July 20, 2001 – The U.S. and EU agree transatlantic stitch-up on trade and climate change.

On the eve of the G8 economic summit in Genoa, Friends of the Earth warns that a transatlantic trade and climate deal being stitched up by U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Zoellick and EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy could, if agreed in Genoa, be the ultimate in lose-lose outcomes for the world’s poor and the environment.

According to latest sources, the US has agreed to support the EU’s call for a new trade round in the WTO in order to smooth transatlantic relationships after the US rejection of the Kyoto Protocol (1) . Since the WTO intends to set its agenda for the next WTO Ministerial in Qatar before the end of July, this sudden change in position by the US (2) is highly significant. In addition to abandoning the Kyoto Protocol, they will now also support WTO trade negotiations opposed by many Southern governments and civil society groups around the world. This is alarming news.

Attempts to bring investment rules into the WTO are seen by many campaigners as an attempt to revive the OECD’s failed Multilateral Agreement on Investment which collapsed in 1997 in the face of unprecedented protest: “A stitch-up on trade and climate is a nightmare scenario for people concerned with protecting their environment and livelihoods. When are governments going to stop listening to big business and start listening to the many millions around the world calling for fair and sustainable economies?” Alexandra Wandel from Friends of the Earth Europe said.

Commenting on remarks made by Bush at a World Bank meeting on Tuesday – specifically that “those who protest free trade are no friends of the poor” – Ronnie Hall, Trade Co-ordinator of Friends of the Earth International added: “Bush has got it wrong again: it’s those who promote free trade that are ‘no friends of the poor’. Who can fail to see that Bush is propping up the interests of transnational companies that benefit hugely from international trade? Companies like Exxon, for example, will be protected from the rigours of Kyoto Protocol regulation, whilst their government helpfully levers open new markets for them via the WTO. The interests of poorer people, invariably the first to feel the costs of climate change and economic instability, aren’t on Bush’s agenda, whatever he says.” (3)

For futher information see the Citizens’ Guide to Trade, Environment and Sustainability and details of FOEI’s activities in Bonn, both of which can be found at www.foei.org.

For additional comments, please contact:
Ronnie Hall: +44 1243 602756
Alexandra Wandel: +32-2-542 01 85
Duncan McLaren: +44 7941 920469

(1) This was announced by EU and US officials ahead of the Group of Eight meeting in a press conference in Washington D.C. on 17 July 2001.
(2) Pascal Lamy, EU Trade Commissioner And Robert B. Zoellick, US Trade Representative in the Washington Post, Tuesday, July 17, 2001; Page A17
(3) US Proposals regarding the ongoing General Agreement on Tariffs and Services (GATS) negotiations focus on a signficant expansion in energy services and are intended to bring oil drilling and exploration and the construction of oil pipelines within the purview of the WTO for the first time.