Gathering Place News ALERT: Final WTO Decision - Aboriginal Press Release INET- please circulate
- Gathering Place First Nations Canadian News ALERT
September 30, 2002
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Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade
Dominion<?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 />Building,207 West Hastings, Suite 714
VancouverBC, V6B 1H7, Canada<?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = O />
Tel: 604-785 5806
FINAL WTO DECISION CALLS FOR MAJOR LAND AND TENURE REFORM
(Vancouver, 30/09/2002) The Final WTO decision on the US Preliminary Determination on Softwood Lumber made reference to the brief of the Interior Alliance that has been the first ever substantive brief by indigenous peoples submitted by the WTO.
Aboriginal Peoples in British Columbia maintain their inherent right to the land and their own economies, based on that they can engage in trading with other tribal people across the Americas. Their rights have to be respected on the national and international level and recent submissions to the WTO have created the necessary space for the voices of indigenous peoples to be heard.
It is paramount that Aboriginal peoples be given a seat at the table as equal partners in future negotiations on Softwood Lumber. The US tribes have already won similar representation in international negotiations on fisheries because of the Bolt Decision. Based on the Marshall and Delgamuukw Decisions they now have to be part of the Softwood lumber negotiations.
Softwood Lumber is not only the main trade between Canada and the United States amounting to more than 10 billion dollars a year, its extraction is also mainly conducted on Indian lands and therefore Aboriginal nations in North America have to be key decision makers. Indigenous peoples across Canada have been already working together in their submissions to the WTO and Deputy Grand Chief Raymond Ferris of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) commented upon hearing the decision:
NAN works together with the peoples of the Interior of BC and wants to work with tribes across North America softwood lumber issue. Through our work on the international level we can continue to address our issues on the ground.
As BC Premier Campbell heads to WashingtonDC to initiate talks on a provincial agreement on Softwood Lumber he will be followed by representatives of indigenous and environmental groups to ensure that their interests are taken into account.
The WTO decision picks up on the key argument of indigenous peoples and environmental organizations from across Canada that stumpage constitutes the provision of a good under the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures Agreement of the WTO and duties can therefore be imposed to limit economically and environmentally unsustainable extraction of softwood lumber.
On this key argument which is the basis for any future application of duties the WTO panel found:
7.30We therefore find that the USDOC determination that the provision of stumpage constituted a financial contribution, in the form of the provision of a good or service, is not inconsistent with Article 1.1 SCM Agreement, and therefore reject Canada's claims in this respect.
Yet the WTO decision also points at remaining open questions, by finding that a fair market prices has to be determined in Canada, despite its recognition that the Canadian market is distorted. They recommend a comparison with stumpage prices on private lands, which constitute less than 5% of the supply area for softwood lumber and are therefore not representative and themselves strongly depend on stumpage price setting on Crown lands. In order to find a sustainable solution to the dispute a fair market for Softwood Lumber will have to be determined within Canada and that is where indigenous peoples have to be fully consulted and accommodated in a meaningful way, because their proprietary interests also have to be taken into account when calculating a fair market price.
Chief Manuel of the Neskonlith Band, one of the submitters of the indigenous brief, outlined the implications of the decision:
The WTO Decision increases the uncertainty for Canadian Softwood Lumber producers. They know that they are caught in the web of countervailing duty investigations and we will have them scrutinized for their failure to take Aboriginal Title into account. The Haida decision makes it clear that also companies have an obligation to consult with us and take our proprietary interests into account as we argued before the WTO. If British Columbia and Canada wants to overcome all this uncertainty they better recognize Aboriginal Title now and genuinely engage in a major land and tenure reform.
As BC Premier Campbell sets out to negotiate an agreement on Softwood Lumber in WashingtonDC, he will be followed by indigenous and environmental representatives to ensure that their interests are taken into account.
FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:
Chief Arthur Manuel, Neskonlith: 250-319 2084
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Lets Show Mr Nault that he does not speaks for First Nations People ........
We would ask every one who receives this to
Please send a letter of support to National Chief Matthew Coon Come .......and the Chiefs of the AFN
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