south-north development monitor - SUNS [Email Edition]

SUNS #4391
Wednesday, 10 March 1999


Trade: US and EC asked to end 'banana dispute' (Chakravarthi Raghavan)

Development: Bleak world outlook needs bold measures in North (Chakravarthi Raghavan)

Commodities: Oil price fall triggers overconsumption (IPS, New York)

Finance: Crisis-hit Asian nations train ire at rating agencies (IPS, Kuala Lumpur)

Environment: Argentina in row over hake fishing (IPS, Buenos Aires)

Environment: Coral Reefs in hot water (IPS, Washington)

Excerpts from selected articles:

Trade: US and EC asked to end 'banana dispute'

Geneva, 8 Mar (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- Members of the World Trade Organization Monday sent a strong message to the United States and the European Union to settle quickly their "banana dispute", but the majority did so in a manner that might encourage the US in its unilateralist tactics, and do damage to the multilateral system.

The General Council met in an emergency session convened at the request of the European Union over the US announced trade measures against some $520 million worth of imports from the EU over the banana dispute.

Like all other meetings, the General Council meeting too was in private, and the WTO official briefings left much to be desired. While the statements of the US and EC, and of the WTO director-general were made available, the press briefing did not give detailed briefings on what other delegations had said nor were copies of statements of others easily available to the media.

Last week, the US had announced the punitive duties, which would be retroactive to 3 March, if any when the arbitrators approved such penalties against the EU over the US complaint that the EU was favouring banana imports from the Caribbean nations, while discriminating against imports from Latin America, shipped and marketed by the US banana transnational, the Chiquita Corporation, and had not complied with the WTO ruling in its new regime.

The European Commission, which represents and speaks for the 15-member EU, made clear at the outset (when members met informally to argue whether the Council should meet without the normal 10-day notice) that it was not looking for any vote or decision at the General Council.

But if the Commission had hoped that a sufficiently large number of key delegations would speak up against the United States unilateralism and imposing trade measures, in the form of withholding final customs clearance and warning importers that they may face a 100% duty on those products retrospectively when customs clearance is finally done, the EC was disappointed.........

Development: Bleak world outlook needs bold measures in North

Geneva, 9 March (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- Unless bold measures are taken by policy makers in the North, to directly inject liquidity into the developing world, to raise imports and economic growth, the world faces the prospect of a development crisis in 1999 which will have serious effects on the industrial world too, UNCTAD's chief macro-economist, Yilmaz Akyuz warned Tuesday.

Akyuz's warning came at a press briefing to release an UNCTAD document, "Global Economic Conditions and Prospects," which had been prepared for the ASEAN as part of UNCTAD's technical assistance to the regional body. A draft version had been presented to a seminar organized by ASEAN in February.

Neither a return to stability in the buffeted Asian economies, nor the apparent containment of the Brazilian crisis, can hide the downside risks facing the global economy in 1999, the report said.

Any further bout of financial instability could push a fragile world economy into recession, the report added........


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