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E-M:/ Michigan/Great Lakes at Risk from World Trade Organization?



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Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>
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Below is a news release from Public Citizen in Washington, DC which
apparently got very little if any play in Michigan/Great Lakes
region when it came out.   It concerns trade negotiations at the World
Trade Organization (WTO) that  affects water/environment related
systems and services.

This issue would affect public water and waste disposal systems at the very
least.....   an analysis as to affects on issues of Great Lakes diversion and
consumptive uses of Great Lakes water, as well as other Great Lakes
water management issues, needs to be done by somebody.

Alex Sagady
Environmental Consultant
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For Immediate Release:               Contact: Chris Slevin (202)
454-5140

March 28, 2003

Bush Administration Poised to Trade Away Michigan Laws at WTO Negotiating 
Table in Geneva

Bush Administration Plans March 31 Response to EU Demands to Open U.S. 
Water and Energy Systems, Postal Services and More to Foreign Ownership and 
Limit State Regulations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Without approval by Michigan’s legislature or Gov. 
Jennifer Granholm, the Bush administration plans to submit offers next week 
at the World Trade Organization (WTO) that could require the state to open 
public services to foreign, for-profit ownership and strictly curtail state 
regulation of banking, insurance, electricity, water systems, 
transportation, alcohol distribution and professional services including 
those provided by doctors, lawyers and accountants.

States would be required to conform their policies to global rules 
established as part of negotiations occurring under the WTO’s General 
Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The threat to numerous state laws 
and policies was revealed only weeks ago when the European Union’s (EU) 
demands of the U.S. were leaked from the secretive talks being held at the 
WTO’s Geneva headquarters.

"With the public, press and elected officials all focused on the war, the 
Bush administration is poised to effect a silent, slow-motion coup d’etat 
on democratic governance in the United States," said Lori Wallach, director 
of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. "These so-called trade negotiations 
could rewrite wide swaths of local law without the vote of state 
legislatures or the knowledge of state attorneys general or governors."

The leaked documents showed that a stunning scope of domestic policies that 
citizens expect to be set by their federal, state and local officials are 
poised to be eliminated in global negotiations pushed by giant, 
multinational service sector corporations such as Andersen, Halliburton and 
RWE/Thames Water. The policies include the privatization and deregulation 
of public energy and water utilities, postal services, higher education and 
alcohol distribution systems; the right of foreign firms to obtain U.S. 
government small business loans; and deregulation of private-sector 
industries such as insurance, banking, mutual funds and securities.

The EU also requested the elimination of Michigan’s alcohol control 
distribution system, a $712 million business in 2001. State liquor control 
generated more than $100 million for the state with nearly $30 million 
earmarked for Michigan public schools. Seventeen other states with alcohol 
control systems generate combined annual revenue of more than $1 billion 
from their state-owned wholesale and retail outlets.

"The 21st Amendment not only provided for the repeal of national 
prohibition, but it also provided each state the right to choose how 
alcohol would be regulated within the state," said Jim Sgueo, executive 
director of the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA). 
"Should the United States agree to the EU’s request that the control state 
systems be dissolved, it would undermine the Constitution of the United 
States and the states’ rights provided by it."

In addition, the EU specifically requests the elimination of Michigan laws 
related to legal services (in-state residency requirements); architectural 
services (local licensing of two-thirds of the officers, partners or 
directors of firms); energy services related to exploration and production 
(in-state requirement); construction and related engineering services 
(in-state requirement); installation and assembly work (in-state 
requirement); and mining and manufacturing (in-state requirement).

In a letter sent last month to Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, Public 
Citizen wrote, "State and local regulatory authority could be curtailed 
profoundly and the Constitutional balances of federalism irreversibly 
biased if states do not act now to protect their interests during these 
ongoing negotiations."

In the past, including when the WTO was formed, U.S. trade negotiators made 
binding commitments regarding state and local regulatory authority without 
formally consulting state legislatures and other local officials. The 
national consumer group Public Citizen and civil society groups worldwide 
have called for a moratorium on the GATS talks and a public process 
involving state and local officials.

Areas in which the EU’s demands would impact laws in all U.S. states include:

     * Professional services, including legal, accounting, auditing and 
bookkeeping, as well as architectural services, urban planning, integrated 
engineering and engineering;
     * Business services, including research and development, as well as 
real estate, rental and leasing, security services, printing and publishing;
     * Distribution services, including alcohol, tobacco and food;
     * Private higher education services;
     * Environmental services, including drinking water, wastewater and 
waste management;
     * Energy services, and electricity wholesale and retail;
     * Financial services, including insurance, banking and mutual funds;
     * Tourism and travel-related services, including concessions in 
national and state parks;
     * Transportation services;
     * Telecommunications; and
     * Construction.

In these sectors, the EU is asking the United States to remove existing 
regulation of services by eliminating state insurance chartering, lifting 
rules regulating legal practice, or removing certain banking regulations – 
and/or requesting "market access" in one or more of the four "modes" of 
GATS. These include the right to set-up an operation or commercial presence 
in the United States, the right to provide cross-border services (for 
instance, online mutual funds), the right to send service workers into the 
United States to perform a service contract made with a foreign company, 
and the right to sell services to U.S. citizens abroad. Once market access 
is granted, all levels of government – city, county, state and federal – 
are forbidden from limiting the number of service providers in these areas 
and also must provide certain treatment to foreign service providers.

For a background memo on the GATS and how it operates, and to see the EU 
GATS demands, click here.

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Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
Prospectus at:  http://www.sagady.com/sagady.pdf

PO Box 39,  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com
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Howard Dean for President  http://deanforamerica.com/
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