south-north development monitor SUNS [Email Edition]

SUNS #4427, Monday 3 May 1999


Trade: Banana rulings don't cut any Gordian knots (Chakravarthi Raghavan, Geneva)

Trade: WTO 'Millennium Round' challenged by NGOs (IPS, Brussels)

Environment: US funds fossil fuel projects (IPS, Washington)

Europe: Balkan economies battered by war in Yugoslavia (IPS, Washington)

Finance: Self-interest behind IMF ponzi loan to Russia (IPS, Washington)

Yugoslavia: Seeks World Court ruling on air strikes (IPS, New York)

Excerpts from some selected articles:

Trade: Banana rulings don't cut any Gordian knots

Geneva, 30 Apr (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- Caught up in the tangle of banana disputes -- the labrynthian EC trade regimes and preferences and their administration, US assertion of unilateralist rights, and ill-drafted and imprecise dispute settlement rules -- the WTO Dispute Settlement Body "compromised" by referring all the problems to the reconvened banana panel, acting in different capacities, to find a "logical way forward".

On April 7, the DSB authorized US sanctions, and is due to consider (and probably adopt) on 6 May, the report on Ecuador's Art. 21.5 reference. The EC has also said that while it would take a little to choose and implement one of the options in the Ecuador ruling, and change its regime, it would do so.

In handing down its rulings on the WTO compliance of the new EC banana regime and assessing the value of trade damage suffered by the US, the three-member panel may have sought to bring to a close "the endless loop" of banana disputes, but trade observers feel it may have shored up the WTO's potential as a trade instrument for US power play.

It has been the US contention, not merely in this dispute, that if it wins a dispute, during the "reasonable period for implementation" provided by arbitration, the other party must consult and negotiate with the US how it would comply.

However, if there is no agreement, and the other side goes ahead and changes its trade measures and laws to give effect to what it views as compliance, but this does not meet with US "demands", at the end of the "reasonable period", the US would straightaway seek authorization for impairment (which the WTO is required to give automatically, subject to an arbitrator's assessment of level of impairment) and impose trade sanctions.

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