Global Trade

The Ugandan parliament will soon have a hearing on the draft Plant Variety Protection Bill, approved by the cabinet early last year. According to an inside government source, seeds companies including Monsanto have been lobbying for such intellectual property protection.
TIJUANA -- For two weeks, Tijuana has teetered on the brink of official lawlessness, as city and state police continue to defy Baja California's legal system. Raul Ramirez, member of the Baja California Academy of Human Rights, warned last week that ''the state is in danger of violating the Constitution and the Federal Labor Law... as it succumbs to the temptation to use force.''
Multinationals like Benetton have tried to distance themselves from Rana Plaza, a Bangladeshi building housing five clothing factories, that collapsed last week killing over 400. Activists argue that change will only come when workers get more political support to challenge them.
West African cotton farmers are among those hardest hit by government subsidized corporate agriculture. This week in Hong Kong, trade ministers from the 148 members of the World Trade Organization meet to discusss this and other global free trade issues.
The failure of the WTO Ministerial meeting in Seattle was a historic watershed, in more than one way. Firstly, it has demonstrated that globalisation is not an inevitable phenomena which must be accepted at all costs but a political project which can be responded to politically.
Here is a fact sheet about corporate-led globalization... fifty-one of the world's top 100 economies are corporations.
After meeting with managers of the Chinese operations of Google on Thursday to warn them, the Chinese government disabled some search functions on the Chinese-language Web site of Google on Friday. Officials alleged the site was linking too often to pornographic and vulgar content.
Texaco, the American oil company that Chevron acquired in 2001, once poured oil waste into pits used decades ago for drilling wells in Ecuador's northeastern jungle. Texaco's roughnecks are long gone, but black gunk from the pits seeps to the topsoil here and in dozens of other spots. These days the only Chevron employees who visit the former oil fields do so escorted by bodyguards toting guns. They represent one side in a bitter fight that is developing into the world's largest environmental lawsuit, with $27 billion in potential damages.
A federal grand jury in Houston has charged a former executive of a Willbros Group subsidiary with conspiring to bribe Nigerian officials as part of an alleged scheme to win a major natural gas pipeline contract.
Nissan Motor Co. Monday announced plans to slash more than 20,000 jobs world-wide, shift production out of Japan and seek government assistance from Japan, the U.S. and elsewhere, part of a broad new effort by the Japanese car maker to weather the economic downturn.