south-north development monitor SUNS [Email Edition]

SUNS #4432, Monday 10 May 1999


Trade: More reflection, consultations on WTO DG choice (Chakravarthi Raghavan, Geneva)

Trade: EC to implement banana ruling, will consult on how (Chakravarthi Raghavan, Geneva)

Trade: Palestine to seek observer status in WTO (TWN, Geneva)

Latin America: Exports of organic bananas on the rise (IPS, Rome)

Philippines: Landmark law to ban waste incineration (IPS, Manila)

Costa Rica: Violation of rights denounced before ILO (IPS, San Jose)

Africa: Searching for alternatives, as foreign aid declines (IPS, Addis Ababa)

Excerpts from some selected articles:

Trade: More reflection, consultations on WTO DG choice

Geneva, 7 May (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- After nearly six hours of further discussions, on substance and procedures, the General Council of the World Trade Organization was no nearer choosing its next Director-General, and the chairman, Amb. Ali Mchumo of Tanzania, has recessed the meeting for further reflexion and consultations.

But a number of supporters of Supachai, including Japan, Hong Kong China, India and others said that in their view the "management" of the process with facilitators Lafer and Rossier, and then from February by Mchumo and Rossier for naming a Director-General, that began in July 1998, had ended with Mr. Mchumo's report of 30 April, and the Council was now in the 'decision-mode' and any consultation by Mchumo had to be on that.

There has been no indication of when the next meeting will be held. While there was some talk of a meeting next Wednesday, given the normal Ascension holidays in Europe and other meetings elsewhere, it seemed more likely that consultations would be held and a meeting convened in the week of 17 May.

There were no official briefings, though like the process, this merely seems to have driven "underground" media briefings by trade officials and delegations, though some of the last spoke freely to the media outside the meeting room about what they had said inside.

One of those who did, Amb. Alejandro De La Pena of Mexico, said the problems facing the Council was due to the failure of the members to clearly specify the procedures and processes, well in time before a vacancy in the office and before any candidate or candidatures were likely. Instead, after the 1986 Contracting Parties decision, there had been no attempts and a rules-based organization seemed to be attempting to function without rules. "We are now making a spectacle of ourselves and we as members ought to be ashamed," he said.

Trade: EC to implement banana ruling, will consult on how

Geneva, 6 May (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The European Communities announced at the WTO Thursday that it would start consultations with Ecuador on ways to implement the ruling of the reconvened banana panel, and in full conformity with the Dispute Settlement Understanding.

The EC statement came at the Dispute Settlement Body which adopted the report and recommendations of the banana panel, which had been reconvened under Art. 21.5 on the conformity of the new banana regime with the WTO and gave a ruling against the EU and made suggestions on how the EU regime could be brought into conformity.

The EC is to begin consultations in Brussels Friday with representatives of Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama, the four countries with "substantial interests in the banana trade," said the Ecuadorean representative to the WTO, Amb. Roberto Betancourt.

The EC is also to have talks, also in Brussels, with the 12 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) banana exporters, as well as with countries from the "other" category, including small exporters and those like the US with commercial interest in the banana trade.

Trade: Palestine to seek observer status in WTO

Geneva, May 7 (TWN) -- Palestine intends to seek observer status at the World Trade Organization (WTO), in a bid to change its current status as a separate customs territory, possessing full autonomy in the conduct of its external commercial relations.

At a meeting organized jointly in Amman (3-5 May) by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a number of Arab countries discussed the issue of accession to the WTO and WTO- related issues.

Acceding Arab countries that participated in the meeting were Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. Experts from Palestine and Yemen also participated.

Article XII of the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the WTO allows for membership as a State or a separate customs territory with full autonomy in external trade relations and jurisdiction over internal economic affairs.

In the interim period, Palestine's economic relations are governed by its protocol with Israel - which means the adoption of the broad framework of the Israeli trade policy.

Israel became a contracting party to the GATT in 1962. As such, trade between other WTO members and Israel, as well as Palestine, are subject to rules and disciplines of the WTO. Israel's commitment therein, which are binding upon Palestine, predetermine the framework of Palestinian trade policy.

Already, Palestine has concluded free trade and preferential trade agreements with EFTA states, the United States, Canada, Jordan and Egypt and other Arab states.

The Amman meeting also focused on the negotiation of commitments in specific sectors: concessions on foreign access to markets for goods, including the agreement on trade in information technology products (ITA), and specific commitments on services, and their impact on acceding countries' economies. Market access, domestic support and export subsidies in the agricultural sector were also discussed.

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