Focus on APEC #14 6.17.97

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FOCUS on APEC

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Date: Tue, 17 Jun 1997 07:30:01 -0600

Focus on APEC #14

A regular bulletin produced by Focus on the Global South (FOCUS)

Bangkok, Thailand

Number 14 May 1997

This is the final issue of Focus-on-APEC. The next bulletin will be

renamed Focus on Trade, covering a wider range of issues. Walden Bello

will report on the WTO Symposium on Trade, Environment and Sustainable

Development, 20-21 May 1997, in Geneva, there will be news from the

upcoming round of APEC ministers meetings and an assessment of what

APEC has achieved and where it is going.

FOCUS was designated the NGO Information/Monitoring Center on APEC

(Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum) by the participants of the

1995 NGO Forum on APEC in Kyoto, Japan. It was out of this

commitment that FOCUS-on-APEC was created. FOCUS-on-APEC carries

APEC-related news, the latest items of interest and concern, and

informed and critical analysis from a progressive perspective — with

a broad geographical concentration on East Asia and the Western and

South Pacific.

FOCUS-on-APEC is where you can learn about other people’s APEC-related

work and they can learn about yours. Please send us your APEC-related

information (by e-mail, fax or snail-mail!) — including news items,

research papers, opinion pieces and information on grassroots

activities happening in your respective country. Your contributions

will be incorporated into the bulletins.

We welcome your comments and suggestions!

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IN THIS ISSUE

Growth won’t be green under APEC

Report of the APEC experts group on voluntary consultative dispute

Plans for the 1997 People’s Summit on APEC International forum>


Transfer interrupted!

ationship between workers rights and democratic development

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—————– ASIA-PACIFIC: Growth Won’t Be Green Under APEC Free

Trade Johanna Son

MANILA, Mar 20 (IPS) – Free trade in the Asia-Pacific is likely to

cause even greater damage to the environment as the economic growth of

region’s economies accelerates.

East Asia’s economic power houses have enriched themselves at a heavy

cost to nature, and it has long been evident that such growth is not

sustainable.

The Bangkok-based Focus On The Global South, in a report for the ‘Rio

Plus Five’ conference on the environment that ended Wednesday in

Brazil, said free trade conflicts with long-term environmental

concerns.

”The rapid industrialisation of the Asia-Pacific region has produced

an environmental situation that can only be described as bordering on

crisis,” said the report written by Walden Bello and Nicola Bullard

of Focus.

Yet the governments of 18 Asia-Pacific economies are pursuing efforts

to institutionalise free trade within the Asia-Pacific Economic

Cooperation (APEC) forum.

Formed in 1989, APEC spans North and Latin America to South-east Asia

and Pacific and aims to tear down all barriers to trade and investment

by the year 2020.

Its members are Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand,

Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea,

Brunei, Mexico, Chile, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong and

Taiwan.

APEC was meant to be a loose consultative forum aimed at discussing

not only freeing up trade but pursuing technical and development

cooperation. But pressures from the industrialised economies are

pushing APEC to focus more on its free trade goal, despite doubts by

developing member economies.

In the process the environment is not getting enough attention,

despite rhetoric among APEC members about integrating ”sustainable

development” concerns in their discussions, said the report called

‘APEC And The Environment: A Report To The Rio +Five Conference’.

Focus concludes that APEC is an unlikely vehicle for nature-friendly

growth, or for reconciling its aims of freer trade and investment

with environmental protection..

”The body’s (APEC) commitment to preserving the environment in the

Asia-Pacific is largely rhetorical and has not been backed up by

effective programmes,” it said.

Most of East Asia’s tiger economies have paid a high price for their

industrialisation in the last three decades, making their cities

extreme health hazards.

South Korea’s industrialisation is largely responsible for filthy air

in Seoul, which has one of the world’s highest sulphur dioxide levels.

Focus cited studies showing that cancer rates have doubled in Taiwan

since 1960 and that children in Bangkok have among the highest levels

of lead in blood due to air pollution.

A large number of Asia’s rivers are degraded or dead, even as its

capitals race to build the highest skyscrapers and the biggest

shopping malls. In China, up to 30 percent of the agricultural land

are degraded, lost to erosion or converted into urban real estate

since the 1950s.

Deforestation remains a concern in many South-east Asian countries,

and this year’s ‘State of the World’s Forests’ report says tropical

Asia-Oceania still has the highest rates for forest loss at nearly one

percent a year.

And as Asia strives to catch with the industrialised economies of the

world, it is also producing more greenhouse gases. The region’s carbon

dioxide emissions are expected to rise from the current 25 percent of

global production to 36 percent by 2025.

Some of these concerns–from the liveability of cities to the state of

the marine environment–were discussed in meetings leading up the 1996

APEC summit in the Philippines and endorsed by President Fidel Ramos,

who was APEC chair last year.

At one point, Ramos said: ”We finally stand on the threshold of

unprecedented growth and change. That threshold–unless we watch our


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