News & Commentary:

March 2002 Archives


He's Got Mail
James Fallows (New York Review of Books) Mar 2002
The story of technology is largely the story of people who guess wrong about which problems will be easy to solve and which will be hard. For example, less than a decade before the Wright Brothers' flight, Lord Kelvin announced that "heavier than air flying machines are impossible." The Scientific American of 1909 concluded that "the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development," on evidence "that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced." Thomas Watson of IBM famously said in the 1940s that "there is a world market for maybe five computers."[1] In The Road Ahead, published in 1996, Bill Gates of Microsoft said that his-or anyone's- predictive writings about technology were bound to be judged harshly ten years after publication. "What I've said that turned out to be right will be considered obvious, and what was wrong will be humorous."

Cloning alone
Clive Cookson and Victoria Griffith (FT) Mar 1, 2002
Britain looks set to overtake the US in global biomediacl research.

Global: So Where’s the Dip?
Stephen Roach (MSDW) Mar 1, 2002
I get asked that question a lot these days -- by clients, colleagues, friends, and even my family. Last weekend, while watching the Olympics on television, my wife leaned over and asked me about the dip. I thought she was talking about a skater, but, no, it was the economy, stupid. And with the latest numbers all flashing recovery, the questions are coming at a fast and furious pace. The next dip is starting to seem more elusive than ever.

Swiss vote to join UN
FT Mar 4, 2002
Switzerland, one of the world's most prosperous countries, on Sunday turned its back on centuries of isolation after its population narrowly backed a referendum to join the United Nations.

Checking the Slumpometer
Economist Mar 4, 2002
By several measures, Japan's slump is now worse than America's was in the 1930s

Man of Steel?   Wall Street Journal Subscription Required
WSJ Mar 4, 2002
It would be sadly iron-ic if Bush abandoned his commitment to free trade.

'Overpopulation' Turns Out to Be Overhyped   Wall Street Journal Subscription Required
Ben J. Wattenberg (WSJ) Mar 4, 2002
A 21st-century challenge: dealing with population.

China GMO rules: Great Wall or Euro-style caution?
CheckBiotech Mar 4, 2002
China's rules on transgenic foods smack of protectionism to stonewall imports from the United States, but could also be an attempt to follow Europe's lead in soothing consumers' health concerns, U.S. agricultural analysts said. (ref.2639)

The world economy: Over the worst?
Economist Mar 4, 2002
As more evidence emerges that America's economic recovery may have started, hopes are rising that the worst may also be over for the world economy. But it may still be too soon to uncork the champagne

Steel protection: Bush's deadline
Economist Mar 4, 2002
President George Bush is facing demands from America's steel makers for tariffs of 40% on imports of foreign steel. He must decide what to do by March 6th: if he gives in to the steel companies he risks an international backlash.

EU agrees to be bound by Kyoto protocol
FT Mar 5, 2002
The 15 members of the European Union agreed to be legally bound by the terms of the Kyoto protocol on climate change, backing plans to ratify the agreement before the end of May.

Australian bank chief defends loss on currency
FT Mar 5, 2002
Ian Macfarlane, Australia's central bank governor, stepped into a political dispute over almost A$5bn in government foreign currency losses, defending the Treasury's failure to unwind the US dollar position behind the shortfall.

Global steel sector faces restructuring problems
FT Mar 5, 2002
As the steel industry awaits a decision by President George W. Bush over imports into the US, the intricacies of the world steel trade are casting a shadow over the business.

Poor farmers taste success
Roger Cowe (FT) Mar 5, 2002
Fairtrade is making headway but is still a tiny part of global trade.

WTO Group On Rules Discusses Negotiating Agenda, Fisheries Subsidies
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 6, Number 8 Mar 5, 2002
WTO Members at an informal meeting of the newly-established Negotiating Group on Rules on 28 February set a tentative schedule for their upcoming meetings in 2002. Disagreement, however, persisted over whether the issue of fisheries subsidies should be treated as a separate agenda item or be discussed under wider talks on subsidies.

CTD Session On Special And Differential Treatment Snags On Procedure
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 6, Number 8 Mar 5, 2002
At a 5 March Special Session of the WTO Committee on Trade and Development (CTD-SS) on special and differential treatment (S&D) for developing countries, developed and developing country Members sparred over the question of whether or not the CTD-SS was a negotiating forum. Despite the fact that the CTD-SS faces a short timeline before it must report to the General Council in July, delegates did not discuss the point-by-point substance of S&D, but spent most of the meeting addressing legal aspects of what, when and how the CTD-SS should tackle its mandate.

Preliminary Agreement On Environment Negotiation Structure
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 6, Number 8 Mar 5, 2002
At a 1 March informal meeting of the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE), WTO Members reached tentative agreement on how to organise and schedule not only negotiations mandated by para. 31 of the Doha Ministerial Declaration, but also regular sessions of the CTE.

Codex Committee Stalls Over Equivalence Standard
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 6, Number 8 Mar 5, 2002
Delegates at the Codex Committee On Food Import And Export Inspection And Certification Systems (meeting from 25 February to 1 March in Brisbane, Australia) failed to significantly move forward in their discussions on the Draft Guidelines on judging equivalence of sanitary measures in food inspection and certification systems. The Committee will now establish a Working Group to look into this issue. Efforts to draw up such a standard for the equivalence of technical regulations were abandoned altogether.

Services: Domestic Regulation Discussed At OECD
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 6, Number 8 Mar 5, 2002
Convening for a 4-5 March Services Experts Meeting jointly organised by the Trade Directorate of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank, OECD Members as well as some selected developing country WTO Members addressed the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) work programme on domestic regulation (GATS Article VI.4). Inter alia, participating countries convened to create intellectual input designed to feed into the current GATS negotiations at the WTO and to build bridges between trade negotiators, domestic regulators, national parliaments and civil society. While there was consensus among the participants that a great deal of attention needed to be paid to the developmental dimension of designing disciplines on domestic regulation, views on other subjects such as necessity, transparency and the choice of a generally horizontal approach remained diverse. This Experts Meeting was the third of its kind held as part of ongoing OECD work on trade in services.

Bush sets steep levies on foreign steelmakers   Recommended!
IHT Mar 6, 2002
President George W. Bush imposed steep tariffs Tuesday on imported steel in a move that was expected to outrage many of America's biggest trading partners.

Comment: Disappointing, but true.

Crying Wolfensohn   Wall Street Journal Subscription Required
WSJ Mar 6, 2002
Should we be saddling the Third World with more debt?

Bush Steps in a Steel Trap   Wall Street Journal Subscription Required   Recommended!
Greg Rushford (WSJ) Mar 6, 2002
U.S. mills take government subsidies, traffic in "dumped" materials, and even "dump" themselves.

Cracks in the Greenhouse   Wall Street Journal Subscription Required
WSJE Mar 6, 2002
The EU ratifies Kyoto, but the treaty looks as dead as ever.

Editorial comment: Still time to scrap steel protection   Recommended!
FT Mar 6, 2002
By deciding to imposepunitive tariffs and quotas on steel imports, President George W. Bush has chosen the worst option for dealing with the ailing US steel producers. They will damage the US economy by penalising steel users and could trigger a transatlantic trade war that could rapidly rebound on the US. Worse, they will only prolong the agony of the US steel industry, whose future prosperity lies in consolidation rather than artificial protection from pressures to restructure. .

The Core of Muslim Rage
Thomas L. Friedman (NYT) Mar 6, 2002
The latest death toll in the Indian violence between Hindus and Muslims is 544 people, many of them Muslims. Why is it that when Hindus kill hundreds of Muslims it elicits an emotionally muted headline in the Arab media, but when Israel kills a dozen Muslims, in a war in which Muslims are also killing Jews, it inflames the entire Muslim world?

America's steel tariffs: The backlash
Economist Mar 6, 2002
President George Bush has outraged Americaˇ¦s trading partners around the world with his decision to impose tariffs of 30% on most imports of steel. Governments in Asia, Latin America and Europe have all condemned the American move and the European Union is taking the case to the World Trade Organisation.

Global: China's Heavy Lifting
Stephen Roach (MSDW) Mar 6, 2002
The Chinese economy has passed yet another important test with flying colors. This is the second time in four years that China has had to face a major external shock. First, it was the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98. Now it is a rare synchronous global recession. With the downside of this recession now having come and gone, the Chinese economy has emerged largely unscathed. Once again, China has separated itself from the pack -- not just in Asia but from the rest of the global economy. That represents a huge milestone on the road to reform. China’s growth potential is now tough enough to stand on its own.

A Bad Week for Free Trade   Recommended!   Wall Street Journal Subscription Required
WSJE Mar 7, 2002
Political considerations produce protectionist decisions.

Supachai warns of steel trap for trade body
SCMP Mar 8, 2002
The World Trade Organisation's next chief Supachai Panitchpakdi has called for a global solution to the United States steel tariff dispute, warning it could derail plans a new round of trade talks.

Mixed reaction to Nigeria's decision on IMF
FT Mar 8, 2002
Nigeria's decision to end International Monetary Fund monitoring of its economic programme has been greeted with a combination of jubilation from politicians and dismay among economists.

Does Asia Need Its Own Multinationals?   Wall Street Journal Subscription Required
Matei Mihalca (AWSJ) Mar 8, 2002
Economic woes are tempting some companies to go global, but traditional management structures are standing in the way.

Testing His Metal
Paul Krugman (NYT) Mar 8, 2002
The Bush administration is all hat and no cattle when it comes to free trade, and probably free markets in general.

Tariffs May Temper a Glut of Steel
Mickey Kantor (NYT) Mar 8, 2002
As controversial as President Bush's steel tariff decision is, it is an effective way to jump-start serious talks and can pave the way for a major consolidation of the industry worldwide.

'Bubble' veterans live to trade another day
IHT Mar 11, 2002
Even at the height of the bull market, Lowell Koppel did not fit the mold of the hyperactive day trader who jumped in and out of technology stocks dozens of times a day.

US warns trade dispute could spread beyond steel
FT Mar 11, 2002
The US administration has warned that strains in international trade relations could spread from steel to other sectors unless the European Union countries and Japan reflate their economies. Grant Aldonas, under-secretary of commerce for international trade and one of the architects of the decision to impose steel tariffs of up to 30 per cent, said other sectors affected could include agriculture and semiconductors.

JP Morgan juggles unexpected risks
Gary Silverman (FT) Mar 11, 2002
The bank advertises that 'the right relationship is everything' - but some former friends have let it down.

Millions Pledged In Technical Assistance Present New Challenges To WTO
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 6, Number 9 Mar 12, 2002
A flood of money emanating from an 11 March pledging conference for technical assistance for developing countries at the WTO has presented the organisation with a strange problem: how to effectively deploy the funds? Overall, developed countries pledged close to $US 18 million towards the Doha Development Trust Fund, a fund set up by the WTO to finance technical assistance activities aimed at improving developing countries' participation in the new negotiations. This is twice the amount the Secretariat had requested in its Technical Assistance Plan for 2002.

Divisive Debate Over TRIPs And Public Health Continues In TRIPs Council
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 6, Number 9 Mar 12, 2002
Intellectual property rights (IPRs) and public health again divided Members at the Council for Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) during its first meeting after Doha on 5-7 March, leaving the US virtually isolated against the EU and developing countries. Members also debated the extension of geographical indications (GIs) to products other than wines and spirits, and reviews of TRIPs provisions. The meeting was followed by a Special Session of the Council on 8 March where Members agreed to a two-phase programme for negotiations on a multilateral system for the registration of GIs for wines and spirits.

Regional Integration Efforts Urged At African Development Forum
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 6, Number 9 Mar 12, 2002
The Third African Development Forum (ADF III) concluded on 8 March after a week of discussion on how to promote economic and political integration on the continent. Delegates came out of the meeting with a bold agenda for the continent's policy makers to follow if they are to realise their goal of African unity.

Fisheries Subsidies Remain within General Context of Subsidies Talks At WTO
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 6, Number 9 Mar 12, 2002
In the first formal meeting of the WTO Negotiation Group on Rules, on 11 March, Chair Timothy Groser of New Zealand announced that for "practical considerations" and without implying any political views whatsoever, he would be grouping topics together into three headings: subsidies, anti-dumping and regional trade agreements. He said that the issue of fisheries subsidies would be discussed under the topic "subsidies". An 'early harvest' on implementation issues was also emphasised by key developing countries.

Codex Task Force Adopts Standards For Biotech Food
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 6, Number 9 Mar 12, 2002
The Codex Intergovernmental Task Force on Foods Derived From Biotechnology at its third meeting in Yokohama, Japan, on 4-8 March adopted principles for risk analysis and guidelines for conducting safety assessments of foods derived from biotechnology.

DSB: US Steel-Tariff Plan Faces Fierce Criticism
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 6, Number 9 Mar 12, 2002
Following the Bush administration's decision last week to raise tariffs up to 30 percent over a range of steel products, a number of WTO Members have voiced serious concern over the US plan, arguing that it is a clear violation of WTO rules.

Missing James Tobin   Recommended!
Paul Krugman (NYT) Mar 12, 2002
James Tobin - Yale professor, Nobel laureate and adviser to John F. Kennedy - died yesterday. He was a great economist and a remarkably good man; his passing seems to me to symbolize the passing of an era, one in which economic debate was both nicer and a lot more honest than it is today.

Global: Casting Abroad for Higher Returns
Rebecca McCaughrin/Joe Quinlan (MSDW) Mar 12, 2002
US investors have been reluctant buyers of foreign securities relative to their foreign counterparts for most of the last decade. The Asian financial crisis and Russia’s debt debacle, juxtaposed against a turbo-charged US economy, kept US investors close to home over the last few years, during which period the gap between US outward and inward investment widened substantially.

A shadow over Europe's recovery
IHT Mar 13, 2002
Amid signs that the European economy is pulling out of its worst downturn in a decade, Christian Noyer, the departing vice president of the European Central Bank, has said that potential risks still cast doubt on the vigor of the recovery.

Economies: Buying Time
FEER Mar 14, 2002
Japan's latest emergency package doesn't tackle deflation, but it may avert a financial crisis.

World population growth: Slowing down?
Economist Mar 14, 2002
Demographers are rethinking their forecasts of population growth because of an unexpected fall in the fertility rates of many developing countries. As experts discuss changing trends at a United Nations conference in New York, some experts are beginning to speculate about the eventual decline of the global population.

Global: Beyond Steel-What's Really at Stake for the US and Europe
Joe Quinlan/Rebecca McCaughrin (MSDW) Mar 14, 2002
If it were only steel that bedevils US-European relations. Think of the US decision to impose temporary tariffs of up to 30% on US steel imports as one more destabilizing factor to a relationship already under a great deal of strain. Steel joins genetically modified food, offshore tax subsidies, beef, bananas, and Iraq as flash points threatening to undermine the US’s relationship with Europe. Investors should be mindful of the fact that as the rhetoric and ill-will rise, at stake is the cohesion of the transatlantic economy, accounting for roughly 40% of world output. In addition, the transatlantic economy is the single largest source of profits for most US and European multinationals and the primary source for cross-border capital flows.

Room for improvement
Economist Mar 14, 2002
European Union leaders gathered for a summit in Barcelona. Main topic: making reality of structural reforms promised in Lisbon two years ago to accelerate EU economies. But France was ready to resist anything more than halfway opening of its energy market, and several countries were uneasy at ideas for freeing labour markets.

European production data weigh on dollar
IHT Mar 14, 2002
The dollar fell Thursday against European currencies as reports of faster industrial production in France and Italy in January raised expectations for an economic recovery in Europe.

Bush promises US aid to combat global poverty
FT Mar 15, 2002
President George W. Bush on Thursday sought to demonstrate his commitment to the war on global poverty by pledging a big increase in the US overseas aid budget.

IMF warns of instability if recovery is not speedy
FT Mar 15, 2002
The International Monetary Fund warned that the global financial system would be vulnerable if the economic recovery turned out slower than markets expected.

Grow Up, Gazprom   Wall Street Journal Subscription Required
WSJE Mar 15, 2002
WTO membership is a step in the right direction.

Global: Musical Chairs in Asia
Stephen Roach (MSDW) Mar 15, 2002
The first day of our annual Asian investor conference stunned me. As we do in the US and Europe, we have assembled a stellar cast of leading regional fund managers for several days of intense give and take on macro issues. From an investment perspective, they are very much an Asian-centric group, although many also have global mandates. But all they really wanted to talk about was the United States.

EU economic summit: Facing up to failure
Economist Mar 16, 2002
As European Union heads of government gather in Barcelona for a special summit, their ambitious aim of making Europe the world’s most competitive region by 2010 looks doomed to fail. The best they can hope for is to break the deadlock on electricity deregulation-and French resistance will make even that difficult.

Better Late Than...
Thomas L. Friedman (NYT) Mar 17, 2002
The last time America dominated the world as overwhelmingly as it does today was in the wake of World War II. So why did that America not inspire the sort of global anger that today's America does? Partly it's because the rest of the world was flat on its back then. But more important, it's because America after World War II took responsibility for making the world both a more secure place to live and a better place to live. And it expended a lot of resources, as in the Marshall Plan, to do both.

Workers benefit from trade liberalization - Moore
WTO Mar 18, 2002
Director-General Mike Moore, in a speech to the ILO's Working Party on the Social Dimension of Globalization on 18 March 2002, underlined that workers as a group will be better off from trade liberalization, adding that the WTO is keeping up the momentum on the Doha Development Agenda.

Tokyo and Seoul explore free-trade pact
FT Mar 18, 2002
Japan and South Korea will take a significant step this week towards signing a bilateral free-trade agreement, an important concession for two Asian neighbours that have seen their relations sour as the result of disagreements over their wartime history.

Foreign aid: A fresh start?
Economist Mar 18, 2002
President George Bush tried to avert a row over aid with his pledge of $5 billion more help for poor countries before his arrival arrived at this week’s UN aid conference. But has the American government really changed its mind about the effectiveness of aid-and will it now practice what Mr Bush preaches?

Is U.S. Trade Representative Bob Zoellick a protectionist?
Timothy Noah (Slate) Mar 19, 2002
Chatterbox hereby retires his "death watch" feature, which attempted to identify Bush officials on the verge of losing their jobs. The Bush administration's personnel practices are simply too difficult to predict.

Trade and Aid in a Changed World   Recommended!
Kofi Annan (NYT) Mar 20, 2002
All governments accept that official aid is only one element in the development mix, but an essential one.

Biotech no pancea to end world hunger
CheckBiotech Mar 20, 2002
Biotechnology is no panacea to end world hunger as conflict, disease, trade barriers and ignorance prevent millions from feeding themselves, delegates at a conference said. (ref. 2751)

Can Free Trade Really Prevent War?
Richard M. Ebeling (Mises Daily) Mar 20, 2002
The Classical Liberals of the nineteenth century were certain that the end of the old Mercantilist system--with its government control of trade and commerce, its bounties (subsidies) and prohibitions on exports and imports--would open wide vistas for improving the material conditions of man through the internationalization of the system of division of labor. They also believed that the elimination of barriers to trade and the free intercourse among men would help to significantly reduce if not end the causes of war among nations.

The rich countries will have to do better   Recommended!
Kjell Magne Bondevik et al Mar 21, 2002
The UN Conference on Financing for Development is an opportunity for world leaders to commit resources to fulfill the development goals adopted at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000. Chief among these is reducing by half, by 2015, the proportion of people who live in extreme poverty. That is the yardstick by which the Monterrey summit conference will be measured.

Secretary of State Rove
WSJ Mar 21, 2002
Bush sells out his principles by backing steel tariffs.

Report supports sustainable food production
CheckBiotech Mar 21, 2002
“The bad news is that the way we grow food now cannot be sustained into the future. Industrial agriculture’s damaging impacts on the environment and public health are becoming more apparent all the time, and will only intensify if we continue down this path,” says lead author Leo Horrigan, senior research program coordinator at the Center for a Livable Future at the School.

Foreign Aid Helps the Helpers   Wall Street Journal Subscription Required
Claudia Rosett (WSJ) Mar 21, 2002
The IMF finds $250 million for new headquarters.

Euro quandary: It's no small change
IHT Mar 22, 2002
The tiny denomination 1- and 2-cent euro coins are annoying shoppers and disrupting business from Paris to Milan. As customers squint at the small coins and pay their bills down to the penny, patience on both sides of the cash register is running short.

Limiting the damage as Japan's bubble bursts
FT Mar 22, 2002
The past decade has seen Japan experience an economic miracle of an invisible and largely unacknowledged kind: it has avoided a 1930s-style depression.

Protectionism Imperils Free Trade With Latins
Brink Lindsey (WSJ) Mar 22, 2002
The current "trade promotion authority" bill will hinder tariff reductions on some products.

Global: The Lessons of Asia
Stephen Roach (MSDW) Mar 22, 2002
Asia remains a study in contrasts. Tempting as it is, this region should never be painted with a single brush. Especially now. There is great diversity of culture, history, and economic performance. Looking ahead, Asia’s economic prognosis is very much a reflection of that diversity. That key point has come through loud and clear as I come down the home stretch of a two-week mission to the Far East.

Currencies: Safeguarding Steel or Safeguarding the Dollar?
Stephen L. Jen (MSDW) Mar 22, 2002
On March 20, the US’ recently announced safeguard tariffs of up to 30% on imported steel products came into effect. We believe that the decision to invoke such a controversial measure that would clearly be divisive for the US’ allies in a geopolitically fragile environment has important implications for the value of the USD, even if it does not lead to explicit changes in the strong USD policy. The decision to impose these tariffs suggests to us that the US dollar is too strong. The strong USD policy -- the way the market believes it is defined -- has outlived its usefulness, in our view. We believe investors should take note of the definition of the strong-dollar policy by Secretary O’Neill, rather than naively dismissing an explicit abandonment of the strong-dollar policy.

Bush, in Monterrey, Speaks of Conditional Global Aid
NYT Mar 23, 2002
Poor countries must be prepared to carry out reforms if they expect to receive increased aid, President Bush warned on Friday.

US wakes from slumber in development field
FT Mar 25, 2002
According to international opinion, the US promise of an extra $5bn in aid should come with an agreement to learn from experienced donors.

Global: Reality Check in Beijing
Stephen Roach (MSDW) Mar 25, 2002
The mood is a bit more somber these days in China. The euphoria over the nearly 15-year struggle for WTO accession has understandably faded. In its place, a far tougher reality seems to be sinking in. The heavy lifting of Chinese reforms is now at hand.

Foreign aid: Getting it right
Economist Mar 25, 2002
The United Nations summit on financing for development appears to have shifted the international debate on aid for poor countries. But will the rich countries deliver on their newly-generous promises of help?

Water for Development
CheckBiotech Mar 25, 2002
Agriculture consumes about 70 per cent of the world's available water but experts say that where there are competing demands for water use, and groundwater sources have been depleted, small farmers are the first to lose their supply.

Finance matters. Financial liberalisation: too much too soon?
ID21 Mar 26, 2002
An efficient and stable financial system is important for economic growth and poverty reduction. The financial crises that have afflicted many countries in recent times have been a costly and painful reminder of the disastrous consequences for development of weak financial markets.

ITU: Internet gap widens between countries
Nua Mar 26, 2002
The digital divide between developed and developing countries is growing, according to a new report from ITU.

Nua Internet Surveys: Global Internet audience increases
Nua Mar 26, 2002
Nearly nine percent of the world's population now has access to the Internet, according to newly released figures from Nua Internet Surveys.

Getting Real About Foreign Aid   Wall Street Journal Subscription Required
George Melloan (WSJE) Mar 26, 2002
Investment will create more wealth than welfare.

Putin's bid to join WTO splits business community
FT Mar 27, 2002
Russian President Vladimir Putin's bid to take his country into the World Trade Organisation as early as next year has split the country's business community. The argument is hotting up as discussions as entry gathers pace.

Argentina's peso rallies but prices on the rise
FT Mar 27, 2002
Argentines swarmed banks to buy US dollars on Tuesday while many snapped up milk and meat in supermarkets amid fears of hyperinflation despite a rally by the peso after recent record lows.

Services: Little Visible Progress As Members Reflect On Requests and Wrangle on Assessment
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 6, Number 11 Mar 26, 2002
WTO Members convened on 21 March for a regular meeting of the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE), and on 22 March for the CTE's first special (negotiating) session. In both meetings, delegates addressed items under the environment heading on the Doha Ministerial Declaration. Notably, the EC circulated a controversial paper outlining some of its preliminary thoughts on the relationship between WTO rules and multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), which is classified under paragraph 31 (i) of the Doha Declaration.

CTE Tackles Hefty Doha Environment Mandate
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 6, Number 11 Mar 26, 2002
Finalising this month's services cluster, Members at a 19-22 March special session of the Council for Trade in Services (CTS) met to discuss, inter alia, the assessment of trade in services and the treatment of autonomous liberalisation, as well as numerous sectoral proposals submitted for market access negotiations under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) Article XIX. Whereas issues such as establishing modalities for granting "credits" for autonomous liberalisation undertaken by Members were addressed at length during the four-day special session, almost no substantial sectoral discussions took place. Concern was expressed among some developing country Members that as-yet unresolved sectoral and subsidiary body issues would be dealt with bilaterally.

Mixed Reaction On Trade In Financing For Development Outcome
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 6, Number 11 Mar 26, 2002
At the conclusion of the UN's International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, 18-22 March, heads of state and government adopted the final document, called 'the Monterrey Consensus', in an effort to "eradicate poverty, achieve sustained economic growth and promote sustainable development". The text highlights, inter alia, the importance of trade "as an engine for development" and calls for greater coherence among multilateral institutions. Civil society groups strongly criticised the document, saying that it fell far short of what was needed to combat poverty.

SPS Committee Resolves Implementation Issue, Discusses Biotech
BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest - Vol. 6, Number 11 Mar 26, 2002
The WTO Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) at its meeting on 19-21 March adopted revised recommendations for notification procedures, thereby resolving one of the outstanding implementation issues submitted by Brazil at the last SPS Committee meeting in October 2001. In addition, several Members raised concerns regarding China's and the EU's biotechnology rules with discussions largely mirroring those in the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) last week.

EU adopts temporary measures to guard against floods of steel imports resulting from US protectionism
EU DGT Mar 27, 2002
The European Commission adopted safeguard measures on steel. Following the US action to severely restrict steel imports on 20 March, the EU measures are designed to prevent floods of steel imports being diverted into the EU. The measures have been drawn up with scrupulous attention to WTO rules. The safeguard establishes a generous level of imports - within which the measures will not apply - based on the highest recent level of imports (2001). Beyond these levels, tariffs will apply varying from 14.9% to a maximum 26%. These temporary measures, due to enter into force in the coming days, will last for a maximum of 6 months. During this time, a thorough investigation of the effects of the US measures will be carried out. Developing countries will be effectively excluded from the measures, in line with WTO rules. Announcing the decision, EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy said: 'Unfounded, unnecessary and unfair US action has forced us to take temporary steps to look after EU industry, and EU workers. But we have done this without indulging in protectionism. Unlike the US, we will keep our market open to imports from the rest of the world. These limited and carefully crafted measures have one simple goal: to prevent a flood of diverted steel coming into the EU market.'

The Arab summit: The absentee vote
Economist Mar 27, 2002
The Arab summit has opened in Beirut with several of the most important intended participants absent notably Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader. This has further dimmed prospects of a ceasefire between Israelis and Palestinians, and of progress towards a lasting peace.

Argentina's sagging currency and government   Economist Subscription Required
Economist Mar 28, 2002
Argentina's central bank imposed controls on foreign-exchange dealing after the peso plunged again. The IMF said it would start formal talks on a loan agreement with President Eduardo Duhalde's increasingly shaky government next month.

George Bush on trade and aid   Economist Subscription Required
Economist Mar 28, 2002
The European Union struck back against America's decision to impose tariffs on steel imports with tariffs of its own of up to 26% on some steel products. It also drew up a list of American goods on which it would impose sanctions worth $2 billion if America refuses to compensate the EU for its steel measures. America, like Europe before it, threatened action through the World Trade Organisation.

A quarrel with Canada about wood   Economist Subscription Required
Economist Mar 28, 2002
The United States said that it would nail a tariff of around 29% on Canadian softwood, claiming its neighbour was "dumping" subsidised timber in the American market.

China Invests in Asia   Recommended!
FEER Mar 28, 2002
China has taken a strategic decision to invest abroad to secure new supplies of natural resources and show it can do much more than just soak up foreign investment itself. For Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia - the most important in the region for Beijing - this policy of "going outside" by the Chinese couldn't have come at a better time, though some old problems still need to be overcome. Plus: Beijing moves to ease Southeast Asia's fears.

Japan's sweet spring
David Pilling (FT) Mar 28, 2002
Tentative signs of economic recovery will prove short-lived if policymakers continue to disagree over how best to bring about long-term growth.

The Promise of Food Security
CheckBiotech Mar 28, 2002
Genetically modified food has got a bad rap for endangering the environment and human health, but without so much as a shred of scientific evidence as proof. In fact, for much of Asia, transgenics hold the key to increasing productivity and fighting hunger.(ref. 2810)

The Economic Case for EU Enlargement   Wall Street Journal Subscription Required
Charles Robertson (WSJE) Mar 28, 2002
Far from taking on a great burden, the EU stands to pay a pittance for an economic miracle.

The True Arab Leaders
Nichloas D. Kristof (NYT) Mar 29, 2002
At a time when Arab countries face far-reaching choices about economics, democracy, Israel, religion the region needs most what it lacks most: great leaders.

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