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WTO free logging condemned - Australia
15th NATIONAL FOREST SUMMIT MEDIA RELEASE - Thursday 11th NOV. 1999
WTO FREE LOGGING ATTACK ON AUSTRALIA'S ENVIRONMENTAL SOVEREIGNTY
The Australian National Forest Summit (NFS), meeting on 6-9th November, has joined with international environment groups to reject international industry and US. Clinton Administration moves for a global free trade logging agreement. This proposal is due to be discussed at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) meeting in Seattle at the end of November.
"The NFS expressed concern that such an agreement will wind back years of progressive environmental policies in favour of a deregulated industry free from environmental controls" said summit spokesperson Tim Cadman.
"Any attempt to deregulate the international logging industry will have serious effects on Australian forests.
"The Australian NFS groups urge the WTO, Australian and US Governments to reject any measures that over-ride domestic social justice and environmental legislation.
"The NFS is appalled at WTO ignorance of current unsustainable rates of logging across Australia. At the same time, the US. government is proposing to the WTO a 9.2% increase in exported wood products from Australia. Such an increase in logging would exacerbate existing major conflict over native forest logging, reduce stream flows and water quality, and conflict with Australia's commitment to limit greenhouse emissions to an increase of 8% - this has already been exceeded.
"Like the failed Multilateral Agreement on Investment, this latest round of WTO talks will have a dramatic impact on the Australian environment, and add to the impoverishment of rural communities" concluded Mr Tim Cadman.
The NFS meeting was attended by 50 representatives of peak and local conservation groups from across Australia at East Gippsland in south eastern Australia. The full text of the summit resolution is available on request.
For comment: Tim Cadman in Deloraine, Tasmania tel. 61-3-6369 5474, mobile 0419 628 709 Damian Sullivan in Melbourne tel. 03-9419 8700
Resolution of 15th National Forest Summit of Australian Peak, regional and local forest protection groups on World Trade Organisation (WTO) free logging agreement talks in Seattle (from 30th November 1999), passed 8th November 1999
"A. Participants at the Australian National Forest Summit of conservation groups held 6-9th November 1999 reject international logging industry and US Clinton Administration moves for a global free logging agreement to be discussed at the WTO Seattle meeting(30th Nov-3rd December 1999). The groups expressed concern that such an agreement has the potential to wind back years of progressive environmental policies in favour of a deregulated industry free from environmental controls.
B. The summit urges the WTO, Australian and US Governments to reject any measures that would prohibit the following:
(a) domestic environmental and social justice legislation (including sovereign state initiatives to impose controls on genetic modification, chemical use, plantation establishment, carbon credit schemes);
(b) raw log export bans;
(c) green procurement policies;
(d) eco-labelling and forest certification;
(e) invasive species safeguards.
C. The National Forest Summit wishes to express its concern regarding:
(a) unequal access to information in global markets;
(b) lack of accounting of social and environmental costs (so called "externalities");
(c) selective removal of subsidies/non tariff measures e.g. continued government road construction for logging versus removal of environmental protections;
(d) selective application of "free" trade e.g. in favour of US lamb suppliers; and
(e) In Australia's case conservation groups are appalled at WTO ignorance of current unsustainable rates of logging while the US government proposes to the WTO a 9.2% increase in export of wood products from Australia (refer study by US Trade Representative and White House Council on Environmental Quality 1999). Such an increase in logging would (i) cause decreased stream flows and worsening water quality; and (ii) conflict with Australia's commitment to limit greenhouse emissions to an increase of 8%. Australia has already exceeded this limitation."
From FoE Sydney.
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