International investors have a private court of appeal even in criminal matters - "A parallel legal universe, open only to corporations and largely invisible to everyone else, helps executives convicted of crimes escape punishment. [ISDS] operates unconstrained by precedent or any significant public oversight, often keeping its proceedings and sometimes even its decisions secret." (via) [more inside]
Hu Jintao, premier of China, is in the middle of his first state visit to the US, whose pomp and circumstance reflects China's growing economic stature and role in world affairs. Due to the linguistic and political differences between the US and China, few Americans know very much about Hu. Many of them will have had their first real look at him during an extended and surprisngly candid joint press conference held with President Obama and lasting well over an hour - something which never happens in China. Fears (or possibly hopes) of a trade war between the US and China a year ago have faded, and instead a trade deal involving $45 billion of American exports was announced, to mixed reactions. He was received less kindly by Congress, whose members expressed disquiet about everything from trade deficits to human rights and whose leaders declined to discuss matters over dinner - perhaps because they did not wish to be lost in the high-powered crowd of attendees. [more inside]
""You can't forget there are people listening when you say you are going to do things, and I try not to overpromise."
This past March, former US President Bill Clinton acknowledged to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that tariff policies his administration championed in the mid-1990's helped destroy Haiti's rice production and contributed to the impoverished nation's inability to feed itself. But while most of the world has stopped paying attention to Haiti's woes, Mr. Clinton has become the de facto leader of the effort to rebuild it after the catastrophic earthquake this past January. Will his influence be enough? Reports from the UN Office of the Special Envoy to Haiti indicate that the reconstruction progress has been slow. [more inside]
Yummy avocados. So delicious...so contentious...and at times...so expensive. Why have prices in the U.S., particularly California, been so high? And why have they dropped? Weather and a bad crop? Or are the causes often more insidious? A one act play sums up one perspective on the situation. [more inside]
CAFTA passed in House Despite unions, NGOs, and even some hispanic organizations, CAFTA was passed by the House tonight, most likely soon to be followed by the Senate and signed by Bush. Is this a positive move, or will this "send jobs overseas"?
A game of double bluff The UK and EU are keeping the poorer nations exactly where they want them: beholden to their patrons. (George Monbiot in the Guardian.) See also Oxfam's critique of the Doha round of WTO talks.
The World Trade Organization ruled today that the steel tariffs imposed by President Bush last year were illegal. Today's ruling, which was not a surprise, was the second major loss for the United States at the W.T.O. in the last year. The trade panel awarded Europe the right to impose $4 billion worth of trade sanctions against the United States for giving tax breaks to American exporters through foreign sales corporations. Well, at least we are winnig the war...