Global Trade

U.S. government officials and business leaders were supportive but wary of taking sides in Google Inc.'s battle with China, a sign of the delicate tensions between the growing superpower and the West. Google has threatened to bolt from China over censorship and alleged cyber spying.
About 50 Cofan Indians, some holding handkerchiefs over their faces to fend off an acrid chemical stench, gathered around two contaminated open pits they say were left behind and never adequately cleaned up by the former Texaco Corp.
Thales, the French aerospace company, is hoping to develop a weaponized version of the Watchkeeper drone to sell to Poland. This is despite a series of software glitches and accidents that resulted in many of the first 54 Watchkeepers that were delivered to the UK to be sitting idle.
The European Commission defended its current practices on screening genetically altered foods in the wake of a report from the World Trade Organization that criticized its past action in restricting the entry of modified products into the European Union.
Wal-Mart, which last year opened a store near the ancient Teotihuacan pyramids of Mexico despite loud protests from local activists and small businesses, is now seeking a repeat of its earlier victory, this time in two heavily indigenous areas: in Pátzcuaro in the state of Michoacán and Juchitán, in the southern state of Oaxaca. But local opponents are set for a pitched battle.
Trade ministers gather in Tokyo on Friday for a three-day meeting to try to step up the pace of flagging global trade talks, beset by failed deadlines and a lack of progress. Only 25 of the 145 members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have been invited to send ministers to the February 14-16 "mini-ministerial". Their task: to thrash out ideas for giving a boost to negotiations, mainly on greater market access in services, industrial goods and the traditionally-thorniest subject of agriculture.
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has called on business to work harder on environmental and social issues.
Despite a recession that knocked down global arms sales last year, the United States expanded its role as the world's leading weapons supplier, increasing its share to more than two-thirds of all foreign armaments deals, according to a new Congressional study.
While City investors have begun to question the role of companies such as BP and Shell in the tar sands business, a new report by Greenpeace claims British motorists are unwitting users of diesel and petrol derived from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada. The carbon-heavy production methods involved make tar sands extraction particularly damaging to the environment.
Natural Fruit, one of Thailand's largest pineapple processors, has sued Andy Hall, a British researcher, over a report that he worked on for Finnwatch on labor abuses in the industry. Hall faces some seven years in jail and $10 million in fines.