies supplying the Holden and Mitsubishi factories. More...

* Anti-dumping rules and the Australia–China Free Trade Agreement (Mar 14) - For China, a recurring issue affecting bilateral trade relations is Australia’s anti-dumping rules. Over the last decade, imports from China have been subject to more anti-dumping action than those from any major industrialised or developing country. The Australian Parliamentary Library examines Australia’s anti-dumping rules as they apply to China and discusses the likely changes that will result from an FTA with China. More (PDF)...

 

* WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION NEWS *

* Move by WTO 'is threat to food aid' (May 10) - Moves in the World Trade Organisation to stop the dumping of agricultural surpluses under the guise of food aid could put genuine assistance at risk just as the need for it is rising, the World Food Programme warned yesterday. More...

* Backdown unblocks farm tariff talks (May 6) - A last-minute backdown by the European Union has rescued the struggling Doha Round trade negotiations from another crisis, opening the way for the World Trade Organisation to make big cuts to farm protection. More...

* Shadow of Wolfowitz Hangs over WTO amid US-EU Bargain Fears (Apr 4) - Poor countries fear that the European Union agreed to back Paul Wolfowitz for World Bank President in exchange for US support for the EU candidate to head the World Trade Organization (WTO). The alleged deal would mean continuing the undemocratic practice in which the United States nominates the head of the World Bank while the Europeans get to choose who leads the WTO, overlooking poor countries' candidates for the WTO top post. More...

* The End of an Illusion: WTO Reform, Global Civil Society and the Road to Hong Kong (Mar 31) - The “July Framework Agreement” is the last nail in the coffin of the illusion that the WTO can somehow be reformed, either piecemeal or comprehensively, to serve the interests of developing countries. More than ever, the Framework and its aftermath have revealed the WTO to be an iron cage that traps developing countries in a negotiations game that is systematically skewed in favor of the big trading powers of the North. More...

* Bhagwati, Globalization and Hunger (Mar 29) - Could the infamous agricultural subsidies actually benefit consumers in poor countries by making food imports cheaper? Cheaper imported food will not help the three billion farmers in poor countries as long as rich nations' subsidies prevent them from earning enough money to buy the imports. More...

* Planting the Rights Seed (Mar 2005) - The vast majority of people in poor countries earn their living from agriculture, yet the World Trade Organization's (WTO) liberalization agenda focuses more on increasing production and trade rather than improving the livelihoods of food producers. This joint report from Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and 3D examines the WTO's Agreement on Agriculture and its impact on poor countries and their agricultural producers from a human rights perspective. More...

* End Farm Export Subsidies in 5 Years, G-20 Says (Mar 19) - The G20 group of poor countries urges rich nations to scrap all export subsidies "as fast as possible" and no later than within five years. Poor countries have repeatedly accused the European Union and the United States of using subsidies to dump farm produce on world markets and erecting high tariff barriers to keep out cheaper exports. Aid groups believe the uniform message from G20 countries could have a lot of leverage in the run-up to the World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Hong Kong in December 2005. More...

 

* WORLD BANK / IMF NEWS *

* An Exercise in Stalemate? (Apr 20) - This article summarizes the developments in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund 2005 spring meetings. According to the article, the meetings' results reveal a "decision-making machinery in crises." In spite of high expectations, the participants achieved almost nothing in the areas of debt cancellation for poor countries, innovative sources of finance, governance of international financial institutions, and trade. More...

* I'm with Wolfowitz (Apr 5) - George Monbiot argued that Liberal handwringing over the World Bank simply reflects a failure to recognise the role it exists to fulfil. More...

* Long Due Reform? The International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and Global Economic Governance 60 Years Later (Apr 2005) - Recognizing that the global governance architecture must be geared towards the promotion of the common good, CIDSE and Caritas Internationalis, continue to call for serious reconsideration of the role of the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) in light of the principles of solidarity, subsidiarity and a preferential option for the poor. More...

* IMF Presses Case for Gold Sales to Help Relieve Debt Burden of Poorest Countries (Mar 31) - The IMF says its shareholders could use carefully planned sales of Fund's gold to pay for debt relief for poor countries. While some European governments favor the idea of limited gold sales, it will unlikely gain support from the Fund's largest shareholder, the United States. To many NGOs' great frustration, the disagreement between rich nations now threatens to block negotiations on more significant debt relief for poverty-stricken countries of the South. More...

* Eradicate poverty? Not our job, Sorry (Mar 21) - The World Bank has such a soft and reassuring name. It conjures up images of smiling cashiers serving the people of India, perfumed personal bankers offering mortgages to Guatemala, and a water-cooler in the corner for sub-Saharan Africa. Let me take you on a tour of the real World Bank. More...

* The World Bank Will Spread Misery and Deprivation Whoever Is in Charge (Mar 18) - The World Bank's true problem is not who leads the organization but the Bank's undemocratic structures and the neoliberal ideology that guides its policies. "You could put the Archangel Gabriel in charge of the World Bank as it is currently constituted, and it would make little difference". Things can change only if the head of the Bank became answerable to the people over whom he exercises so much power instead of the "Bush-Halliburton White House." More...

 

* OTHER GLOBAL TRADE NEWS *

* Elite Protectionists (Mar 24) - The rapidly swelling trade deficit has prompted even some US free traders to demand tariffs on Chinese imports unless the country agrees to let its undervalued currency appreciate. These initiatives could mark "the start of a break from the era of US-led globalization in which Washington preached unfettered trade to the rest of the world" and "ignite a more honest public debate on globalization," More...

* Unocal Settles Human Rights Lawsuit (Mar 22) - Unocal Corporation finalized settlement of the "landmark" lawsuit filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act on behalf of 15 Myanmar villagers; victims of human rights abuses committed by troops assigned to protect the Unocal pipeline route. Some observers have hailed the settlement as a human rights victory, but others believe a trial would have shed more light on international corporate human rights abuses. More...

* Banana wars (Mar 16) - Bananas are crucial to the former British colonies of the Windward Islands, but these tiny Caribbean communities face economic ruin from changes in world trade laws and rival suppliers targeting UK supermarkets with inferior, cut-price produce. More...

* US tries to sink forests plan (Mar 16) - The US plans to wreck a British initiative to commit the G8 states to combatting trade in forest products from the world's threatened rainforests, a leaked memorandum revealed last night. More...

* Guatemala protests delay trade pact with U.S. (Mar 9) - Protesters clashed with  police for several hours outside the Guatemalan Congress on  Tuesday, forcing lawmakers to postpone debate on a contentious  free-trade agreement with the United States. More...

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4) WHAT CAN YOU DO?

* Send an email message to the Australian Trade Minister about the China Free Trade Agreement

A form letter you can send to express your concern about the Australia-China FTA: http://www.aftinet.org.au/campaigns/chinafta_letter_dec2004.htm

* Send An E-Card to ask the IMF/World Bank to forgive poor countries’ debt

While claiming to fight poverty the IMF and World Bank are draining the lifeblood out of the poorest countries in debt payments. The IMF and World Bank are the most significant creditors of the poorest countries in our world. Demand that these powerful institutions cancel the debt of the poorest of the poor - Send an e-card NOW: http://www.debtireland.org/campaigns/cancel-debt-campaign.htm

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5) WEBSITE OF THE MONTH

* Asia-Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development - APWLD is an independent, non-government, non-profit organization. It is committed to enabling women to use law as an instrument of social change for equality, justice and development.         
http://www.apwld.org

* Activista: A New Grassroots Search Engine for Activists! - Activista is a search engine focused on activist resources and vegetarian/vegan recipes. Comprised exclusively of social change websites, Activista helps people quickly find the activist information they search for.
http://www.activista.org

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6) QUOTE OF THE MONTH

"'The poor are far more vulnerable to shifts in relative international prices, and this vulnerability is magnified by the country's openness to trade... at least in the short term, globalisation appears to increase both poverty and inequality."
- World Bank, "The Simultaneous Evolution of Growth & Inequality" (2000).


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