Putin says Russia has Enough `Mechanisms’ to `Protect ‘ the ` Market and Citizens’ from ` GMO ‘ without Damaging the WTO ‘

#AceWorldNews – NOVO-OGARYOVO – March 27- Russia has enough mechanisms to protect the market and citizens from genetically modified food, without violating its obligations to the WTO, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.

“We must build our work so as it will not be contrary to our obligations within the WTO, but even with the circumstance taken into consideration, we nevertheless have lawful methods and instruments to protect the domestic market and citizens,” the president noted during the meeting with members of the council of the parliament’s upper house.

The market and citizens must be protected from poor-quality products and food, consequences of consumption of which are not fully studied yet, he notes.

“We can, must and will do it,” Putin said, noting that the issue was discussed by the Security Council recently.

“We must act carefully, not to the detriment of our obligations within the WTO, but it can be done,” the president repeated, noting scientific and laboratory research should be used.

“We will do it together with the public, specialists and deputies,” he said.

Russian News

#ANS2014

#genetically-modified-food, #gmo, #novo-ogaryovo, #russian-president-vladimir-putin, #security-council, #world-trade-organization, #wto

` US Barred Group of Russian Agricultural Officials from entering the country over Kazakhstan’s accession to WTO’

#AceWorldNews says that the US barred a group of Russian agriculture officials from entering the country for a planned negotiation over Kazakhstan’s accession to the World Trade Organization.

The talks were to be held between Tuesday and Thursday in Washington. Russian experts from Rosselkhoznadzor (Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance) were to help Russia’s partner in the Customs Union to harmonize Kazakh local regulations with those used by WTO members.

“Less than a day before the scheduled flight the US Embassy informed via email and phone the deputy head of Rosselkhoznadzor, Nikolay Vlasov, who was to head the Russian negotiation team, that the visit of the Russian experts is unacceptable for the US,” the agriculture regulator said in a statement.

The statement branded the US move “sabotage.”

The Kazakh team had no problems going to the US, the statement said.

The visa denial comes after the US threatened Russia with economic isolation over its stance on Ukraine. Russia approved a possible deployment of Russian troops in Ukraine, if it were needed for protection of ethnic Russians living there from violence.

The self-proclaimed government in Kiev called it “a declaration of war” and announced military mobilization.

RT – #ANS2014

#kazakhstan, #rt-news, #russian, #ukraine, #us, #world-trade-organization, #wto

#TPPA Environment Chapter & Chair’s Commentary: WikiLeaks Issues for NZ 1

#AceSecurityNews says for those interested in the full content of the “Environmental Chapter” here it is in full, l have highlighted and marked the important parts, this may help when reading it, as it is a long document.  

The consolidated draft text of the Environment chapter of the Trans-Pacific partnership Agreement and the accompanying chair’s commentary have been posted in Wikileaks (http://wikileaks.org/tpp-enviro). The documents are dated 24 November 2013, the final day of the Salt Lake City round in November.

The chair’s commentary records the countries that objected to, and in some cases that supported, different aspects of the text. They are consistent with the chart (https://wikileaks.org/IMG/pdf/tpp-salt-lake-positions.pdf) that Wikileaks posted in December showing one country’s assessment of the 12 countries’ positions on many TPPA issues.

TPP What is Wrong?Overview

The Environment Chapter addresses matters of conservation, environment, biodiversity, indigenous knowledge and resources, over-fishing and illegal logging, and climate change, among others. It might be expected to provide balance to the commercial interests being advanced in the other chapters, and genuine protections that are consistent with international environmental law.

Instead of a 21st century standard of protection, the leaked text shows that the obligations are weak and compliance with them is unenforceable. Contrast that to other chapters that subordinate the environment, natural resources and indigenous rights to commercial objectives and business interests. The corporate agenda wins both ways.

The Strategy of a Consolidated Text

The Environment chapter is one of four that have been at stalemate for several years, the others being intellectual property, transparency in healthcare technologies and state-owned enterprises.

The leaked chairs’ text of the chapter and the accompanying chairs’ commentary provide an insight into the process that ministers adopted to break the deadlock on the core unresolved chapters. Both documents say the Ministers in Brunei asked Canada, as chair,2 to produce a consolidated text. It is not clear whether the same request was made to the chairs of the other working groups, but a similar kind of approach would seem likely.

A similar process has proved very controversial at the World Trade Organization (WTO) where it has been used to attempt to break deadlocks in the Doha round (http://focusweb.org/node/12). It was deployed most recently at the WTO ministerial conference (http://www.epw.in/commentary/what-happened-bali-wto-meet-and-why.html) in Bali, which immediately preceded the December 2013 meeting of TPPA ministers in Singapore.

A chairs’ text is meant to be a circuit breaker in negotiations that have become bogged down around a formal text by leaving that text behind. It can be an effective catalyst if all the countries buy into the process. Strong outlier positions can be diluted by the chair’s adoption of compromise or majority positions. The proponents can be marginalised and treated as obstructive if they insist on restoring them, especially if the chair has discretion over what to include and comes from a country that has a strong position themselves. That appears not to have been the approach of Canada in this case, but it could arise if the same approach has been taken for other chapters – especially ones that the US chairs. Successfully restoring positions to the text relies initially on the effectiveness and persistence of officials and subsequently on the relative power of ministers among the Group of 12, and the trade-offs they are willing to make if they consider the issue to be a red line.

The Politics of the Environment Chapter

The chairs’ report shows the main outlier for the Environment chapter is the US.

There are various reasons for that. There is a long history of resistance to environment rules being included in WTO agreements, and certainly becoming subject to trade sanctions through dispute settlement processes. Most of the FTAs that do not involve the US use hortatory language and are not enforceable.

Some parties have commercial interests and political sensitivities they wish to protect. The memorandum by the US environmental groups gives examples of over-fishing and shark-finning, illegal logging, and trade in endangered species and wildlife.

Australia, NZ the US and Canada were the four countries that voted against the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which recognises indigenous rights in relation to genetic resources and biodiversity.

Parties have divergent positions on Multilateral Environmental Agreements. The US has not signed the Convention on Biological Diversity and very few of the twelve countries have signed or ratified the subsequent Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization. The US is also not a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The US Political Dilemma

The US has a particular political dilemma. The text falls far below the standards it has insisted are included in all US free trade agreements since May 2007, which resulted from a deal reached between the Democrat-controlled Congress and President George W Bush.

The most fundamental problem for the US is the refusal of all the other countries to agree that the chapter should be subject to the same dispute settlement mechanism as the rest of the agreement. It provides for consultation at officials and ministerial levels, leading to arbitration and agreement to a plan of action, but there are no penalties if the state does not implement the plan.

Obama is going to find this a very hard sell to domestic constituencies. The timing of the leak could hardly be worse. On 9 January 2014 a Bill seeking fast track authority was presented to the Congress. The controversial fast track process requires the Congress to accept or reject the deal and imposes a strict time limit on debate. The numbers were already stacking up against the Bill, with Democrats especially critical of the erosion of their powers and the secrecy of the negotiations, as well as the reported content. This leaked environment chapter will further erode support among Democratic members of the House of Representatives who are up for re-election later this year. Obama is going to have to rely heavily on unfriendly Republicans.

Scope of the chapter

The scope of the chapter is unclear. There are references to environmental laws, policies, practices and proceedings, which is potentially very broad. But only ‘environmental laws’ is defined, and defined narrowly as laws whose primary purpose is either (a) protection of the environment or (b) preventing danger to human life or health, and only when those laws pursue this purpose through rules that relate to pollutants or environmental contaminants, control of environmentally hazardous or toxic materials, or conservation of wild flora or fauna. The chapter would not, for example, apply to resource management laws that seek to balance a range of commercial, recreational and environmental interests.

The chapter also only applies at the central/federal government level, whereas a large number of environmental regulations and decisions are sub-federal.

Indigenous rights and Biodiversity

Most of Article SS.13 on Trade and Biodiversity is weak and aspirational, drawing from the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It will do nothing to neutralise rules in other chapters that enable commercial exploitation of biodiversity, especially the intellectual property chapter.

In paragraph 2, for example, parties commit to ‘promoting and encouraging the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity and sharing in a fair and equitable way the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources.’

The sovereign rights of governments over natural resources to determine access to them and to legislation in paragraph 4 seems aimed at reasserting state control vis-a-vis indigenous people’s and local communities, not just over foreign interests.

Obligations in Article 13 are also subject to domestic legislation, which potentially makes them even more meaningless.

Prior consent to accessing genetic resources and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits in paragraph 5 relates to the state, not to indigenous people’s or local communities.

This falls far short of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which all the parties except for the US have now signed. The Obama administration announced in 2010 its intention to do so. Article 31 of the Declaration says:

  1. Indigenous people’s have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions.
  2. In conjunction with indigenous people’s, States shall take effective measures to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights.

Four countries (Malaysia, Peru, Vietnam and Brunei) want the provisions to extend to derivatives of genetic material, which is where the commercial benefits lie. This is consistent with the Nagoya Protocol, which refers in Article 5 to fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the utilisation of genetic resources as well as subsequent applications and commercialisation.

Peru and Mexico also want a requirement in paragraph 3 for indigenous people’s and local communities to approve and be consulted on conservation and sustainable use of their knowledge, innovations and practices, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from their use. That is consistent with both the Nagoya Protocol and the UN Declaration.

New Zealand does not support either of these stronger positions. That is likely to create issues with iwi, and with the Maori Party, as the changes being proposed to strengthen the role of indigenous people’s appear to be consistent with the Waitangi Tribunal report Ko Aotearoa Tenei (WAI 262) on Maori traditional knowledge and resources.

The US says it cannot agree to the entire Article because it is not a party to the CBD.

Other issues for NZ

New Zealand is part of the WTO group ‘Friends of the Fish’. The proposals in Article SS16.6 to restrict fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing fall far short of the positions they have promoted. These are detailed in the US environment groups’ memo.

Article SS16.4 does not require a ban on shark finning.

In Article SS15 the parties merely agree to discuss ways to deal with climate change with possible links to the APEC process. The US and Australia oppose even that provision. There is no reference to the regional carbon-trading scheme that Trade and Climate Change Minister Tim Groser has been promoting, which would expose climate change measures even more deeply to speculative finance markets, although there is general recognition of market-based mechanisms.

Other chapters dealing with the environment

The environment chapter is one of many – the TPPA is generally described as having 29 chapters or sections of chapters. Environment policy, regulation and practices are affected by many other chapters, which impose substantive obligations and rules.

The most egregious threat to the environment is the investment chapter, in particular the prior consent by all countries except Australia to investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). The majority of investment arbitrations under similar agreements involve natural resources, especially mining, and have resulted in billions of dollars of damages against governments for measures designed to protect the environment from harm caused by foreign corporations. The US is also demanding that contracts between investors and states that involve natural resources also have access to ISDS.

Chapters that may impact on environmental measures, with some examples, include:

  • investment, eg challenges to tighter rules on mining and remediation rules, bans on fracking and nuclear energy, performance requirements on foreign investors to use of clean technology, restrictions on numbers and locations of waste plants or eco-tourism projects, not lowering environmental standards to attract investors
  • goods market access, eg tariffs (see Article CSR8 on zero tariffs)
  • non-tariff measures – eg green technologies for motor vehicles, prescribed manufacturing or processing methods
  • customs, eg preferential processing for smaller cc vehicles
  • agriculture, eg differential tariffs on organics
  • subsidies and countervailing measures, eg for green or clean energy production
  • sanitary and phytosanitary (quarantine), eg. bans on use of certain pesticides in products, bans or restrictions on imports of GE products
  • technical barriers to trade, eg. GE tracing labelling requirements, food content labelling, emission standards (see also non-tariff measures)
  • intellectual property, eg. new technologies, seeds, patented food products, organics trademarks, biodiversity, genetic resources
  • cross-border services eg. e-services including computerised remote operation of oil and gas extraction, engineering and other professional services, remediation services, delivery of environmental technologies; the chapter is likely to crossover with investment on local establishment of commercial activities, eg waste disposal and water companies, mining and fisheries processing operations, etc.
  • financial services eg. tradeable financial instruments such as energy derivatives, carbon credits.

 These chapters have their own rules, which would complement and possibly conflict with those in the environment chapter. Many will also have their own committees to review compliance, obligations and procedures for consultation, and enforcement mechanisms. For investment those mechanisms include investor-state dispute settlement.

The Transparency and Regulatory Coherence chapters require decision-making and regulatory processes that are also additional to those in the Environment chapter. They may involve preparation and disclosure of documents, right of participation of foreign commercial interests in domestic decision-making, review procedures, use of light handed regulation, and evidence to support the level of regulatory intrusion on commercial interests. These may collectively provide multiple pressure points on a government and assist investors to compile a dossier of material to use in a dispute, including investor-state disputes.

The standard general exceptions provisions are mostly subject to a ‘necessity’ test, requiring the government to adopt the measure for conservation, environment or human health purposes that intrudes least on commercial interests. It must also not be discriminatory or a ‘disguised barrier to trade’. The US has not agreed that this exception should apply to the investment chapter, although it is facing pressure to do so.

Unlike other leaked chapters, there is very little guidance on how the chapters inter-relate or what happens if there is a conflict.

Courtesy of: Professor Jane Kelsey

16 January 2014 (NZDT)

 

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#acesecuritynews, #canada, #congress, #george-w-bush, #multilateral-environmental-agreement, #salt-lake-city, #sierra-club, #trans-pacific-strategic-economic-partnership, #united-states, #wikileaks, #world-trade-organization

“Changing Labelling to “Made in Italy” Can Lead to Loss of a Person’s Lifestyle in an Instant when the Police Arrive”

#AceWorldNews says according to this latest news post by Silvia Aloisi on Dec 30, that changes to labelling can lead to loss of a person’s lifestyle in an instant, when the police arrive. This happened to Shen Jianhe who lost both her job and home when Italian police shut down her garment factory in the Tuscan city of Prato.

 

Shen Jianhe lost both her job and home when Italian police shut down her garment factory in the Tuscan city of Prato.

 

An SVG map of China with Zhejiang province hig...

An SVG map of China with Zhejiang province highlighted Legend: Image:China map legend.png (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

By day, the 38-year-old mother of four would sew trousers at one of the nearly 5,000 workshops run by Chinese immigrants in Prato, which largely turn out cheap clothing for fast-fashion companies in Italy and across Europe.

 

At night she slept in a plasterboard cubicle hidden behind a wooden wardrobe at the Shen Wu factory – until the police arrived one cold December morning. They sealed the doors and confiscated the 25 sewing machines under a crackdown on an industry that is booming but blighted by illegality and sweatshop conditions.

 

Amid rolls of fabric, food leftovers and dangling electric cables lay Shen’s belongings: a pink baby coat, a blue children’s stool, a laptop. She stuffed them into a van, ready to be transported away.

 

“What choice do I have?” said Shen, tears filling her eyes.

 

Prato, the historical capital of Italy‘s textile business, has attracted the largest concentration of Chinese-run industry in Europe within less than 20 years.

 

As many as 50,000 Chinese live and work in the area, making clothes bearing the prized 

 

Piazza del Comune, Prato Italia

 

label which sets them apart from garments produced in China itself, even at the lower end of the fashion business.

 

In some ways, the Chinese community of Prato has succeeded where Italian companies have failed. Italy’s economy has barely grown over the past decade and is only just emerging from recession, partly due to the inability of many small manufacturers to keep up with global competition.

 

Yet Prato, which lies 25 km (16 miles) from the Renaissance jewel of Florence, is also a thriving hub of illegality committed by both Italians and Chinese, a byproduct of globalization gone wrong, many people in the city say.

 

Up to two thirds of the Chinese in Prato are illegal immigrants, according to local authorities. About 90 percent of the Chinese factories – virtually all of which are rented out to Chinese entrepreneurs by Italians who own the buildings -break the law in various ways, says Aldo Milone, the city councilor in charge of security.

 

This includes using fabric smuggled from China, evading taxes and grossly violating health and labor regulations. This month a fire, which prosecutors suspect was set off by an electric stove, killed seven workers as they slept in cardboard cubicles at a workshop.

 

Italian officials acknowledge they haven’t cracked down effectively on the mushrooming illicit behavior.

 

prato fountain

prato fountain (Photo credit: Travlr)

 

Prato mayor Roberto Cenni, himself a textiles entrepreneur, arrived in 2009 promising to clean up the area. Cenni says he has trebled inspections since then, but still only a small fraction of the factories are monitored regularly.

 

“We don’t have the ability to fight this system of illegality,” he said, noting that Prato has only two labour inspectors.

 

In some cases, local officials share the blame. Prato chief prosecutor Piero Tony ordered the arrest of 11 people this month, including a city council employee who is suspected of issuing false residency permits – for between 600 and 1,500 ($820-$2,100) euros a piece – to more than 300 Chinese immigrants since May.

 

STIFF COMPETITION

 

Maps of Zhejiang Province of China

Maps of Zhejiang Province of China (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Most of Prato’s Chinese come from Wenzhou, a coastal city in Zhejiang province. They started flocking to Prato in the mid-1990s to work in Italian-owned textile factories and quickly mastered the entire production chain.

 

Andrea Cavicchi, local head of the Confindustria business lobby, says China’s entry in the World Trade Organisation in 2001 sounded the death knell for many of Prato’s local clothing artisans as trade barriers imposed by the European Union to protect its manufacturers were gradually phased out.

 

As local companies specialized in high-quality fabric began cutting jobs to compete with cheaper foreign imports, Chinese entrepreneurs started renting abandoned Italian warehouses to set up their own factories. Gradually, the Chinese of Prato offered the speed, efficiency and high productivity that many Italian businesses had lacked.

 

Now they export millions of low-cost garments – a woman’s cotton shirt sells for under 2 euros, a coat for 12 – across the continent. The Prato branch of Confindustria estimates this business is worth 2 billion euros a year, or half the turnover of Italian-run textile manufacturers in the district.

 

Logo de Confindustria

Logo de Confindustria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

“Between 2001 and 2011, the Italian textile industry in Prato has seen its turnover and its workforce halve. But the reality is we can’t really blame the Chinese. The problem is our labor and energy costs mean we can’t compete,” says Cavicchi. “Speed is crucial. In just three days they can churn out thousands of garments. And the final result – even though it’s cheap cloth imported from China – is perfect.”

 

Trucks ferry the clothing to shoppers in the major European markets within a day or two. In the fast-changing fashion business, this gives the Prato workshops a competitive edge over rivals in China, which take 40 days to ship their output by sea to Europe.

 

Outside Prato’s city walls, the main Via Pistoiese has turned into a bustling Chinatown, with Chinese restaurants, hairdressers, schools, travel agents, and youths practicing the martial art of Tai Chi in the park.

 

For many years, Prato’s local government did little about the growing Chinese community, whose presence helps the local economy. “There was a tacit pact to look the other way, because the Chinese were also bringing in a lot of money, helping cushion the impact of the global financial crisis on the region,” said Massimo Bressan, a researcher on immigration issues at Prato’s Iris institute.

 

When Cenni became Prato’s mayor, he promised to restore the rule of law in the city of just under 200,000. In addition to increasing the number of inspections on factories, the local government raised the cost of reclaiming confiscated machinery and introduced a decree that allows a warehouse to be declared “unfit” until it meets safety regulations.

 

But part of the problem is that 60 percent of Chinese workshops last just two years, often closing and reopening under a different name to evade checks by tax authorities. Illegal immigrants found by the police are ordered to leave Italy within five days, but there is no way of making sure that they actually do so, said the city councilor for security, Milone. “It’s a joke,” he said.

 

Moreover, many illegal immigrants arrive on three-month tourist visas but stay in Italy for a few years, until they make enough money to go back to China.

 

“I have done inspections for 15 years, and I can tell you that for every factory we close, another one will sprout the next day. Here the attitude is too lax, there is a form of connivance,” said a judicial police officer who did not want to be named because he is not allowed to talk to the press.

 

FLAMES

 

Outside the Teresa Moda factory which went up in flames this month, charred coat hangers and rolls of fabric lie scattered on the ground, the remains of burnt black out curtains preventing people from looking inside.

 

“Pain has no color” read a sheet of paper outside the gate taped above pictures of the seven victims, whom police say took days to identify because relatives were too scared to come forward. One of the dead suffocated as he tried to escape through a window guarded by iron bars.

 

A Chinese worker who had come to pay his respects said he made on average 70 shirts a day and was paid 70 cents for each shirt. In a good month, the worker – who said he was afraid to give his name – said he could earn 1,500 euros.

 

Nearby, at the Shen Wu factory workers had regularly sat at their sewing machines for up to 14 hours a day. Li Hong, 29, had been working there for nearly a month, every day, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

Shen Jianhe was the longest-serving worker at the factory. She had been in Italy for 10 years, and was the only worker there with a residency permit and work contract. “What will happen to my sewing machine? I need it to work,” she said, as police began sealing all tools found on the premises.

 

Shen said her children did not live with her at the factory, although children’s items – including a storybook with the title “Where is my mummy?” – were strewn across the floor of her windowless, damp cubicle, which measured about 2 square meters and was almost entirely filled by a bed.

 

“Now I need to find another job. I must feed my children,” she said.

 

 

 

#aceworldnews, #china, #chinese, #confindustria, #european-union, #italy, #overseas-chinese, #prato, #world-trade-organization, #zhejiang

” UK Government Heralds WTO Export Deal – But All That Money Will Do Very Little For the UK Economy”

END WTO#AceNewsServices says a landmark global trade deal, which will boost the UK economy by more than £1bn a year was heralded by Prime Minister David Cameron today.

Sounds great and almost too good to be true but of course behind every headline is a real truth wanting to get out, well this deal is no different. The companies that benefit from the £1 billion trade deal will be the some of the 100 that have duly supported all the austerity measures so far, with more to come. Well you have to pay for the 134 hangers-on that visited China, the word paternalism comes to mind in this case. The real truth about this deal is those that need it most will not even get a sniff, and those that need it least will benefit to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds!

The emphasis will be on jobs and of course we all want full-time employment, or wage slaves willing as l have found out to work for less than the minimum wage, just for the fear of losing their benefits. The cost of these jobs to the “British People” apart from their self-respect well short-term contracts for long-term gain for the companies that benefit.

Well as long as the economy benefits it would seem a good deal, but truth as l have said is stranger than fiction and exports for companies who can afford it, such as Ford, Jaguar and JCB means massive profits. These massive profits though will not benefit the UK to the tune of £1.00 ,as all these companies have offshore domains and bank accounts to match. So all their profits will not come back into the UK ,but be held offshore until one day they need to fund another “Trade Deal” and can look like they are re-investing into the “British Economy” with one hand and taking it out with the other.

 

#acenewsdesk, #1-billion, #bali, #british-people, #china, #david-cameron, #economy-of-the-united-kingdom, #international-trade, #prime-minister-david-cameron, #trade-deal, #uk, #uk-economy, #uk-minister-for-trade, #united-states, #vince-cable, #world-trade-organization, #wto