follow-up on Grameen Bank & “poisons”


Jan Slakov

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
From:          "Janet M. Eaton" <•••@••.•••>
To:            •••@••.•••
Date:          Thu, 10 Sep 1998 11:26:37 +0000
Subject:       (Fwd) PBS Special on Micro-Credit - One more thing !!

Further to my earlier posting below, I was reminded 
that this is probably about the Grameen Bank.

Therefore I  wanted to suggest in the viewing thereof  we 
should be mindful of  the  Grameen's deep financial troubles, their 
courtship with Monsanto -perhaps for this reason, their subsequent 
backtracking  after Vandana Shiva's letter to Yunus and other 
pressure from  Developing World interests and that Yunus is still 
desperately seeking outside finance to prop up Grameen. 

All the best,

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
From:          "Janet M. Eaton" <•••@••.•••>
To:            •••@••.•••
Date:          Thu, 10 Sep 1998 08:38:16 +0000
Subject:       PBS Special on Micro-Credit & Micro-enterprise -Tonight***

TO OUR CREDIT, a two-part documentary for public television,
will air on PBS on Thursday, September 10 and 17 at 10 PM - check local
listings as times vary.

Part I, Bootstrap Banking and the World, presents stories of women in
Bangladesh, South Africa, Bolivia and India who have received microloans
and who have established successful businesses. Worldwide, microcredit
has reached over 13 million people during the past decade. Four out of
five borrowers have been women.

Part II, Bootstrap Banking in America, profiles microentrpreneurs in New
Hampshire, North Dakota, Chicago, and Arkansas. Microenterprise
development is a strategy which is particularly focused on those whom
the booming American economy has left behind. For them, self-employment
is often the best, or only, option. Over 300 organizations in the United
States work to provide these micro-entrepreneurs with loans, training
and support. 

For Tool Kits, Viewer's Guides, preview tapes, Press Kit, contact
<<>> or
For MAI-not (un)subscription information, posting guidelines and
links to other MAI sites please see

X-POP3-Rcpt: jslakov@clan
Return-Path: •••@••.•••
Date: Mon, 14 Sep 1998 08:21:17 -0300 (ADT)
From: J H Martin Willison <•••@••.•••>
To: Jan Slakov <•••@••.•••>
Subject: corporation bites nation story (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 6 Sep 1998 17:07:23 -0700 (PDT)
From: MichaelP <•••@••.•••>
To: "unlikely.suspects":  ;
Subject: Two pieces on Nafta - environmental subverts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:          For More Information Contact:
August 24, 1998                 Michelle Sforza 202-546-4996 or
                                The Council of Canadians 613-233-2773

Canada slapped with NAFTA lawsuit against another environmental law

Canada revoked PCB Ban to Avoid NAFTA Challenge

Producer now demands compensation for lost profits while law was in effect

 Notice Comes one week after Canada pays U.S. chemical company $10
million, revokes other NAFTA-challenged green law

Canada was slapped with another NAFTA challenge just a week after the
country paid $10 million to the US-based Ethyl Corporation and revoked a
public health law to avoid a potentially costly ruling under the same
NAFTA provision. The new lawsuit, using a NAFTA provision that allows
companies to directly sue governments, was initiated by Ohio based company
S.D. Myers Inc. Canada banned the export of PCB-contaminated waste in
1995, but revoked the ban in early 1997 after U.S. firms announced they
would challenge the law under NAFTA.  Myers, a PCB treatment company,
demands an undisclosed sum for profits lost during the 15-month period of
the ban.

"Myers used NAFTA to complain about Canada's PCB export ban, so the ban
was lifted. Now they are using NAFTA to demand payment for lost profits
from when the law was in effect. NAFTA empowers a company to force our
government to have to pay for trying to protect the environment," said
Maude Barlow, volunteer national chairperson with the Council of
Canadians. "With the challenge occuring in a secret tribunal, Canadians
aren't even allowed to know what's happening. It's undemocratic and simply
outrageous and Canadians can look forward to much more of the same under
NAFTA," adds Barlow. Under NAFTA rules, Myers' complaint and any
proceedings, including negotiations with the Canadian government, are kept

Myers is using a NAFTA provision on which the controversial Multilateral
Agreement on Investment (MAI) is based. The MAI, a proposal to establish
far-reaching rights for multinational corporations, is under negotiation
at the OECD, where talks are scheduled to resume in October. The provision
empowers corporations to directly sue governments in NAFTA tribunals for
cash damages for any government action "tantamount to" an indirect
expropriation or "taking." Sometimes called "regulatory takings," this
provision allows Myers to claim its missed opportunity to profit during
the ban constitutes an illegal seizure of its assets.

Says Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch,
"NAFTA's critics warned that NAFTA would have a chilling effect on public
interest safeguards. This case proves that corporations will use NAFTA to
attack public health and environmental laws. NAFTA's "takings" provision
goes further than the property rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution,
with devastating effects on public health and the environment."

Myers' use of NAFTA to attack Canada's policy reverses the international
trend towards minimizing trade in hazardous waste. The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) imposed a total ban on PCB imports in July 1997.
"Under U.S. law, Myers can not import PCBs from Canada. This suit is about
extorting money from the Canadian government during the few months the
U.S. allowed PCBs to be imported," says Wallach.

"Chalk this case up to another NAFTA broken promise. Ethyl's and now
Myers' lawsuit show that trade agreements will be used to subvert
environmental goals; an occurrence that the U.S. government repeatedly
denied would happen under NAFTA. Yet rather than slowing down and
reassessing its trade policy, the Administration is negotiating agreements
that would apply these same anti-regulatory rules worldwide," Wallach

In addition to the MAI, the Clinton Administration is negotiating the Free
Trade area of the Americas (FTAA), a hemispheric trade pact, which will
include an investment chapter modeled on NAFTA's. Negotiations on the
investment rules for the FTAA are set to begin in September.

Margrete Strand Rangnes
MAI Project Coordinator
Public Citizen Global Trade Watch
215 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Washington DC, 20003
202-546 4996, ext. 306
202-547 7392 (fax)

To subscribe to our MAI Listserv send an e-mail to •••@••.•••, or
subscribe directly by going to our website,

ENVIRONMENT-FINANCE: Corporations Use Trade Pact to Sue Countries
   By Abid Aslam

WASHINGTON, Sep 2 (IPS) - U.S. companies are using the North American
Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to sue neighbouring countries in secret
trials that, opponents warn, will spread to other nations as wider
free-trade pacts are inked. 

   When Canada moved to protect its citizens' health from a potentially
harmful fuel additive, the chemical's U.S. manufacturer sued on the
grounds that this would obstruct free trade - and in July succeeded in
overturning Canadian law. 

   Another U.S. company, having used similar means to force Canadian
authorities to rescind a ban on chemical waste exports, now says it will 
sue to be compensated for business lost while the ban was in force. 

   A third U.S. firm awaits the outcome of its complaint, that it had
been prevented from opening a waste disposal plant because of
environmental zoning laws in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi. 

   In all three cases, corporations have invoked the North American Free 
Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which since 1994 has given them the right to
sue governments they believe are erecting unfair trade barriers. Cases
are heard - in secret, if so desired by any one party - by tribunals
whose decisions are binding. 

   Opponents warn that similar actions could be taken against countries
signing on to the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) and other
international pacts modeled on NAFTA, which was forged by the United
States, Canada, and Mexico. 

   ''Trade agreements will be used to subvert environmental goals, an
occurrence that the U.S. government repeatedly denied would happen under 
NAFTA,'' says Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen Global Trade
Watch, a Washington-based research and advocacy group. 

   ''Yet, rather than slowing down and reassessing its trade policy, the 
(U.S.) administration is negotiating agreements that would apply these
same anti-regulatory rules worldwide,'' Wallach adds. MAI negotiations
are set to resume in October and talks on investment rules for a 'Free
Trade Area of the Americas' are scheduled to begin this month. 

   In July, the Canadian government agreed to lift its prohibition
against importing and inter-province trading in the fuel additive MMT
(or 'methylcyclopentadienyl manganese tricarbonyl'). It further agreed
to pay MMT maker Ethyl Corporation some 10 million dollars and issued a
public statement that the formula posed no health risk - just as new
evidence surfaced, linking the manganese used in the octane enhancer to
nervous-system problems. 

   In return, Ethyl agreed to drop a 250-million-dollar suit alleging
that Canada had, in effect, seized its property - in this case, its
anticipated profits - by banning MMT. The U.S.-based company also
claimed that its reputation had been damaged by parliamentary debate
before the ban was imposed in April 1997. 

   A far-reaching precedent has been set, according to trade lawyer
Lawrence Herman. ''The investor-state arbitration provisions of NAFTA
seemed confined to cases where governments took assets away by direct
action and refused to compensate the investor,'' he notes in 'The
Financial Post.' Ethyl Corp.'s case, however, ''illustrates governments
are at peril if they adopt measures having the 'effect' of expropriating 
foreign-owned assets, directly or indirectly.'' 

   Canada also banned exports of industrial waste containing
carcinogenic PCBs (or 'polychlorinated biphenyls') between 1995 and
early 1997, when it abandoned its policy after U.S. firms threatened a
challenge under NAFTA. According to lawyers for S.D. Myers Inc., which
specialises in PCB treatment, the company has served notice to the
Canadian government that it intends to sue for cash damages. The firm's
argument is that the ban denied it opportunity to profit and therefore
amounted to a seizure of its assets outlawed by the regional trade pact. 

   Yet, ''under U.S. law, Myers cannot import PCBs from Canada,''
counters Wallach, who notes that the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency in July 1997 banned all imports of PCBs. ''This suit is about
extorting money from the Canadian government during the few months the
U.S. allowed PCBs to be imported.'' 

  Myers's actions show that ''NAFTA empowers a company to force our
government to have to pay for trying to protect the environment,'' says
Maude Barlow, a leading trade activist who chairs the non-governmental
Council of Canadians. The promise of secrecy to anyone requesting it,
she adds, ''is undemocratic and simply outrageous.'' 

   A three-member tribunal has yet to hand down its ruling in a January
1997 case registered with the International Centre for settlement of
Investment Disputes (ICSID) by Metalclad corporation, another U.S. waste 
disposal company, against the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi. 

   Metalclad had taken over a waste disposal plant on condition it lean
up existing problems. State authorities declared the site an cological
zone and refused to allow the firm to reopen the acility, however, after 
an environmental impact assessment evealed that it was perched atop
delicate underground streams. The company is seeking some 90 million
dollars in damages. 

   ''In a vein similar to that of Ethyl Corporation's claims, Metalclad
is claiming that the zoning law constitutes an effective seizure of the
company's property,'' says Michelle Sforza, research director at Public
   ''Without NAFTA's strong provision on expropriation, Metalclad alone
would be forced to assume the risks of investment and would have learned 
a valuable lesson about conducting the proper environmental assessments
before committing significant resources to an investment,'' Sforza notes. 
''Under the rights conferred by NAFTA ... the government of Mexico could
be forced to shoulder the isks and costs of Metalclad's investment
should the company win its suit.'' 

   Under NAFTA, disputes can be referred to ICSID, a legal ecretariat
housed at the World Bank's Washington headquarters, or the Vienna-based
U.N. Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). The tribunal
handling the Metalclad case - an American and Mexican presided over by a 
Briton - was appointed by the parties in May 1997, says a legal source.
The Ethyl case had been registered with the UN body because Canada is
not a member of ICSID. (END/IPS/aa/kb/98)

>Abid Aslam
>Inter Press Service/IPS
>1293 National Press Building
>Washington, D.C. 20045
>Tel: (202) 662-7177
>Fax: (202) 662-7164
>email: •••@••.•••


For MAI-not (un)subscription information, posting guidelines and
links to other MAI sites please see