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

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  • This extraordinary pre-emptive strike by the WTO Secretariat, made just a few weeks before WTO Ministers were due to decide the organisation’s response to e-commerce, was the product of frantic maneuvering and heated fights within the Secretariat itself. The Services Division in particular took a highly combative stand internally, insisting that its own language prevail on definitions and on the application of GATS to all electronic transmissions including those containing software, books, audio and visual material. This was justified privately to those of us who asked as essential to safeguard the integrity of the GATS and the sector commitments that had (or had not, in the case of audio-visual services) been made under it. The result was a report that upheld the EU point of view that existing agreements were adequate although additional carve-outs may be needed for content, consumer and data protection; and sidelined the prospects for a horizontal WTO text on e-commerce that the US, Japan and some of the smaller developing countries would go on to seek without success.

    The WTO Ministerial Conference in May 1998, in Geneva, agreed to an interim moratorium, until the next Ministerial, on tariffs being applied to electronic transmissions and authorised a work programme to study the implications of e-commerce for the WTO Agreements. It took the General Council until September 1998 to thrash out the procedural details of that mandate. The solution was for each of the main WTO bodies – Goods Council, Services Council, TRIPS Council and Committee on Trade and Development – to study the issues pertaining to their areas of responsibility and report back to the General Council prior to the next Ministerial. In the event only the Services Council made a detailed show of the exercise but was unable to agree on the issue of classification for products with both physical and electronic form (software, books, music, film etc)(4).

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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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