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Global Trade Watch E-Newsletter #52 - February 2008

 

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: Global Trade Takes a Greater Toll on the Environment

Even as the massive dredging ship the Queen of the Netherlands continues its work turning Melbourne's Port Philip Bay into a toxic dump in the name of increasing international trade, more news has turned up showing that the environmental impacts of this trade are much worse than previously thought.

The UK's Guardian reported in February that a leaked UN report put the level of greenhouse emissions from international shipping at three times the level previous estimated. The report calculates that "annual emissions from the world's merchant fleet have already reached 1.12bn tonnes of CO2, or nearly 4.5% of all global emissions of the main greenhouse gas . . . . By comparison, the aviation industry, which has been under heavy pressure to clean up, is responsible for about 650m tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, just over half that from shipping."

The shipping industry - which transports about 90% of world trade - is deliberately excluded from the Kyoto Protocol, and from other emissions trading systems like the European system. Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, said: "This is a clear failure of the system. The shipping industry has so far escaped publicity. It has been left out of the climate change discussion. I hope [shipping emissions] will be included in the next UN agreement. It would be a cop-out if it was not. It tells me that we have been ineffective at tackling climate change so far."

Just one week after this leak, the UN Environment Program released a wide-ranging report on the world's oceans - "In Dead Water" - which found that the world's international shipping routes were largely responsible for the spread of sea-borne invasive species. "The number and severity of outbreaks and infestations of invasive species is growing, and invasions of marine habitats are now occurring at an alarming rate. Exotic and invasive species have been identified by scientists and policymakers as a major threat to marine ecosystems, with dramatic effects on biodiversity, biological productivity, habitat structure and fisheries marine predators . . . the worldwide movement of ships seems to be the largest single introduction vector," UNEP reported.

In Dead Water also found that subsidies for fishing fleets in the rich world were a significant reason for "up to 80 per cent of the world's primary fish catch species [being] exploited beyond or close to their harvesting capacity. . . . The world's fishing capacity is 2.5 times bigger that that needed to sustainably harvest fisheries.".

This evidence should make Australian policy-makers and politicians pause in their continuous glorification of the benefits of globalisation and ever-increasing volumes of international trade.

There are two future scenarios here which should be of concern to all of us. Either the international community continues to ignore the above evidence and business-as-usual continues. Our air, our climate and our oceans continue to be polluted and destroyed, millions of species will disappear and the billions of people who rely on our oceans for food and employment will be pushed to the very edge of survival.

Or alternatively, the international community wakes up and begins to take action, putting in place measures to discourage international shipping, making it like other carbon-intensive and environmentally destructive activities: much more expensive, and much more rarely used.

For a country as reliant on international trade as Australia, either scenario is something to be very concerned about.

More info on shipping or More info on the UNEP Report

 

* "Understanding Globalisation": A Short Course, March 17 - May 19, MELBOURNE - Enrollments Open Now!

Global Trade Watch would like to announce an exciting new short course for people interested to learn more about globalisation, global economics and their impacts on people and the environment.

Understanding Globalisation is a 10-week course which examines the agreements, institutions and philosophies of the global economic system in an approachable, easy-to-follow way. Taking an Australian and global perspective, Understanding Globalisation brings together Australian and international experts in politics, economics, law and development to support participants in exploring the complexities of globalisation.

Through lectures, workshops and other activities, the course examines the relationships between the global economy and broader social and environmental issues, and equips participants to track future developments in globalisation and the global economic system.

The course will run in Carlton on Monday evenings from March 17 to May 19 2008. Find out more: download an information booklet and application form here.

Registration is open now, but places are limited, so please register soon. Registration costs are from $235 upwards - some free scholarships are also available if you cannot afford the fees - email us for more information. Register online now or email any enquiries to [email protected] Registration closes Thursday March 13th.

 

* Squeezed: The Cost of Free Trade in the Asia-Pacific - Melbourne Screening, & DVDs still available for just $10

Have you seen GTW's popular and powerful 2007 film, Squeezed: The Cost of Free Trade in the Asia Pacific yet? Filmed in Thailand and The Philippines in July 2007, Squeezed tells the story of how free trade agreements and globalisation are changing the lives of millions of people living in the Asia-Pacific region. If you haven't seen it yet, come along on Wednesday 5 March, at 6.30pm for Feast on Film, at Australian Centre for Moving Image ACMI, Federation Square, Flinders Street, Melbourne. More info...

Global Trade Watch also still has DVD copies of Squeezed for sale for just $10. Buy yourself a copy today, or give it as a gift.

 

* Are you a graphic designer or desktop publisher? We want your help!

Global Trade Watch is looking for a graphic designer to volunteer some time in March/April to help lay-out our new publication "Free Trade or Fair Trade: An Australian Guide". If you think you could help, drop us an email at [email protected]

 

* POSITION VACANT: Fiji-based Trade Research Officer for Pacific Network on Globalisation

The Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) are looking to take on someone interested in trade and economic justice in the Pacific, for an exciting 12-month position based in Fiji. A successful applicant would take up the position in country in July, 2008. The ‘Trade Research Officer’ position would see the right person living in beautiful Fiji (with the strong possibility of regional Pacific travel), conducting research on trade and justice issues, and coordinating PANG’s Pacific Trade Education Program (PTEP). Please note that PANG is ideally looking for someone with a development studies, or trade background. Individuals with a background in activism and advocacy work around globalisation, trade and economic justice would be desired. For information on the position, and how to apply, please go to here. Applications need to be submitted before March 7. For more information on PANG see here.

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2) GOOD NEWS FOR (A) CHANGE

* Africa takes a stand against Europe’s unequal economic partnership agreements (EPA's)

Food First ( www.foodfirst.org ) reports: "Times may be changing in Africa. Europe is no longer free to impose unfair trade agreements to the detriment of African farmers. At the second EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon in December African nations united against the EU’s push for trade liberalization and bilateral economic agreements. The EU’s 27 countries were asking African, Caribbean, and Pacific countries to permit EU goods and services to enter their domestic markets duty-free with a December 31, 2007 deadline for the new trade agreements.

Instead, African governments resoundingly voted no, forcing the European Commission into negotiations that are likely to resume in 2008. President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal emphatically refused to sign saying “We are not talking any more about EPA’s. We have rejected them.” President Thamo Mbeki of South Africa and Namibia supported Wade in deciding not to sign. This is a turning point for Africa, with African nations rejecting European domination and colonialist policies. The mobilized strength of social movements and trade union organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa also contributed to the collapse of the Summit.

Breaking with the European Commission, French President Nicolas Sarkozy stood behind the African countries that opposed unfair agreements. All in all, only 15 of the 76 poor countries involved in the discussions have signed EPA’s with Europe. Most African leaders fear that the EPA’s will flood their markets with cheap European goods, depriving them of duty revenue, while destroying local businesses and agriculture. Many also fear the EU’s strategy of single country deals that parallel the US’ inequitable trade agreements with Latin American nations."

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3) UPCOMING EVENTS

MELBOURNE

* Wed 5 March, 6.30pm - Squeezed: The Cost of Free Trade in the Asia-Pacific - Come along to a screening of GTW's recent film which tells the story of how free trade agreements and globalisation are changing the lives of millions of people living in the Asia-Pacific region. WHERE: Feast on Film, at Australian Centre for Moving Image ACMI, Federation Square, Flinders Street, Melbourne. More info...

* March 17 - May 19 - Understanding Globalisation: A Short Course on International Trade, People & Global Justice - Presented by Global Trade Watch, Understanding Globalisation is a 10-week course which examines the agreements, institutions and philosophies of the global economic system in an approachable, easy-to-follow way. Taking an Australian and global perspective, Understanding Globalisation brings together 19 Australian and international experts in politics, economics, law and development to support participants in exploring the complexities of globalisation. Registration costs are from $195 upwards, with an early-bird discount if you register before February 8.  Some free scholarships are also available if you cannot afford the fees - contact us for more information. Download an information booklet and application form here. Register online now or email any enquiries to [email protected]. Registration closes Friday March 7th.

* Mon 7th April, 9am - Symposium The Future of the Multilateral Trade System - This symposium will reflect on the key challenges facing the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and discuss the findings and recommendations of the Warwick Commission report on the Future of the Multilateral Trade System, which can be downloaded from here . WHERE: Melbourne Business School, 200 Leicester Street, Carlton. More info...

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4) TAKE ACTION!

* Don't let Bechtel off the hook in Ecuador!

Bechtel's at it again. The same corporation that spurred the infamous "Water Wars" in Bolivia in 2000 thinks that it can get away with the same irresponsible tactics, this time in the neighboring country of Ecuador. Bechtel, a U.S. corporation based in San Francisco, has cut off water services from poor people, dumped raw sewage into rivers, and provided residents with contaminated water, leading to an outbreak of Hepatitis A in 2005. Now, realizing that the privatization scheme has failed, Bechtel is trying to sell-out to another private corporation, flee the country with the profits and leave its debts and contractual promises behind.

But Ecuadorians are saying, "Enough!" They will not permit Bechtel to flee without taking responsibility for this disaster. And you can help. The Ecuadorian regulatory agency recently fined Bechtel's water company $1.5 million for violating its contract. And more than 10,000 people have signed a petition demanding the cancellation of their debt to the water company.

Can you add your voice by sending a letter to Bechtel's CEO, Riley Bechtel? He needs to know that the world supports Ecuadorians defending their right to clean, affordable water.

When Bechtel tripled water rates for poor Bolivians and criminalized the catching of rainwater, the world responded. Thousands of people from dozens of countries sent letters to the corporation and rallied outside its San Francisco headquarters. In 2000, Bechtel left Bolivia under pressure.

Now history seems to be repeating itself in Ecuador. Tell CEO Riley Bechtel not to make the same mistake twice.

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5) GLOBAL TRADE NEWS

* BILATERAL & REGIONAL FREE TRADE AGREEMENT NEWS *

* Democrats talk tough on trade (28 Feb) - The future of the North American Free Trade Agreement and others like it is in doubt if the US elects a Democratic president, after both candidates said last night they would opt out of the trade pact unless they could renegotiate labour and environmental protections. The move would have significant implications for Australia, which has an agreement with the US modelled on the NAFTA. More...

* TRIPS, bilateralism and patents: how they are failing both the developed and the developing world and what to do about it (11 Feb) - Luigi Palombi of ANU discusses TRIPS, post-TRIPS bilateralism and patents in the context of biological resources and traditional knowledge and seeks to provide a solution to the present intellectual property deadlock between the developed and developing worlds. Full Article...

* Australia-China FTA talks slow (Feb 15) - Australian officials have expressed frustration with negotiations for a free trade deal with China, admitting progress is slow. More...

* Don't pursue ’free trade’ policies: PANG (Jan 20) -The Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) says Pacific governments should not pursue foreign imposed ‘free trade’ policies that will lead to business closures and more job losses. This follows news that Flour Mills of Fiji (FMF) has closed down two milling factories and put on hold $30 million worth of projects that would have created 120 new jobs. The reduction of import duties on competing products (split peas and rice) led to the closure of the mills. More...

* El Salvador: Benefits of Free Trade Deal Still Remote (Jan 31) - The Salvadoran government had proclaimed that from the moment of its entry into force, the free trade agreement with the United States would boost the local economy, creating thousands of jobs, so that even street vendors would be exporting their typical snacks. But nearly two years later, the economic paradise has yet to arrive. More...

* WORLD TRADE ORGANISATION NEWS*

* Proposed Tariff Cuts Will ‘Destroy’ Industrial Development (29 Feb) - The Doha Round negotiations on industrial products have once again come under fire at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), with developing countries such as South Africa saying that the proposed tariffs cuts will spell the end of their industrial development. More...

* Make or Break for WTO Doha Round (29 Feb) - The World Trade Organisation’s beleaguered Doha Round could either be wrapped up in the next two to three months or be stalled for an indefinite period of time. More...

* "Divide and Rule" Manoeuvre Planned for WTO Doha Round? (24 Jan) - Process issues have once again risen to the fore in the World Trade Organisation as members brace themselves for the release of a new set of negotiating texts for agricultural and industrial tariff liberalisation at the end of January or early February. More...

* WORLD BANK & INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND NEWS *

* Confronting the Contradictions: The IMF, wage bill caps and the case for teachers (2007) - A new report by ActionAid builds on previous research and new in-depth country case studies from Malawi, Mozambique and Sierra Leone was released in April 2007. It shows that a major factor behind the chronic and severe shortage of teachers is that International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies have required many poor countries to freeze or curtail teacher recruitment. Full Report...

* OTHER TRADE & GLOBAL JUSTICE NEWS *

* Tilt the playing field of the world economy (6 Feb) - Just as children need to be nurtured before they can compete in high-productivity jobs, industries in developing countries should be sheltered from superior foreign producers before they “grow up”. They need to be given protection, subsidies, and other assistance while they master advanced technologies and build effective organisations. More...

* Rudd weighs tariff freeze for remaining makers (Feb 6) - The Rudd Government has left open the possibility of a tariff freeze to protect Australia's remaining car makers from intense global competition, after the decision by Mitsubishi to shut down its loss-making operations in South Australia. More...

* Boom or Bust: How commodity price volatility impedes poverty reduction, and what to do about it (Jan 08) - Commodity price volatility is a big problem for commodity-dependent countries and producers. With 95 developing countries deriving at least half their exports earnings from commodities, the rollercoaster of commodity prices, which can rise or fall by 50 per cent in a year, makes sound fiscal planning extremely difficult for both countries and producers. More...

* Power, Passion, and Neoliberalism (12 Nov) - Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism is very impressive indeed, writes Walden Bello. More...

* Globalization: What Is To Be Done? (4 Oct) - The race for the US presidency has crystallized the debate about what to do about "globalization," a short-hand way of describing the increasing tendency of firms to locate production abroad, often for the purpose of exporting goods back to the US rather than producing for the local market. More...

* Ten Years After: Revisiting the Asian Financial Crisis (Oct 07)- The volume seeks to revisit critical debates on the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis by reexamining its symptoms and causes, as well as lessons from its aftermath. The publication also addresses fundamental issues such as financial liberalization and impacts on regional economic change. Copies can be obtained, free of charge, by emailing the publisher at [email protected] The book is available for download here.


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