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Global Trade Watch E-Newsletter #39 - April 2006

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) Good News for (a) Change
3) Upcoming Events
4) Global Trade News

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1) NEWS FROM GLOBAL TRADE WATCH

* It’s Fair Trade Fortnight!!

Fair Trade Fortnight is the biggest event promoting fair trade in Australia and New Zealand, and runs from 29th April to 13th May. An exciting array of events are planned, including a speaking tour of coffee farmers from Papua New Guinea and cocoa farmers from Ghana; “Connections - Strengthening ties in the fight for fair trade”, a trans-Tasman student conference; tastings; public displays and exhibitions; morning teas; the launch of the first Fair Trade Community in Australia/NZ; schools seminars; and much more. Get out there and support one of the great alternatives to the damaging global free-trade system!

Check out the Upcoming Events section below for some of the Fair Trade Fortnight events, or visit http://www.fairtrade.com.au/ftf06 for a full listing.

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2) GOOD NEWS FOR (A) CHANGE

* Union Carbide’s Bhopal Victims Win Landmark Clean-Up!

After more than 20 years of fighting for justice, victims of the Union Carbide corporation’s 1984 disaster in Bhopal, India have been promised a clean-up of the site and clean drinking water by the Indian government. The poison gas leak at the Union Carbide pesticide factory in 1984 has killed more than 20,000 people, and the site still remains poisoned. Union Carbide is now a subsidiary of Dow Chemical company.

The win for survivors was the result of a month-long march from Bhopal to Delhi by a group of survivors of the disaster and other campaigners, and the support and pressure from people around the world. The march was followed by a hunger-strike in Delhi. The clean-up is estimated to cost between $35 million and $500 million. More...

For more about the Bhopal disaster and over 20 years of its impacts, see http://www.bhopal.net

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3) UPCOMING EVENTS

VICTORIA

* Thursday 4 May, 7:30pm - Global Implications of the WTO Regime - Jagjit Plahe, Lecturer in International Trade Policy, Faculty of Business and economics, Monash University. Presented by The United Nations Association of Australia, Victorian Division. WHERE: Balwyn Library, 336 Whitehorse Road, Balwyn (Melway 46 E8).

* Fri 5 May, 11am-12pm - Papua New Guinea Coffee Farmers: Public Presentation - Come and hear first hand about the benefits of Fairtrade to the coffee farming communities in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Henry Ame the General Manger of Coffee Connections in Goroka and Daniel Kinne, Chairperson of the Highlands Organic Agriculture Co-operative talk about coffee in the Papuan New Guinea Highlands. WHERE: Oxfam office, Level 2, 156 George Street, Fitzroy.

* 5-7th May - "Strengthening ties in the fight for fair trade": The Inaugural National Student Fair Trade Conference - This is the inaugural National Students for Fair Trade Conference, and will bring together Australian students for workshops, speakers, debates, documentaries and theatre performances about the critical issues surrounding global social and economic inequality. Supported by Oxfam and the Fair Trade Association, the conference will seek to expose the dark realities of a global "free-trade" economic order, from which arises the existence of drastically unequal living standards between the "Developed" and "Developing" world. In particular, there will be a focus on the plight of small-scale farmers in the globally traded commodities of coffee, chocolate and tea, with guest speakers including Papua New Guinean Coffee Farmers from the Highlands Organic Coffee Cooperative, enabling students to hear directly from those most affected by the vagaries of oscillating world prices and how we as consumers in the West can respond and make a difference. For more info and registration details, visit http://conference.hooked.org.au

* Thurs 11th May, 5-7pm - World Fairtrade day and the Trading Circle product Launch - The Trading Circle invites you to celebrate World Fairtrade Day with the launch of their new line from Laos. The finest quality hand-woven and naturally dyed silk scarves with traditional weaves and designs. Guest Speaker 6pm Boby Vonsinthavong, the Australian representative of Lao Sericulture and Phontong Handicraft Cooperative. WHERE: 361 Victoria St, Abbotsford. RSVP by emailing brigidc[at]infoexchange.net.au

* Mon 15th May, 6-8:30pm - Dance and Film night with Cocoa Farmers and Coffee Film - Watercarriers Dance Theatre presents the darker side of chocolate and afterwards we will have the rare opportunity to hear Cocoa Farmers Erica Kyere and Agnes Abrafi from Kuapa Kokoo tell their story about Fairtrade cocoa benefits farmers in Ghana. There will also be a screening of ‘One Cup at a Time’ Set in East Timor, this documentary traces the direct effect that purchasing decisions made by Australians can have on the lives of farmers in developing countries. Learn from the farmers in East Timor. WHERE: The Erwin Radio Cinema 1st Floor, 207 Johnston Street, Fitzroy. For more info about the film visit http://www.thescarab.org

NSW

* Mon 8th May, 10.30-11.30am - Fairtrade Coffee Sack Race: Join us in the sack! - Single Origin will be hosting a community sack race in the lane in front of their cafe, Fairtrade coffee sacks will be provided for everyone (including 2 coffee producers here from HOAC in PNG) to join in and have a sack race. Fairtrade coffee and chocolate provided. WHERE: 60 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills.

* Mon 8 May 12pm - Papua New Guinean Coffee Farmers: Lunch and Talk - Come and hear first hand about the benefits of Fairtrade to the coffee farming communities in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Henry Ame the General Manger of Coffee Connections in Goroka and Daniel Kinne, Chairperson of the Highlands Organic Agriculture Co-operative talk about Fairtrade coffee in the Papuan New Guinea Highlands. WHERE: Oxfam Office, Level 3, 25 Cooper Street, Surry Hills.

* Tues 9 May, 7:30-11:00am - Fair Trade in Manly: Taste and Go - Commuters, local residents and local cafes are invited to turn up for a free cup of Fairtrade coffee! Information and display set up, Mayor of Manly, Dr Peter McDonald and Erica Kyere to talk at 9:30am, free raffle of Hamper of fair trade goodies, free guessing competition for “Guess the Number of Coffee Beans in the Jar.” WHERE: The Corso, Manly (Adjacent to Manly Council Chambers).

* Tues 9 May, 6-9pm - Fairtrade Fiesta with Kylie Kwong and Ghanian Fairtrade Cocoa farmers - Join Kylie Kwong and visiting cocoa producers from Ghana, Erica Kyere is a research and development officer at Kuapa Kokoo, who focuses on education projects and Agnes Abrafi is a cocoa farmer from the Eastern District in Ghana. The evening will include Fair Trade market stalls, coffee, tea, chocolate tastings, wine, cocktails, food provided by celebrity chef Kylie Kwong, Kylie Kwong Cooking demonstration and the premier screening of a new short documentary "One Cup at a Time" about coffee farmers in East Timor by Scarab Productions. WHERE: Paddington Town Hall 249a Oxford St Paddington.

ACT

* Thursday 11 May, 6-8pm - Trade Justice & Development Workshop - A workshop for those interested in the relationship between trade, poverty and development and how they can work to promote and secure greater trade justice for those in poor communities. Appealing to a wide audience from all age groups, backgrounds, and organisational affiliations, workshop participants will hear from two Ghanian cocoa producers about their experiences and how trade impacts on their communities. Representatives from the Fair Trade Association and the Centre for Governance of Knowledge and Development will also provide information and ideas to catalyse discussion. For RSVPs and more information, contact Cameron Neil 0402 072 452 or [email protected] Cost: $5, with fairtrade tea, coffee and chocolate provided. WHERE: First Floor, Room 7, Griffin Centre, Genge Street, Canberra City

* Fri 12th May, 12-1.30pm - Women Empower Women: From Cocoa Bean to Chocolate Bar - ACT’s Minister for Women, Katie Gallagher, will host a lunch reception for local ACT women and women’s organisations to highlight how women in the ACT can help empower and make a positive difference to the lives of women worldwide living in poverty - by buying Fairtrade chocolate. Two female Ghanaian cocoa producers from Kuapa Kokoo, a Fairtrade producer cooperative, will explain how Fairtrade has empowered them and had a direct impact on their lives and the lives of their children and families. Lunch and coffee from women-only coffee-cooperative in Peru will be provided. Lucky-door prizes include: Cocolo chocolate hampers and Kylie’s Kwong’s latest recipe book. WHERE: Place Exhibition Space, ACT Legislative Assembly. More info: email Anna.Hutchens[at]anu.edu.au

* Fri 12th May, 7pm - Fairtrade Film & Food Night - ANU Fair Trade Group will be hosting a showing of film "The Constant Gardener". Fairtrade teas, chocolates & coffee on sale, and an info stall on Fairtrade products and other useful information. Gold coin donation entry. Fair Trade Hamper being raffled (hamper full of yummy Fairtrade chocolates, coffees & teas), so bring your pennies ‘to be in it to win it’! WHERE: Place Manning Clarke Theatre #5 or #6, ANU. More info: email Ben Lyon:, u4124855[at]anu.edu.au

QUEENSLAND

* 19-21 May - Brisbane Social Forum - The BSF is a space to create an alternative public debate. Imagine alternatives. Create and share visions of local and global democracy that will inspire people to work for another world. Speakers include Robert Jensen - journalism professor and author, Henry Reynolds - labour historian and social commentator, Lillian Holt - Aboriginal educator and public speaker, David Bradbury - internationally renowned film maker, Kim Pate - Canadian women's rights activist, Humphrey McQueen - labour historian and social commentator, Charandev Singh - Human Rights and Indigenous Education advocate, Debbie Kilroy - prison abolitionist and women's rights campaigner. WHERE: Aung Sun Suu Kyi Building, University of Queensland Student Union, St Lucia. More info: http://www.brisbanesocialforum.org

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4) GLOBAL TRADE NEWS

* WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION NEWS *

* A recipe for disaster: Will the Doha Round fail to deliver for development? (Apr 2006). As yet another deadline approaches in the Doha Round of trade negotiations, the chances of a deal being done this year that helps developing countries are looking increasingly slim. Aggressive demands by rich countries mean that, far from being able to pursue reforms that will lift people out of poverty, poor countries are having to engage in damage limitation. Unless the substance of the offers on the table changes radically, then no deal should be signed in 2006. Full report...

* WTO talks are failing the poor: Oxfam (Apr 27) - The WTO's Doha Round of trade liberalisation talks, which was launched in an effort to help developing countries, is going badly off track, the advocacy group Oxfam International warned today. Jeremy Hobbs, the head of the British-based network, accused rich countries of offering too little to poor nations and of asking too much in return. "We think that's a recipe for disaster". More...

* WTO Chief Pushes Officials for June Agreement (Apr 27) - Gloom about prospects for a global trade agreement has been deepening by the day, with a major negotiating deadline passing this week and the United States changing its trade representative. But the head of the World Trade Organization, far from giving up, is laying out new plans for completing a deal this year -- while warning that it is probably the last good chance for a long time. More...

* Delegates try to kickstart Doha round (Apr 24) - Delegates will meet at the World Trade Organisation's HQ in Geneva today to decide how the next few weeks will pan out after WTO chief Pascal Lamy announced on Friday that a "mini-ministerial", originally scheduled to wrap a deal up next weekend, would not take place for lack of anything concrete to agree on. More...

* Blair prepares for the failure of global trade talks (Apr 11) - Tony Blair is holding intensive talks with George Bush and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to prepare for an expected crisis in the global trade liberalisation talks at the end of the month, it emerged yesterday. More...

* BILATERAL AND REGIONAL FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS NEWS *

* Keep the FTA away from our plasma (Apr 25) - What possible rationale could there be for introducing competition into a system that, to date, has provided one of the safest blood systems in the world? More...

* US trade deal failing some Aussie firms (Apr 19) - Australia's free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States is only benefiting businesses with well-established links, Australia's peak industry group says. More...

* Offshore blood supply too risky: ALP (Apr 19) - Labor said it shared the Red Cross' concerns about the safety of Australia's blood supply if processing was moved offshore. Labor health spokeswoman Julia Gillard today said "Under the United States Free Trade Agreement, the Government is reviewing our blood fractionation arrangements and appears to be contemplating allowing Australians to have blood products dealt with offshore. It's not safe and we don't want Australia's blood supply polluted." More...

* Blocks to UAE trade deal (Apr 11) - The United Arab Emirates is demanding that any free-trade agreement with Australia include the same high foreign investment thresholds as Canberra granted to the US. Negotiations for what would be Australia's first FTA in the Middle East are focused on the investment obstacles on both sides. Australia is facing resistance in its push to increase the UAE's 49 per cent foreign investment limit in key areas like energy and mining services. More...

* Mexico, Canada have seen few benefits in US FTA, says report (Apr 10) - A state-run research center said Monday that some of the countries that signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States have lost their export competitiveness. More...

* FTA may threaten furniture makers (Apr 6) - A free trade deal with China would be a big threat to Victorian furniture manufacturers because China already seems to be dumping its product in Australia, the industry has warned. More...

* ADB attacks bilateral trade deals (Apr 6) - The Asian Development Bank warned on Thursday that a further spread of discriminatory bilateral trade agreements could harm growth prospects for Asia’s emerging economies. More...

* Doubts Grow About Future of Global Talks (Apr 4) - An influential U.S. lawmaker has declared the multilateral trade talks under the umbrella of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) a failure and urged the George W. Bush administration to fast-track country-to-country trade pacts. More...

* WORLD BANK / IMF NEWS *

* Critics Plan Offensive as IMF-World Bank Crisis Deepens (Apr 26) - The spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund took place this weekend with police barricades ringing the two institutions at the heart of Washington, DC. There were almost no protesters in sight. The action was indoors, a few blocks away, at the Institute for Policy Studies. There, the opposition was putting the final touches to a global campaign to “disempower” the two institutions. More...

* IMF - World Bank: Donor Nations to Focus on Growing States (Apr 24) - At the annual Spring Meeting of the IMF and the World Bank, the IMF's 184 member countries authorized proposals that will increase the influence of a few emerging economies, such as China and Turkey. However, the US will probably oppose any significant decrease of its 17% share in votes, since it benefits from being the Fund's only veto power. More...

* Oil crisis gives energy to new world order (Apr 24) - Last Friday was the 60th anniversary of the death of Maynard Keynes, one of the founding fathers of the IMF. There is now a chance that the fund can return to Keynes's original blueprint: an organisation that seeks to sort out the macro-economic problems of the global economy in a symmetrical fashion, with both debtor and creditor nations having responsibility to take policy measures to cure imbalances. More...

* Rich Nations Use IMF-World Bank Meet to Advance Own Agenda (Apr 24) - Developing nations left the weekend's joint meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) with few gains, while the rich countries that dominate the boards of the two lenders managed to shape the agenda almost entirely to serve their own interests, say analysts here. More...

* IMF Prescriptions Bad for Health, Say Activists (Apr 22) - The Western-dominated International Monetary Fund (IMF), whose credibility with some of its largest clients is eroding because of what they consider counter-productive economic policy advice, is facing renewed accusations that its prescriptions have compounded major health crises. More...

* World Bank approves $37 billion in debt relief (Apr 8) - World Bank member nations approved $37 billion in debt relief for 17 countries at the end of March. The 40-year debt cancellation deal begins 1 July, covering debts accumulated before January 2004 of those countries that have completed the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative (HIPC). More...

* Fighting For Alternatives: Cases of successful trade union resistance to the policies of the IMF and World Bank (Apr 6) - Over the past five years, labour unions and their civil society allies in Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia have successfully organized to win important victories over the private interests that depend on IMF & WB loans to set the conditions for corporate control over water, electric power and other basic services. Full Report...

* OTHER TRADE & GLOBAL JUSTICE NEWS *

* Can Globalization Fail? Lessons from History (Apr 26) - As happened with the "first globalization" and its Wall Street Crash of 1929, an economic rather than a political crisis could reverse today's process of globalization. But this time, the crisis is more likely to errupt from global economy's dependence on transnational corporations (TNCs) than from global financial imbalances. While relying highly on the middle-class consuming their goods, TNCs at the same time undermine middle-class people's ability to consume by moving ever more "white-collar" jobs to poorer countries. More...

* Trading quarantine (Apr 23) - Whatever happened to quarantine? As an island nation, free from many of the pests and diseases that have devastated other parts of the world Australia has always imposed extraordinarily high standards of quarantine. Until now. What has changed at Australia's quarantine service and its policy adviser Biosecurity Australia? What will it do to our food and environment? And why has there been so little debate? More...

* U.S. Farm Subsidies Hurting Africa's Development (Apr 15) - In a renewed campaign, African trade ministers have urged the United States to remove agricultural subsidies that are hurting African farmers. 'We need to maintain pressure on the U.S. to remove agriculture subsidies because this is an impediment to our development,' said Moody Awori, Kenya's Vice President, when opening a one-day meeting in the capital Nairobi. More...

* Development in defiance of the Washington consensus (Apr 13) - Joeseph Stiglitz argues that China has carried off the world's largest reduction in poverty by grasping that market economies cannot be left on autopilot. More...

* Invest Globally, Stagnate Locally (Apr 2) - The continuous increase of corporate profits in the US and Europe fails to translate into prosperity for domestic economies and wage earners. Transnational Corporations (TNCs) maintain low wages by constantly threatening to leave the country if wage negotiations do not meet their corporate interests. The article predicts a new rise of "economic nationalism" among rich countries as a reaction to the reluctance of TNCs to pay decent wages to their workers. More...


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