south-north development monitor - SUNS [Email Edition]

SUNS #4388
Friday, 5 March 1999


Trade: Wobbly legs of the rule-based WTO (Chakravarthi Raghavan, Geneva)

Environment: Reporting environmental impact of business (IPS, Washington)

Finance: Washington to surrender UNDP leadership? (IPS, Washington)

Health: International Conference on Children and Tobacco (IPS, Washington)

Environment: Greenland ice sheet shrinking (IPS, Washington)

ASEAN: Singapore-Indonesia ties sink to chilly depths (IPS, Singapore)

Excerpts from selected articles:

Trade: Wobbly legs of the rule-based WTO

Geneva, 4 March (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The United States in effect slapped 100% tariffs on some $500 million worth of imports from the European Union members in retaliation over the EU banana regime, but did so in what the Wall Street Journal (citing unnamed US trade officials) reported as "crafty move" that would enable Washington to argue it was not circumventing the WTO.

The United States announced that starting 3 March, it would withhold "final clearance" (by customs) on products imported from the EU of more than $500 million value figuring on the US hit list.

The products include pork (except hams, shoulders and bellies); pecorino cheese from sheep's milk; sweet biscuits, waffles and wafers; bath preparations other than bath salts; candles; propylene plates sheets, film and foil; plastic handbags; small articles made of plastic; uncoated felt paper and paperboard in rolls or sheets; folding cartons, boxes and cases of non-corrugated paper and paperboard; lithograph on paper or paperboard; cashmere sweaters and pullovers; bed linen; lead-acid storage batteries; electrothermic coffee or tea-makers.

Trade sources said the items seem to be those exported from countries (except Denmark and Netherlands who have opposed the EC banana regime) that have either promoted such EC preferences or those like Italy seen as not sufficiently pressuring other EU members to yield to the US.

In Brussels, the US announcement was greeted with outrage. The EC Vice-President and trade commissioner, Sir Leon Brittan denounced the action as "unacceptable and unlawful", and contrary to the US GATT obligations under Art. 1 (MFN) and Art. II (bound duties) and of 22.6 of the WTO's Dispute Settlement Understanding which prohibits any suspension of concessions during the course of the arbitration. The US action, Sir Leon said, is a form of sanctions, without any WTO authorization. The EC, he added, would immediately demand consultations and discuss the EC's own response with the EU members.........


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