G-77 SEEKS VOICE IN INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC AFFAIRS. Concerned about the lack of a voice for developing nations in WTO and IMF affairs, representatives from the 133 developing countries making up the G-77 met in London to discuss ways of securing political muscle in economic forums. A source close to the discussions stated, "They want informal influence at the WTO and IMF rather than long speeches at the UN." At the end of the two-day meeting, members expressed concern about trade barriers biased against developing nations, the environment, and national debt. Members also agreed on the necessity of becoming better organised through the development of a small coordinating group which is to meet periodically in London. Early indications are that former Commonwealth secretary-general Sonney Ramphal will chair the coordinating group. An early test of the political strength of the organisation will be seen when a special report on trade and the environment will be presented by the G-77 to the UN Millennium Summit in New York this week. Main participants in the conference were Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, Malaysian president Mahathir Mohamad, and Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. "Third world aims a spearhead at rich club," THE GUARDIAN OBSERVER, 25 August 2000.
WORLD FINANCIAL LEADERS EXPRESS CONCERN OVER THE FUTURE OF TRADE LIBERALISATION. Calls for greater public support for free trade agreements emerged as a central theme at a Jackson Hole, Wyoming (USA) conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Mike Moore, the WTO's Director-General, told the conference that "It's my conclusion that launching a new round is going to be extremely difficult," adding that "it will only happen if sustained pressure on governments produces the political will needed to adopt positions in sensitive areas." While Moore applauded the increasingly active role played by developing countries in trade negotiations he also noted that "getting 137 discordant voices to sing the same hymn sheet is harder" than getting the US and European Union to agree. Stanley Fischer, former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, urged developed countries to adopt more liberal trade policies in agricultural trade so as not to shut out developing countries from global markets. He also urged officials to listen to critics in leading industrialised countries about the potential damage to labour rights and the environment due to globalisation. Alan Greenspan, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, also addressed the conference, saying that policy-makers must "understand and, if possible, address the concerns that give rise to the desire to roll back globalisation". "Moore Sees Difficulty In Launching New Trade Talks," DOW JONES CAPITAL MARKETS REPORT, 25 August 2000; "Critics of globalisation promised a hearing," FINANCIAL TIMES, 28 August 2000; "Amid Talk of Financial Crises, More Worry on Protectionism," BLOOMBERG, 26 August 2000.
CANADA INCREASES MARKET ACCESS FOR LEAST-DEVELOPED COUNTRIES. The Canadian government announced on Friday that it would allow 570 additional products produced in the world's least-developed countries (LDCs) to enter its market duty-free. The tariff measures, which took effect on 1 September, mean that 90 percent of product categories from the world's LDCs may now enter Canada duty-free. "By gaining greater access to the Canadian market, least-developed countries are benefitting from the global trading system," said Canada's International Trade Minister Pierre Pettigrew. "These measures also demonstrate Canada's support for the WTO and its efforts to promote further trade liberalisation." Canada's market access announcement forms part of its commitment to contribute to a four-point WTO plan which seeks to build the capacities of developing countries within the world trading system.. "Canada Further Opens Market To Least-Developed Countries," CANADA DFAIT, 25 August 2000. "Canada Govt Opens Markets To Least-Developed Countries," DOW JONES NEWS SERVICE via DOW JONES, 25 August 2000.
ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS URGE CANADA TO STOP ACCEPTING PCB WASTE FROM THE US. Greenpeace and the Basel Action Network (BAN) have sent a letter to the Canadian Minister of the Environment David Anderson urging Canada to categorically halt imports of PCB wastes from the US. This follows a report by the two groups that earlier this month the US Defence Logistics Agency (DLA) sent a mission to Ottawa to explore the possibility of disposing of PCB wastes in Canada which had already been rejected by the Government of Ontario, Environment Canada and the Port of Vancouver. Peter Tabuns, Greenpeace Canada executive director said, "Canada must set a policy of not accepting PCB waste imports from the United States." The letter urges the Canadian government to reject the waste under the Basel Convention, which does not allow countries to import hazardous wastes unless they have the "technical capacity and necessary facilities" for adequate disposal. The letter goes on to note that non-combustion technologies are currently available commercially and would allow the US to safely dispose of the waste. "Environmentalists Denounce New U.S. Government Attempt to Unload Military PCB Waste in Canada," BASEL ACTION NETWORK, 31 August 2000.