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Global Trade Watch E-Newsletter #48 - April 2007

Contents:

1) News from Global Trade Watch
2) Good News for (a) Change
3) Upcoming Events
4) Take Action!
5) Global Trade News

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1) NEWS FROM GLOBAL TRADE WATCH

* Editorial: APEC Coming to Sydney in September to Discuss Free Trade

This September the leaders of 21 Asia-Pacific nations – including US President George Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao – will be coming to Sydney for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.  But while the media has been busy reporting on just how many traffic problems the forum will cause, it has almost completely ignored the issues that will be on the table at the talks.

High on the agenda, along with terrorism & climate change, will be a discussion of a proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP).  It will be no surprise to anyone that the proposal for the FTAAP came from a group of big corporations which make up the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).  At the 2006 APEC leaders meeting in Vietnam, APEC economic ministers released a statement noting that that "We share the APEC Business Advisory Council's (ABAC) views that...it would...be timely for APEC to seriously consider more effective avenues towards trade and investment liberalization in the Asia-Pacific region. Therefore...we instructed Officials to undertake further studies on ways and means to promote regional economic integration, including a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific as a long-term prospect."

As they discuss the creation of yet another “free trade” area, the ministers meeting in Sydney would do well to dwell on the results of a study released in April by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU).  The study analysed the impacts of the three FTAs which Australia has so far signed – with Singapore, Thailand and the USA.  It found that under all three agreements, Australia’s imports increased faster than exports, and that our bilateral merchandise trade deficit has widened to more than $11 billion annually.  As a result of the three deals, more that 26,000 Australian jobs have been lost.

Moving on to the proposed China-Australia FTA, the AMWU study found that an agreement with China would cost Australia 170,000 more manufacturing jobs, as companies left Australia for countries with cheaper labour forces.  The study found that “entire sectors of manufacturing, including textiles and apparel, would be virtually wiped out”.  Even factoring in jobs creased in agriculture and mining, “the overall net employment impact in Australia would be a job loss of 158,500 positions.”

Download the AMWU report here.

* Win One of 10 Free copies of “Pandemonium: How Globalisation & Trade are Putting the World at Risk”

If you’d like to support Global Trade Watch’s work, now’s the best time!  Thanks to UQ Press, GTW has 10 copies of Pandemonium – an exciting new book by Andrew Nikiforuk – to give away to our members.

Pandemonium looks at some of the frightening - but often unpublicized - consequences of globalization.  Whether it’s pandemics like avian flu, the potential loss of most of the world’s banana crops to disease, or the devastation of a foot-and-mouth epidemic, the deadly pace of globalization and biological traffic in all living things invites disaster. Pandemonium is a vital guide to the hidden consequences of globalization.

Pandemonium is available now in bookstores for $26.95. You can also buy it direct from the University of Queensland Press - phone (07) 3346 9434, fax (07) 3365 7579 or visit www.uqp.uq.edu.au.

But if you’d like a FREE copy of the Pandemonium, send us a GTW membership application before May 17 to be in the running to win one of the 10 free copies. You can download a membership application here.

* New GTW Office

Global Trade Watch has moved into a new office at Level 1, 100 Gertrude st, Fitzroy. This move significantly increases our capacity, amongst other things, to host volunteers, so please let us know if you'd like to get involved.

* Volunteer Fundraiser Wanted (Melbourne)

Global Trade Watch is looking for a volunteer to help us with fundraising to support our campaigns for fair trading systems.  Based in Melbourne, the position would require 1-2 days per week (but we’re very flexible with times).  So if you have some experience with fundraising or general communications, and you’d like some exciting, fun work at a growing social justice-focused NGO, please email your CV to us at [email protected]

* Wanted: Inspiring photos which capture the stories of people and places around the world

A new edition of our popular People & Planet: A Social Justice & Environment Diary is in the works for 2008, and we're looking for amateur or professional photographers to contribute photos.

People & Planet is published annually by Global Trade Watch in collaboration between a number of social justice and environment groups around Australia, and helps to raise funds for and advertise the work of these groups. The diary will feature 54 photos of people and places around the world, so if you think your photos would suit, please consider submitting them. Unfortunately we can't pay you for your photos, but you will be acknowledged, and you'll get a free copy of the diary too!

* WHAT:  We're looking for beautiful photos which tell a story about a place or a person/people somewhere in the world (including Australia).  We'd particularly love photos that are accompanied by a short vignette about the subjects, especially if they touch on issues of social or environmental justice.

* HOW:  Please send us a maximum of 20 photos, preferably in digital form on a CD or DVD (highest resolution is best). Please include descriptions of or stories about your photos (1-5 sentences each).  Post to: People & Planet Diary, PO Box 6014, Nth Collingwood, VIC 3066.

* WHEN: Please send photos to us by Friday June 29.

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2) GOOD NEWS FOR (A) CHANGE

* Campaign Success: Starbucks and Ethiopia Strike a Coffee Deal

Hopefully you’re one of the more than 93,000 people around the world who have in recent months written to Starbucks demanding they give a fair go to struggling Ethiopian coffee farmers by giving them the rights over the names of their own coffee (the campaign has featured in the “Take Action” section of our previous e-newsletters).

The good news this week is that your voice has been heard: Starbucks has met with the Ethiopian government and agreed to sign a licensing, distribution and marketing agreement recognizing specialty Ethiopian coffees like Harar, Sidamo and Yirgacheffe.

While the final text of the agreement hasn’t yet been released, it’s clearly a big win for Ethiopian coffee farmers struggling to make a living in the unregulated international coffee market.  So if you made the effort and sent Starbucks a letter, we’re sure the farmers thank you!

More about the agreement here & here.

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3) UPCOMING EVENTS

NATIONAL

* 28 April-13 May - Fair Trade Fortnight – A fortnight long celebration of fair trading systems! By changing to fair trade today, you can change the lives of farmers and producers across the developing world - this is the idea behind Fair Trade Fortnight 2007. We need to get more people to buy fairly traded products now to demonstrate our support for producers and express our dissatisfaction with the unfair trade rules that currently keep millions of people in poverty. A simple action like buying a fair trade product can trigger a positive change in peoples’ lives in developing countries as well as sending a message to our own government that we want change in global trade rules. Find out about events in your state here.

VICTORIA

* Mon 28 May, 6pm - Public Lecture: The Australia-US Free Trade Agreement and the Demise of Reference Pricing: Beginning of the End for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme? - A public lecture by Dr. Thomas Faunce (BA/LLB(hons) B.Med PhD) Australian National University. This is the first of a series of public lectures on the impact of trade on health and human rights co-sponsored by The Post-Graduate Law Students Association (PLSA) and the Nossal Institute for Global Health (Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences) of the University of Melbourne. WHERE:  Room G08, The Melbourne University Law School, 185 Pelham st Carlton.  Followed by supper; All welcome.  RSVP: Madeline Miller by 21 May: [email protected]

 

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4) TAKE ACTION!

* People Before Patents: Millions of Lives at stake

Pharmaceutical company Novartis is taking the Indian government to court. If the company wins, millions of people across the globe could have their sources of affordable medicines dry up. Novartis was one of the 39 companies that took the South African government to court five years ago, in an effort to overturn the country's medicines act that was designed to bring drug prices down.

Now Novartis is up to it again and is targeting India. India produces affordable medicines that are vital to many people living in developing countries. Over half the medicines currently used for AIDS treatment in developing countries come from India. If Novartis is successful in its challenge against the Indian government and its patent law, more medicines are likely to be patented in India, making it very difficult for generic producers to make affordable versions of them. This could affect millions of people around the world who depend on medicines produced in India.

Tell Novartis it has no business standing in the way of people's right to access the medicines they need. Sign on and urge Novartis to DROP THE CASE against the Indian government here.

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5) GLOBAL TRADE NEWS

* BILATERAL AND REGIONAL FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS NEWS *

* Aussie anger over trade agreement (May 2) - Australian beef producers have hit out at the government for allowing a loss of trade because of a free-trade agreement between the United States and Australia. Now they have called for a review of the US-Australia FTA. More...

* How China will kill our industries (Apr 27) - A free-trade pact with China would undercut Australian factories, writes Kenneth Davidson. More...

* Unions back ALP to negotiate China FTA (Apr 27) - Unions have given Labor the go ahead to negotiate a free trade deal with China after the ALP agreed to address fears about potential job losses in Australia. More...

* Unfair trade (Apr 26) - UK ministers, who claim to promote sustainable development, are part of a push to force developing countries to sign away their environment. More...

* China FTA would cost 170,000 jobs: AMWU (Apr 26) - A free trade agreement between Australia and China would cost about 170,000 local jobs, the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU) warns. More...

* WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION NEWS *

* No Fast Track to Global Poverty Reduction (Apr 26) - The March 31 deadline for the Bush Administration to submit a World Trade Organization agreement to Congress under its current “fast track” trade promotion authority has passed, with talks still stalled over agricultural issues. Congress should think twice before extending fast track authority to achieve a new WTO agreement. The Doha agreement currently being negotiated fails to make good on the commitment to, as the Doha Declaration states, place developing countries’ “needs and interests at the heart of the Work Programme adopted in this declaration.” Full Report...

* WORLD BANK / IMF NEWS *

* World Bank Panel Finds Wolfowitz at Fault; Aide Resigns (May 7) — A committee of World Bank directors has formally notified Paul D. Wolfowitz that they found him to be guilty of a conflict of interest in arranging for a pay raise and promotion for Shaha Ali Riza, his companion, in 2005. The findings stepped up the pressure on Mr. Wolfowitz to resign. More...

* Adios, World Bank! (May 4) - As the controversy around Iraq War architect Paul Wolfowitz’s uncertain future as president of the World Bank intensifies, the financial institution is not only losing supporters. It’s also losing victims. In Latin America, countries are paying off their World Bank loans early, cutting off ties with the Bank, and creating their own financing instruments to replace the world’s oldest multilateral lending agency. More...

* US and EU “Need to Cede Power” in World Bank and IMF (Apr 21) - The US & EU need to adapt to global changing economic reality and for their own good give up their leadership monopolies at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, according to a report from the Atlantic Council of the United States. More... or Full Report...

* If Britain wants to help Africa's poor, it must stop acting like an emperor (17 Apr) - The IMF is a plutocracy whose loan conditions continue to condemn developing countries to a vicious cycle of misery, writes George Monbiot. More...

* Spring meetings descend into chaos Updates on all the action (Apr 16) - The credibility of the World Bank is in tatters, as accusations of nepotism, religious intolerance and political bullying have engulfed the institution. Attention to the issues of the formal agenda of the spring meetings of the World Bank and IMF has been overshadowed by calls for president Wolfowitz to resign after conceding that he violated Bank protocols by personally intervening in the pay rise and promotion of his girlfriend. More...


* OTHER TRADE & GLOBAL JUSTICE NEWS *

* Why Investment Matters: Reclaim Investment for the Public Good (May 07) - In his new book economist and activist Kavaljit Singh explains the central role of transnational corporations and other key players in determining investment patterns. He debunks some of the myths surrounding investment flows and examines the new power of transnational corporations from the South, particularly China and India. Full Report...

* Fairtrade sales skyrocket in Australia (Apr 28) - A rise in ethical shopping has seen sales of Fairtrade products in Australia skyrocket, helping to improve the lives of farmers in poorer countries. More...

* Challenging Corporate Investor Rule (Apr 07) - This report examines how global corporations have increased their power through rules and institutions designed to provide unprecedented and sweeping protections to private foreign investors. These increasingly controversial protections are promoted by the World Bank and other international financial institutions, codified by bilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements, and enforced through international arbitration tribunals. Full Report...


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