Published to the Web: Wednesday 8 January 2003 @ 3.25pm CET
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Thursday 23 January

According to ICDA's WTO Impact List#343, Morocco entertains a Free Trade Area with the United States. The article, from the Washington Post is unequivocal in its claim that:
"This U.S.-Morocco [free-trade agreement] will send a powerful signal to the rest of the Muslim world that President Bush is committed to supporting the development of open, prosperous societies in all regions of the world..."
Read the news at our Regional Trade Page here.

Meanwhile, an article from the Antigua Sun newspaper on the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), scheduled for 2005, expressed deep concern for the region. So-called Non-Trade concerns (NTC) such as agriculture, food aid, environment, and rural development are being subordinated to trade issues. Trade, ultimately, only goes to support a profit-ridden international system that does not take into concern lives of ordinary people. Posted:Thursday 23/1/03 @ 6.29pm CET

Monday 20 January

Last Friday's focus on Ffd-IFIs-TNCs, covered articles that could have come under this section of Regional Trade.

  • ECOWAS--IMF warns that Nigeria's astronomical size could adversely affect ECOWAS's common currency scheduled for 2004. To boot, Nigeria's corruption and so-called "uncontrolled government spending" could be factors that would make the largest West African economy unsuitable.
  • [ Background? Check ICDA's WTOIL SOD Report 2001 here.]

  • AGOA--Second AGOA Forum was held 13-17 January in Mauritius. The Mauritius Minister of Industry & Int'l Trade, J.Cuttaree, called upon the US to invest more in Africa. Sadly, he sees any possible answers coming only from US Trade representative Zoellick.
  • [Background: COMESA's Website.]

    Posted: Monday 20/1/2003 @ 4.58pm CET

    Friday 17 January

    London's Guardian newspaper ran two articles yesterday that touched both generally and specifically on the aspects of the dynamics of regional trade.

    The first article was a short, albeit bleak, assessment of the future of the banana. The author predicts that by 2013, we could be eating GM bananas.

    The second article by the Globaphobe's diva, Naomi Klein, was a terse argument on how the two major regional blocs--the US and the EU--are creating so-called regional strongholds by allowing poorer members within their regional areas so that they can, respectively, do the dirty work of the members of these two trade blocs. Read the linked articles at:(ICDA's WTOMC4 Regional Trade Page)

    In the meantime, please read ICDA Member Banana Link's press release that was sent to us by Director Liz Parker:


    Scientists are absolutely right to issue a warning which seems to have sown panic amongst consumers: the world banana trade does indeed depend almost entirely on one chemically-addicted variety, the Cavendish.

    What provoked the Irish famine in the 19th century was a single variety planted across huge areas of land and ravaged by disease in one fell swoop. The banana crisis shows that the lessons of 'mono-cultures' have not been learned: a fungal disease called black sigatoka has been wreaking more and more havoc in the wall-to-wall plantations of identical plants; only unsustainable volumes of chemicals have been keeping it at bay.

    Some ten million people in 25 tropical countries also depend on this threatened banana for their living. Nothing could replace this crucial source of income in countries where hunger and poverty are the rule rather than the exception. The extinction of Cavendish bananas would be an untold social and economic disaster for communities across Latin America, the Caribbean, West Africa and the Philippines.

    "Every day hundreds of thousands of banana plantation workers across the world suffer the consequences of aerially applied chemicals to control fungal disease. We see skin and eye problems, cancers, even birth defects as a result of the deluge of pesticides sprayed on the lands which grow our favourite fruit." said Alistair Smith, International Coordinator of Norwich-based not-for-profit organisation Banana Link*.

    The dilemma facing these communities is that they are suffering because of growing bananas for export, and they would suffer if bananas were to disappear. We consumers can live without them, although the supermarkets would be very upset by the loss of their most profitable product. But the people who depend on the international trade and the millions of small farmers who are seeing their yields collapse because of disease problems will literally go hungry without bananas.

    "Governments, industry and scientists need to get together to agree public and private investment in research on varieties which are not chemical junkies and don't depend on genetic modification." added Smith.


    For interviews please call Alistair Smith, Banana Link 0033 468 200 482

    * Banana Link works to bring about a socially just, economically viable and environmentally sound banana economy. See [posted: Fri 17/1/2003 @ 12.38pm CET]

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