south-north development monitor - SUNS [Email Edition]

SUNS #4384
Monday, 1 March 1999


Trade: The 'second stage' towards Seattle (Chakravarthi Raghavan, Geneva)

Environment: New delay for Biosafety Protocol (IPS, Cartagena)

Trade: Puerto Rico becoming the hemisphere's trade bridge (IPS, San Juan)

Environment: Mystery of disappearing frogs and toads (IPS, Washington)

Cuba: Telephone links with US suspended (IPS, Havana)

Excerpts from selected articles:

Trade: The 'second stage' towards Seattle

Geneva, 26 Feb (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The General Council of the World Trade Organization completed Thursday what was described as the first stage of the preparatory process for the 3rd Ministerial meeting, with a stock-taking of sorts and set a schedule of meetings between now and end of July to receive and assemble specific proposals for a Ministerial declaration and any further trade negotiations.

This was the sixth of the General Council special sessions launched last September as mandated by the 2nd Ministerial meeting at Geneva in May 1998, with various meetings looking at the various issues covered by the paragraph nine of that declaration under its four indents.

But a number of developing countries laid emphasis on both para 8 of the Geneva Declaration (about implementation of the agreements and an evaluation of them at the 3rd Ministerial), and para ten which requires any recommendation to the ministerial meeting needing a consensus decision.

In the run-up to Singapore, and the informal process chaired by the Director-General, issues that developing countries had opposed or had rejected remained in square brackets in the drafts that went to the Ministers. At Singapore itself, the non-transparent consultation processes operated in such a way that on the issues mooted by the Industrial world, but opposed by the developing countries, the phalanx of industrial nations and host country, stared down individual countries to put them all on a study programme, after the issues never considered in the preparatory process like information technology and some sectoral tariff cuts were negotiated and pushed through.

In the runup to the Geneva meeting, announced initially as a celebratory meeting for the 50th anniversary, the electronic commerce issue pushed by the US dominated the discussions and decisions, and a catch-all preparatory process was set up.

A more or less similar effort seems to be under way for Seattle............


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