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BANANAS CONTINUE TO DOMINATE THE MEDIA

EU ADOPTS NEW LATIN AMERICA POLICY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

SECOND ACS SUMMIT IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC IN APRIL

US TRADE POLICY IN 1999 AND PREPARATION FOR NEW ROUND

WTO COMMITTEE COMPLETES REVIEW OF HEALTH-RELATED AGREEMENT

LEADERS ISSUE DECLARATION OF ANTIGUA

FCC CHAIRMAN VOWS TO FIGHT REGULATION OF INTERNET


Previous Trade Watch

CARICOM PREPARES TO RESUME FTA TALKS WITH THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC & MEXICO AGREE TO STRENGTHEN TIES

STUDY RECOMMENDS OPENING UP U.S. COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY IN CUBA 

WTO DISCUSSES GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS

MULTILATERAL AND REGIONAL TRADE SEMINAR PLANNED FOR JUNE

Y2K LIABILITY LAW INTRODUCED

This page was last edited on: Tuesday, March 16, 1999 07:14:40 PM


BANANAS CONTINUE TO DOMINATE THE MEDIA
Reaction to the US action to require Customs bonds on the importation of selected EU imports continued to dominate the media last week.  The US has insisted that it was acting within it rights when it decided to begin withholding liquidation on EU imports in the bananas case.  Much has been made by the US that "duties have not been imposed" but most observers agree that the effect of the Customs  requirement is equivalent to the actual tax being in place.

A special meeting of the General Council was held on March 8th at which WTO member states aired their views, but had no authority to take any decision in the case. The EU said it requested the meeting to urge other countries to condemn the United States for its decision to begin withholding liquidation on imports of selected EU products valued at over $500 million.

The Director General of the WTO released a carefully worded statement calling for consultation, noting that a recommendation was expected from the Arbitrators in just a few weeks   He said  "We have given to the same individuals the task of arbitrating the level of suspension and the consistency of the new EU measures with the rules of the WTO.  In the next few weeks, we will have both determinations...... The rule-based system is working and will continue to work, even if there are different interpretations about some important aspects related to the banana issue".

According to the director, the WTO must better clarify the systemic issues concerning the differences between the two parties over the relationship between Article 21.5 and Article 22 which deal with compensation and timing. The DSB will begin examination of these issues at a first meeting on the 16  March.

In an effort to present the Caribbean side, the Eastern Caribbean States Embassies in Brussels on Friday released a note "Setting the Record Straight" which will be circulated to TRADEWATCH recipients.
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EU ADOPTS NEW LATIN AMERICA POLICY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

The European Commission says it is giving a fresh impetus to political, economic and trade co-operation through adoption of a new Communication on its relations with Latin America (LA). The Communication (policy document) aims at setting out the main themes for reflection relating to future relations between the EU and Latin America before the next Summit at Rio de Janeiro (28-29 June), which will be the first meeting to bring together the Heads of State and Government of the EU, LA and the Caribbean. The Communication defines political, economic and commercial co-operation.

According to the Communication, the Summit offers a unique opportunity to emphasise the specific features of the European approach towards the sub-continent of LA and to define the pillars of EU relations with their partners :

Political and strategic issues: The aim is to establish a mutually advantageous strategic partnership enabling both regions to put across their views more effectively in international forums and multilateral organisations.

Economic and trade issues: The desired objective is the smooth integration of different regions' economies into the global economy, while supporting economic and political reforms to help reduce social tensions, consolidate domestic markets and thereby boost resistance to financial upheavals.

Co-operation: In what remains a fundamental area of Europe's strategy, the objective is to maximise the impact of the resources mobilised and focus them on the less-developed countries and agreed priorities.

It notes that EU-Latin America relations have developed rapidly and fruitfully, passing through three stages: priority on development co-operation; moves to foster economic partnership; and, the present stage, which is rooted in a regional approach and observance of democratic principles and human rights.

In the case of economically more developed partners such as Mercosur, Chile and Mexico, the emphasis has been on strengthening economic ties and substantially developing political dialogue. With Central America and the Andean Community, there has, in contrast, been an emphasis on strengthening development co-operation and preferential access to European markets.

In 1995 the EU adopted a strategy to strengthen this partnership in the period 1996-2000 in a way that was supposed to take account of the diversity of Latin America.  This communication paid scant attention to the special situation of the Caribbean ACP members.   This latest communication will need to be examined in that regard. 
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SECOND ACS SUMMIT IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC IN APRIL

The Second Summit takes place in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, on April 16 and 17. The First ACS Summit was held in Port of Spain in August 1995.  The first working session will consider the ACS's progress over the past four years, after which several presentations on various topics will be made by Member States. Heads will also hold a private meeting on April 17 to allow for a frank and full exchange of ideas. It is expected that Heads will issue their Declaration of Santo Domingo which will outline their vision for the next phase of the development of the ACS.

A First Preparatory Meeting for the Second Summit was convened at the ACS Secretariat in Port of Spain, on February 22 and 23.  A draft agenda for the Summit was approved at that meeting and it was agreed that the first topic on the agenda would include an assessment of the implementation of the Plan of Action on Tourism, Trade and Transport issued by the Port of Spain Summit.  It was also agreed that a specific section under this heading would be devoted to the establishment of a Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Zone (STZ). It is expected that Heads will adopt the Agreement on the Sustainable Tourism Zone after a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the establishment of this Zone is signed by Foreign Ministers at the Second Extraordinary Meeting of the ACS Ministerial Council to take place in Santo Domingo on March 26.  ACS Members are also working towards the declaration of the Caribbean Sea as a Special Area in the context of Sustainable Development.

The third item on the draft agenda, the Meeting agreed, would be Consultation and Concerted Action in International Fora with specific reference to the June 1999 Latin American and Caribbean/European Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
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US TRADE POLICY IN 1999 AND PREPARATION FOR NEW ROUND

U.S. trade policy must address traditional concerns such as barriers to exports and agricultural subsidies, as well as a whole new set of issues, according to the President's annual trade policy agenda report.

Among the new issues are market transparency and bribery and corruption, making trade negotiations and institutions responsive to rapid changes in science, technology and commerce and advancing environmental protection and internationally-recognised core labour standards, according to the "1999 Trade Policy Agenda and the 1998 Annual Report of the President of the United States on the Trade Agreements Program" released March 9.

"We will seek concrete steps toward the Free Trade Area of the Americas; we will push forward APEC's (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) liberalisation efforts in the Asia-Pacific; seek new areas of consensus and market-opening with Europe through the Transatlantic Economic Partnership; host the first-ever Ministerial Conference in Washington this spring to promote our trade relations with Africa; and promote regional economic integration in the Middle East" and  "The United States will continue to use the dispute settlement procedures strategically to enforce U.S. rights under the WTO agreements."

Meanwhile, speaking on the U.S. objectives in the new round of global trade negotiations which begins late this year, Ambassador Rita Hayes, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Permanent Representative to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said the United States will seek "expedited" talks in a wide range of areas.  "These negotiations will have clearly defined time-tables and expectations, so that we no longer would have to wait six or eight years for a completion of the round," said Hayes, in a March 9 speech to the American International Club in Geneva.

The new round is to be launched at the WTO Ministerial Conference meeting November 30-December 3 in Seattle.

In agriculture, "we envision a broad reduction in tariffs, the elimination of export subsidies, and further reductions in trade-distorting domestic supports linked to production," Hayes said. For services, the United States seeks "specific commitments for broad liberalisation and market access in a range of sectors, including but not limited to audiovisual services, construction, express delivery, financial services, professional services, telecommunications, travel and tourism, and others."

For institution building, Hayes said the new round should include commitments for greater transparency in WTO functions, particularly dispute settlement. It should also include "capacity building" in developing countries to help them implement their WTO commitments and better coordination with the International Labour Organisation, the international financial institutions and other global institutions, she said.

Prior to the Seattle meeting, and at the meeting itself, Hayes said the United States seeks to move forward a number of other important initiatives. These include measures on "information technology, extension of duty free cyberspace, building consensus on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation sectors and transparency in government procurement practices." 
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WTO COMMITTEE COMPLETES REVIEW OF HEALTH-RELATED AGREEMENT

The WTO agreement on food safety and animal and plant health issues has helped to defuse potential disputes, to improve trading relations between countries, and to help countries be better informed about each others' food safety concerns says the WTO's Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures Committee.

In a report on the agreement's implementation, the Committee emphasised that the agreement is still a new framework for dealing with regulations and actions related to food safety and animal and plant health.

Developing countries have raised concerns however about the operation of SPS.  They say they lack the money and the people to deal with the complex and scientific SPS issues such as adopting international standards. They also have difficulties in participating in the development of these standards.

Although the SPS Agreement says developing countries are to be given more time to adjust so that they can continue to export, the committee said it had no information how this provision was being implemented.  Moreover, although the agreement makes provision for the committee to recommend changes to the agreement, no such recommendation was made in this report.

Considering the variety of SPS measures faced daily based exporters in developing countries in access developed markets, the absence of a specific focus on these problems is surprising.

The report is the outcome of a review of the first three and half years of the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.  Sanitary measures deal with animal health and food safety issues.  Phytosanitary measures do the same for plants.   The SPS Agreement came into being on 1 January 1995 with the creation of the WTO.   The agreement attempts to strike a balance between consumer protection and avoiding the use of food safety and animal and plant health as disguised trade protectionism.   It says governments' measures should be based on science and should not discriminate among foreign sources of supply. It encourages the use of international standards. 
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LEADERS ISSUE DECLARATION OF ANTIGUA

Following their one-day summit on March 11 leaders of the United States, Central America and the Caribbean reaffirmed common values and goals ranging from greater cooperation in the anti-drug fight to continued solidarity in the wake of recent natural disasters.

The Declaration of Antigua, issued by the presidents of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, the United States and the Dominican Republic, and the Prime Minister of Belize, focused on the rebuilding process following last year's devastating hurricanes.

They stressed that such transformation should build on the social, democratic and economic strides made over the past decade, and cited the need to enhance democracy, strengthen the rule of law and national reconciliation, foster transparency, expand trade and investment opportunities, and numerous other long-standing goals.

The declaration also expresses thanks for the United States' role in bringing emergency relief to the region, and for supporting bilateral and multilateral initiatives to relieve external debts and pave the way for new investments in the region. 
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FCC CHAIRMAN VOWS TO FIGHT REGULATION OF INTERNET 

The chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), William E. Kennard, has vowed to block attempts to regulate the Internet as long as he is commission chairman.   "Let me say this as clearly as I can: as long as I am chairman of the FCC, we will not regulate the Internet," Kennard said in a speech to the Legg Mason securities company March 11 in Washington.

Kennard said regulation of the Internet, which he called "the fastest growing communications tool in the history of the world," would stifle development of "robust competition" in the telecommunications marketplace. He specifically ruled out imposition of long-distance telephone charges on Internet access.

The FCC chairman said he will act on a Supreme Court ruling in January to look at ways to deregulate local telephone markets in order to increase competition among suppliers of Internet access. 

The full text of his speech is available from TRADEWATCH upon request. 
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Requests for additional information on any of the items in the newsletter should be
directed to Vaughn Renwick, Programme Manager Economic Integration & Trade
Policy, email: vrenwick@carib-export.com

Caribbean Export (Caribbean Export Development Agency) provides a wide range of
business development and market research services to Caribbean enterprises.  It is
an agency of the Forum of Caribbean States (CARIFORUM) and is supported by
those governments and the European Union.

In Barbados: Tel: 246 436 0578, fax: 246 436 9999, email: info@carib-export.com
In the Dominican Republic: Tel: 809 547 2005, fax: 809 547 7532, email:
c.export@codetel.net.do




CARICOM PREPARES TO RESUME FTA TALKS WITH THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

CARICOM trade officials met last week in Trinidad to agree on the list of products which would be excluded from the CARICOM - Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement.  The final list is expected to be submitted to CARICOM Heads meeting in their intersessional meeting in Suriname this week.  The objective of the meeting was to substantially reduce the size of the list to bring more into line with that of the Dominican Republic.   This is important because the list is supposed to be a common list and items it will be equally excluded from free trade in both markets.  The list will also contain some items for which free trade will be introduced on a phased basis.

TRADEWATCH understands that the list was reduced at the CARICOM meeting, while concerns remains over some sensitive products.  Recent news reports have hinted that the Dominican Republic itself may have a somewhat revised list when it next meets with CARICOM, reflecting some of its special concerns.

Once the issues surrounding the agreement on free trade in goods has been resolved, the parties will be turning their attention to the host of other issues to be dealt with before the full FTA can be said to be operational.  These include primarily negotiations relating to the free trade in services, but as well other linked issues relating to proposed agreements on intellectual property rights, dispute settlement procedures and a double taxation treaty among others.  Key among these should be the setting up of the CARICOM/Dominican Business Forum which is expected to drive private sector involvement in the Agreement. 
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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC & MEXICO AGREE TO STRENGTHEN TIES

The Dominican Republic and Mexico have agreed to strengthen their bilateral economic, trade and investment ties, with a particular emphasis in the energy, tourism and air transport sectors according to a report in DR1 of the outcome of the Second Meeting of the Dominican-Mexican Bilateral Commission recently concluded in Mexico City. The Commission was created by the two countries last June with a view to strengthening ties between the two countries through regular dialogue. This second meeting of the Commission was headed by Dominican Republic Foreign Minister Eduardo Latorre and Mexican Foreign Minister Rosario Green.

Among the agreements signed were new cooperation agreements on agriculture, health and social security, as well as information exchanges on phytosanitary regulations and on agricultural research and training programs in the education area. An agreement was also reached on information exchange regarding drug trafficking and related subjects like organised crime, money laundering and illegal arms shipments. The Dominican delegation also delivered new proposals for projects to be funded under the San Josť Agreement. Among the Dominican proposals is to create a special Investment Fund using Agreement money that would target tourism projects in the DR. 
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STUDY RECOMMENDS OPENING UP US COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY IN CUBA

According to a report published in January by the Council on Foreign Relations, more contact, continuing humanitarian aid, help for an evolving economy, and careful attention to specific U.S. policy needs are the best blueprint for U.S. efforts to "contribute to rapid, peaceful, democratic transition in Cuba while safeguarding the vital interests of the United States."   The Council, a New York-based research institution, sponsored the Cuba study, which was conducted by an independent task force comprised of both liberal and conservative experts and headed by William Rogers and Bernard Aronson, both former assistant secretaries of state for Western Hemisphere affairs

The report recommends initial steps to open up U.S. commercial activity on the island.   The recommendations would allow businesses that support Cuba's emerging private sector -- distribution centres for food and medical products, and cultural enterprises -- to be licensed and operate in Cuba.  There would be stronger consensus in favour of substantial private investment when U.S. businesses in Cuba can hire and pay workers directly, observe internationally-recognised worker rights of free association, and provide their goods and services to Cuban citizens, the report asserts. 

The reports makes other wide-ranging recommendations relating to academic, professional, and official exchanges, respect for international copyright, patent, and trademark regimes, direct commercial flights and mail service, increasing spending limits on licensed travellers to Cuba and expansion of U.S. consular services in Cuba as well as a series of specific suggestions on humanitarian issues and increased official counternarcotics cooperation.

The publication of this report follows closely on the Clinton's administration 1998 initiatives on Cuba as well as another series of proposals put forward recently by a group of ex-congressmen to increase U.S. contact with Cuba.  
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NEW ROUND SHOULD PUT EMPHASIS ON FACTORS THAT WILL DOMINATE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE 21ST CENTURY

WTO Director General Renato Ruggiero speaking in Brussels to the European Parliament last week said agriculture cannot again be allowed to become the predominant issue of the new Round. "By focussing too much on traditional issues, we risk overlooking how much the world economy has changed since the Uruguay Round and how important the new issues have become to developing and developed countries alike. I would like to point out that in a new Round we will have to put more emphasis on the factors that will dominate economic development and the global economy in the twenty-first century - especially new technologies and services" said Ruggiero.

The WTO is now at the end of the first phase of the preparations for the Ministerial Meeting.  The second phase, from February to July, will centre on specific proposals from WTO Members to prepare recommendations to Ministers about the future work programme.   While the WTO is committed to negotiations in important areas such as services, agriculture, and aspects of intellectual property, Ruggiero says there is now a growing consensus in favour of a substantial and ambitious multilateral Round, though it should be said that not all countries - especially not all developing countries - are guided by the same vision.

According to Ruggiero, the active participation of developing countries will be essential to the launching and success of such a Round. Developing and least developed countries now make up almost four fifths of the WTO's membership.  Politically this system will not be able to move ahead confidently through its next Ministerial Conference and into the next century without these countries sharing in the belief that new negotiations are warranted and in their economic interests. He told the Parliament that "... a new vision which embraces not only capital movements and trade liberalisation, not jut labour standards, but also social safety nets, environmental, health, education - especially the role of new technologies - poverty elimination, cultural diversity, and the reduction of inequalities as subjects which must be embraced in an improved concept of global economic management." 
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WTO DISCUSSES GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS

A new proposal from the United States and Japan on geographical indications was discussed in the Council on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the body administering the WTO's intellectual property agreement, on 17 February 1999.   Geographical indications the use of place names, or words associated with a place, to identify the origin, type and quality of a product.

The US-Japanese joint proposal is the second to be submitted to the TRIPS Council. The first, discussed at previous meetings, came from the European Union.

Both proposals being discussed are for a multilateral system for notifying and registering protected geographical indications for wines and spirits.  Under the EU's proposal which is more comprehensive than the other, products accepted for registration would be protected in all WTO member countries, although the method each country uses would follow its existing practice.  The EU already has in place an extensive European system of geographical indications.  As an issue it has featured prominently in the ongoing EU-South Africa free trade negotiations in relation to use by South Africa of the names Port and Sherry.

Several developing countries want a system that would cover not only wines and spirits but extended to include other products. In the Caribbean, some states already have national legislation on geographical indications and it is clearly an issue to be studied both in terms of continued access to markets and protecting our traditional products.

The TRIPS Council will continue to discuss this issue at its next meeting in April. Another two countries are said to be preparing their own proposals. 
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MULTILATERAL AND REGIONAL TRADE SEMINAR PLANNED FOR JUNE

An advanced training course for government officials on Multilateral and Regional Trade Issues for the Americas will be held June 28th to July 9th at Georgetown University Campus in Washington

The two week course will address key issues of regional and multilateral trade talks. Course sessions will be taught by a mix of trade analysts and practitioners drawn from the Georgetown University faculty, the WTO, the OAS Trade Unit, subregional organisations such as CARICOM, SIECA and MERCOSUR, as well as law firms and think tanks. One course will be offered in Spanish and a subsequent course in English.

The course will be open to candidates who are from member states of the OAS or officials from regional institutions with responsibilities in trade policy and/or economic integration.  Preference will be given to those candidates from the smaller economies in the Americas.  Applications forms are available at OAS Offices in Member States, and on request from the OAS Trade Unit or Georgetown University Centre for Latin American Studies. 
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Y2K LIABILITY LAW INTRODUCED

USIA reports that a bi-partisan group of congressmen has introduced legislation to contain the legal battles in response to problems related to the Y2K computer failure, according to a press statement released by the office of Congressman David Dreier. The lawmakers say their bill will serve as an incentive for U.S. business to work to solve Y2K related problems rather than concentrating their efforts on protecting themselves from lawsuits.   Observers anticipate that many businesses that experience problems will attempt to sue other companies for compensation.

The legislation announced February 23 apparently attempts to contain the expected litigation by imposing requirements not usually applicable in similar civil court proceedings. The proposed bill would set certain limits for action between defendants and plaintiffs; encourage mediation; limit legal fees; and limit monetary damages. 
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-------------------------------------------------------
Welcome to the TRADEWATCH newsletter from Caribbean Export.  TRADEWATCH
aims to inform and update recipients on a wide variety of trade and economic issues
of importance to the region and forms part of our trade advocacy activities.

Text will normally be sent in-message.  If at any time you wish to be removed from the
mailing list please let us know.  Any comments on the content and readability of the
documentation is appreciated.  We also welcome suggestions for additions or
corrections to our mailing list.

Requests for additional information on any of the items in the newsletter should be
directed to Vaughn Renwick, Programme Manager Economic Integration & Trade
Policy, email: vrenwick@carib-export.com

Caribbean Export (Caribbean Export Development Agency) provides a wide range of
business development and market research services to Caribbean enterprises.  It is
an agency of the Forum of Caribbean States (CARIFORUM) and is supported by
those governments and the European Union.

In Barbados: Tel: 246 436 0578, fax: 246 436 9999, email: info@carib-export.com
In the Dominican Republic: Tel: 809 547 2005, fax: 809 547 7532, email:
c.export@codetel.net.do


For More Information Contact:

Kamer van Koophandel & Fabrieken, Suriname
Mr. J.C. de Miranda Straat 10
Tel: +(597) 473527
FAX: +(597) 470802
Internet: chamber@sr.net


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