In Brief

15 November 1999

A grouping of European forest owners and industry groups have aligned to forge an alternative sustainable forestry management scheme to compete with the global Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The Pan European Forest Certification Scheme (PEFC) is a European alternative certification scheme intended to be better suited to small-scale private foresters than FSC certification (see BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest Vol. 2, No. 34, 7 September 1998). The FSC is currently the only existing international forest certification scheme. This scheme allows products originating from FSC certified forests to bear the FSC label, indicating that the wood meets recognised standards. However, PEFC officials said their organisation is pursuing a mutual recognition scheme amongst producers world-wide to develop an international alternative to the FSC. "European body sets new forest certification scheme," REUTERS, 8 November 1999; "European forests en route to be certified," PEFC PRESS RELEASE, 5 November 1999. UK Eco-
Friendly Wood Label Wins International Approval", Environment News Service: WorldScan Weekly, 5 November 1999.

Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on 28 October signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at improving the competitiveness of ASEAN agriculture and forestry products through joint efforts in negotiations and promotions. The agreement, which expands upon an earlier 1994 understanding, includes, inter alia, natural rubber, coffee, tea, palm and coconut oils, forest products, tapioca, and frozen prawns. "ASEAN expands co-operation in agriculture and forest products," GLOBAL TRADE COMPASS, 4 November 1999.

U.S. President Clinton on 16 November signed an Executive Order requiring the U.S. to conduct environmental reviews on all trade agreements it negotiates. The statement states that: "Trade agreements should contribute to the broader goal of sustainable development. Environmental reviews are an important tool to help identify potential environmental effects of trade agreements, both positive and negative, and to help facilitate consideration of appropriate responses to those effects whether in the course of negotiations, through other means, or both." Agreements requiring an environmental review include comprehensive multilateral trade rounds; bilateral or plurilateral free trade agreements; and major new trade liberalisation agreements in natural resource sectors. It is not clear whether the Executive Order will extend beyond the current administration's mandate, which expires at the end of 2000. ICTSD Internal Files.

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