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Global Trade Watch E-Newsletter #34 - October 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

* GTW to Publish 3rd edition of WTO Guide

Exciting news: Global Trade Watch has decided to rewrite and republish our popular booklet “The World Trade Organisation: An Australian Guide”, last published in 2003. The new guide will have updates on the latest developments at the WTO and will be published in the weeks leading up to the WTO’s December 2005 ministerial in Hong Kong. We are currently raising money to publish 30,000+ copies, which will be distributed FREE to people across Australia. (You can download a PDF of the old 2003 guide here.

If you enjoyed the 2003 guide and would like to help out this time around, there’s number of things you can do:

1) Help fund the guide by sending a cheque to Global Trade Watch, PO Box 6014, Collingwood North, VIC 3066. We have only raised about $7,000 of the $12,000+ we need, so any donation (from organisations or individuals) is very appreciated!

2) Can you help distribute the guide in your workplace or community or family? If so, please email us at [email protected] with the number of booklets (A6 size) you would like us to send you, along with your postal address.

3) If you are a graphic designer who would be able to help us with the booklet’s layout during early November, please email us at [email protected]

We hope the guide will be on the streets by early December. Thanks for any help you can give to make this project a success!

* Win a free ticket to Enron movie: Join Global Trade Watch this week!

GTW is giving away 20 free tickets to “Enron: The smartest guys in the room” It’s the inside story behind the most infamous corporate fraud of all time: the Enron scandal. This givaway is with a big thanks to Dendy Cinemas.

Ten tickets will go to existing GTW members, and 10 tickets will go to the first ten people to post us a membership application. Joining GTW costs as little as $22, and your support helps us to campaign for environmentally sustainable and fair trade! Join by downloading an application form here: http://tradewatch.org.au/membership.pdf and posting it to us at: PO Box 6014, Collingwood North, VIC 3066.

* Neo-Liberal Economic Policies Bad for the Poor

A new report shows that the last 25 years of economic liberalisation have produced sharply reduced economic growth and reduced progress in health and education outcomes for low- and middle-income countries in comparison with previous decades. The “Scorecard on Development: 25 Years of Diminished Progress”, a report from the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, compares data on economic growth of the last 25 years (1980-2005) with the previous two decades (1960-1980). Analysing several social indicators, the report notices a decline in GDP per capita and reduced progress for the vast majority of countries on almost all of the social indicators. The authors argue that the prevailing model of privatisation, liberalisation and the free market "could be mistaken." Download the full report here.

* UN Report: Free Trade in Agriculture "potentially devastating" for environment

Boosting global trade in agriculture could have "potentially devastating" impacts on the environment the UN Environment program (UNEP) has warned. UNEP said free trade agreements that fail to take account the environment can result in negative outcomes such as soil degradation, water pollution, and loss of biodiversity. "The environmental impacts of increased trade in agricultural products are potentially devastating, and countries must urgently establish policies to protect their natural resources as well as those that enable them to reap the economic and social benefits," UNEP declared. Overall, UNEP says, the main "winners" from trade liberalisation were importers, middlemen, and large-scale producers, while the "losers" tended to be local producers, particularly small-scale farmers. UNEP also said consumers were losers in some cases, since price reductions were not passed on to end buyers. Read more here or read the full report here.

* DFAT calls for submissions on WTO negotiations

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has called for public submissions on Australia’s approach to the current World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations. The next WTO Ministerial will be held in Hong Kong from 13 – 18 December. If you're interested in writing a submission (even a short one), it must be sent before Oct 21, and you can send it to Trade Policy Section, DFAT, Barton ACT 0221 or email [email protected] A background paper is available on the DFAT website.

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2) UPCOMING EVENTS

VICTORIA

* 19 & 20 Nov - The Melbourne Social Forum: Your World, Your Future - The Melbourne Social Forum is an annual open space event, and a network for facilitating debate, self-expression and imagination in addressing global issues. In particular for seeking out, articulating and helping to establish more sustainable and just versions of globalisation. WHERE: CERES Environmental Park (8 Lee St, Brunswick East). How Much: Two days $20/ $15 conc, One Day $15/ $10, Organisational $50 – stall & 3 tix. More info: www.melbournesocialforum.org or [email protected]

NSW

Thurs 20 & Fri 21 Oct - Piecing the puzzle: the aid and trade jigsaw: A 2 day seminar with leading Australian campaigners looking at aid and trade policy in the Pacific region - This Seminar, organised by AID/Watch & AFTInet, aims to explore the new and emerging issues within this debate and provide an opportunity for participants to share information on their current focus. This in turn will provide a forum for campaigners, academics and communities to jointly strategise and network. WHERE: Y Hotel, 5-11 Wentworth Ave, Sydney NSW 2000. RSVP: to Kate Walsh [email protected] Cost: $100 full price, $50 concession

* Please email in your upcoming events!

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3) GLOBAL TRADE NEWS

* BILATERAL AND REGIONAL FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS NEWS *

* Victa man warns on China trade deal (Oct 6) - A prominent figure in Melbourne's business community has lashed out at the Federal Government's push for a free trade agreement with China, claiming that it could destroy Victoria's struggling manufacturing sector. Ian Campbell, the managing director of GUD Holdings – the maker of Sunbeam home appliances and Victa lawnmowers – warned that an FTA with China was a "big joke" that could cost thousands of Australians their jobs. More...

* Keeping bugs out of Australia and the system (Sept 30) - Australia has succeeded, through isolation and passionate quarantine management, in creating a clean, green brand name. The bilateral free trade agreements Australia is entering pose an insidious threat to our quarantine standards. Quarantine should not be on the table in bilateral trade negotiations. More...

* Softening mad cow rules criticised (Sept 30) - Weakening Australia's mad cow disease regulations would be an act of economic insanity that would compromise biosecurity, a leading trade analyst says. Professor Linda Weiss, an expert in international economic relations at the University of Sydney, said the move is a "150 per cent guaranteed smokescreen" to cover a section of the US FTA in which Australia agrees to work with international guidelines on BSE which have now been softened. More...

* Australia 'has right to reject produce' (Sept 29) - Australian farmers wanting to keep out Kiwi produce have found an unlikely ally in New Zealand's Green Party which believes that restricting imports is a sovereign right. But the Greens also believe Australia should pay compensation to New Zealand for unfairly banning products via a rewritten Closer Economic Relations (CER) agreement. More...

* Indonesia may sign trade deal (Sept 29) - AUSTRALIA and Indonesia bolstered trading ties today, which could support efforts by Canberra and Wellington to forge a free trade agreement with ASEAN. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile signed a Trade and Investment Framework on the sidelines of an economic conference organised by the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations in the Laos capital of Vientiane. More...

*Japanese FTA market access down played (Sept 22) - Australian farmers are being told they should not expect to get major concessions from a proposed free trade deal (FTA) with Japan. The Federal Government has launched a feasibility study into a possible FTA, but the Australia-Japan Research Centre says there is unlikely to be more access for beef, sugar, or wheat. More...

* Australia seeks FTA with Korea (Sept 9) - Australia is urging South Korea to kick off negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) to facilitate a growing bilateral trade in raw materials, agricultural and manufactured goods, according to a senior Australian official. More...

* WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION NEWS *

* Nations must move first on tariffs: US (Oct 18) - Other nations must dismantle unfair farm trade barriers if they want to see large reductions in US domestic subsidies, says US Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, stressing "this is a package" for freer trade. Getting ready for a second round of meetings aimed at invigorating world trade negotiations, Johanns said Europe and other agricultural trade powers should improve their offers. More...

* Credibility of WTO at stake in trade talks (Oct 17) - A failure to reach agreement at the forthcoming World Trade Organisation meeting in Hong Kong would destroy the WTO's credibility and undermine the international trading system, according to John Tsang, the Hong Kong commerce secretary who will host the conference. More...

* EU matches US farm subsidies offer (Oct 10) - The US today offered to end farm subsidies by 2010 in a bid to claim the moral high ground in stalled world trade talks. Not to be outdone, the EU said it would more than match the American initiative. More...

* US Subsidies Offer “Smoke and Mirrors” (Oct 10) - According to Oxfam, the US "breakthrough offer" on agricultural subsidies would allow the US to "get away with doing next to nothing." The US proposed to cut its agricultural subsidies by only 2%, while continuing to urge poor countries to open their markets, particularly on services. More...

* WORLD BANK / IMF NEWS *

* SEEN Reviews the 2005 World Bank Annual Meeting (Sept 28) - At the 2005 annual meeting, the World Bank attempted to stake a claim of leadership in the global climate debate. According to the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, while the Bank talks a lot about climate-friendly formulas, in practice, it supports export-oriented oil extraction. More...

* IMF should give up development and trade policy, says expert (Sept 21) - The IMF should give up its lending and policy activities relating to development and trade, and instead return to its original mandate of safeguarding international financial stability, according to a set of proposals by Dr. Yilmaz Akyuz, former Chief Economist of UNCTAD in a paper presented to a Group of 24 meeting in Washington on 15-16 September. More...

* World Bank Calls for Market-Driven Equality (Sept 20) - The World Bank's 2006 World Development Report recognizes that economic growth and development benefit from a society where all citizens have equal opportunities. The report goes on to argue that market mechanisms can address the problem of inequity. NGO representatives point out that the report represents a "fundamental contradiction" of the Bank's policies, as the institution's market-oriented policies have in fact caused the inequalities. More...

* IMF Policies Thwart Poverty Goals (Sept 19) - Two reports from ActionAid International warn that International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies threaten poor countries both politically and economically. To achieve the Millennium Development Goals, governments need to increase their expenditures on social and health programs, but the IMF imposes strict constraints on their public spending. Once again, as in the past, "government decisions are subordinate to the IMF rules and directions." More...

* 9 out of 10 World Bank Poverty Reduction Programmes Demand Privatisation (Sept 19) - The World Bank designed the Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRSPs) to replace the much criticized Structural Adjustment Programmes, which the Bank imposed on countries during 1980s and 1990s. A report from World Development Movement (WDM) finds that the "PRSPs contain on average six of nine classic Washington Consensus policy prescriptions." The only difference between PRSPs and the Washington Consensus is that these policies are now defended hypocritically as "country-owned." More...

* Contradicting Commitments: How the Achievement of Education for All is Being Undermined by the International Monetary Fund (Sept 05) - Full Report here.

* OTHER GLOBAL TRADE NEWS *

Why Did the Poorest Countries Fail to Catch Up? (Oct 05) - Despite the promises made by globalization, in the last twenty years the world’s poorest countries have fallen further behind the rich. This paper debunks current development theories that explain why poorer countries have not reaped the rewards of global economic integration. It finds that the higher likelihood of poor countries to be involved in wars and civil conflicts is the most important determinant for their lack of growth while, surprisingly, the effects of domestic reforms or international lending were minimal. Full Paper Here.

* No Dirty Gold Campaign Launches New Ad Campaign (11 Oct) - This week, the No Dirty Gold campaign took out the first in a series of ads to be published in national publications. The ads call on jewelry firms, and other businesses that use gold, to insist the gold they buy—and sell—is produced in ways that do not harm communities, workers, and the environment. More...

* Nestle launch of Fairtrade coffee divides company's critics (Oct 7) - Nestle, the world's largest and most ethically questioned food and drink company, yesterday launched a Fairtrade-certified coffee brand in Britain. But the initiative divided the company's critics, some of whom congratulated it for encouraging the growth of fair trade, while others said it was a cynical attempt to improve the company's global reputation. More...

* EU Urged to Halt Regional Agreements (Sep 27) - As European Union trade chief Peter Mandelson prepares to kick off a new phase of trade negotiations in the Caribbean this week, trade groups are asking the bloc to shelve regional agreements in order to avoid a "development disaster". More...

* The price of going to market: Mexico’s Lessons for Asia (19 Sept) - Last year was the tenth anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and nearly all evaluations of the agreement conceded that the period showed negligible or negative results for Mexico. As the developing country partner of the agreement, Mexico’s experience under NAFTA has major implications for other developing nations negotiating FTA’s, particularly with the United States. More...

* John Ralston Saul: The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World (14 Sept) - Some people are surprised by the idea that globalism could be collapsing; after all the discourse out there is pretty assertive when it comes to the inevitability and the permanence and the success of globalism. And so the arguments usually are you’re for it or against it, but not Is it working, or Is it collapsing, or indeed Could it even collapse? More...

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4) WHAT CAN YOU DO?

* Help stop the privatisation of Ghana’s Water

With your help the Ghana National Coalition against the Privatisation of Water (NCAP) has successfully forced several companies to withdraw their bids on the Ghana water privatisation project AND stalled the project for 4 years.  Now, we are calling on you again to take one more action to stop the final bidding companies from privatising Ghana’s water. Click here to take action and save Ghana's water.

* Email George Bush and help African Farmers

E-mail George Bush and demand he implement the recent legally binding WTO ruling, which will help West African farmers and their families work their way out of poverty. Click here.

* Tell Nestle to End Child Slavery on Cocoa Farms

In addition to being one of the largest chocolate companies in the world, Nestle S.A. is also one of the largest importers of cocoa from regions affected by child slavery. Nestle USA is a subsidiary of Nestle S.A. which through Nestle Cote d'Ivoire owns administrative offices and sales outlet in the Cote d'Ivoire. Click here to fax Nestle USA CEO Joe Weller today and demand they take their responsibility for child slavery on their farms seriously by using fair trade certified cocoa.

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5) WEBSITE OF THE MONTH

* Tax Justice Network - The Tax Justice Network (TJN) is a non-aligned coalition of researchers and activists with a shared concern about the negative impacts of tax avoidance, tax competition and tax havens. Tax is the forgotten issue in the debate about how to tackle poverty and must be added to trade, debt and aid if the world is serious about meeting the Multilateral Development Goals. Massive tax avoidance and illicit capital flight by companies and wealthy individuals in poor countries is costing the developing world US$500 billion per year in lost revenue – a sum that dwarfs annual overseas aid: http://www.taxjustice.net

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6) QUOTE OF THE MONTH

"The environmental impacts of increased trade in agricultural products are potentially devastating, and countries must urgently establish policies to protect their natural resources as well as those that enable them to reap the economic and social benefits."
- United Nations Environment Program


© Global Trade Watch
PO Box 6014, Collingwood North,
Victoria 3066, Australia
Email: [email protected]
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