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Electronic Commerce and the WTO. By Rachel Thompson*
Oct 21, 2002

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  • It’s hard to think of another issue on the GATT/WTO agenda that has generated anywhere close to the hype, suspicion and anti-liberalisation sentiment as electronic commerce. Such was and remains its challenge to the mindsets and methods of multilateral trade negotiations.

    The issue burst on to the WTO agenda in 1997 as the IT/Internet boom was starting its escalation from bull-run to bubble, accompanied by typically blanket media coverage. In North America, Europe, Australia, Japan, taxi drivers and pensioners suddenly became dotcom day traders, and trade officials began to say urgently, “we need to get a policy on this Internet stuff.”

    Only a few months before, at the WTO Ministerial meeting in Singapore in December 1996, the conference “cyberbar” facilities were noticeably novel and under-used. Few delegates had email addresses on their business cards. And electronic commerce was not mentioned in the bitterly contested forward work programme that everyone knew was supposed to lay the preparatory ground for a new Trade Round by 2000. The drama in Singapore was over the usual 1990s issues: language on agriculture, labour standards, whether to start looking at investment and competition policy issues. Almost to one side, though no less fraught and sleepless, an Information Technology Agreement was signed, with some 30 countries committing to tariff elimination or close to it. More would join over the next few years. It was the start of a short-lived “information age” at the WTO.

    The driver of course was the United States. Under the Clinton Administration the US adopted a strategic “building block” approach: securing the WTO basic telecom agreement in 1997, initiating bilateral “joint statements”(1) on e-commerce with trading partners such as the EU, Australia, Japan, Canada, Singapore, Mexico, and putting e-commerce on the agenda for the 1998 WTO Ministerial Conference with the aim of securing two things: a ban on the introduction of new trade barriers against electronic commerce and a set of basic principles for e-commerce regulation.

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    Capitalism is supposed to be a simple economic system
    posted by Tapart News Advocate on 2/23/2004 at 6:00:48 PM

    "Capitalism is supposed to be a simple economic system. It should make it easier for all mankind to be good. All business enterprises need a markup. This markup should be based on local value added economies from the raw product up through to the production stages and to the retail level. If parts of this process is missing in any given geopolitical setting than the whole is affected. There will always be someone who will do something for less. There are all sorts of manipulations where the making and selling of a product as a reasonable markup will be replaced. Consortiums can find ways to gain market shares by selling certain segments of their commerce under costs. The final water mark in gobalism is down to wage slave labor and even child labor combined with destroying safety and ecology regulations. It is obvious companies move their factories to escape these overheads. Companies also move to escape the entitlement societies and in the end, nations find if more difficult to maintain the social and economic balance that took years to evolve. Catherine Mann uses the 1990s for comparisons with more jobs being dislocated in that time than ever before. Workers were promised help if NAFTA, GATT etc cost them their jobs but few if any got any real help. Over a million lost their jobs in the computer industry alone for the past dozen years. In 1998 while a statistical prosperity was proclaimed by President Clinton over 250,000 lost their jobs in high tech. And this was during the time when government and companies poured in billions of dollars to correct the Y2k crisis. This acted as a false stimulus and all bets are off for this reason in comparing the so called statistical prosperity. Unemployment was actually at 15% or more if compared to any unemployment reporting with the past where full time jobs with benefits were the core of all jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics admitted that they could no longer use any of the data from the unemployment offices since only about 40% of all workers could qualify for unemployment insurance. The majority of workers did not make enough money or work long enough at any one jobs to qualify. Personal bankruptcies, the homeless population, the need for emergency food and the trade deficit broke records but were ignored. Against this backdrop, we have people like Catherine Mann doing her thing with statistics and numbers that just do not add up especially if compared to the more prosperous times in our recent history. It seems the big lie works better than the realities of the street and how people live out these terrible times with millions drifting into a silent depression. For more information, see Tapart News and Art that Talks with commentaries and topical art by Ray Tapajna, Chuck Harder, Paul Donovan and others. See the Cross 9/11 Tangle of Terror Artwork asking who will now untangle the terror Globalism has bred. Read America in Terror by Chuck Harder and the House of Cards economy by Paul Donovan. Help restore the American Dream. Vote out everyone that was part of the passage of NAFTA, GATT, WTO and Fast Track. Reference sites at http://yestapart.bizland.com/tapartnews http://tapsnewstory.filetap.com http://arklineart.fotopages.com"

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