The Society of the Plastics Industry of Canada's promised transformation into a more regionally sensitive group is welcome wherever plastics firms are scattered thinly in Canada. The ``old'' SPI Canada represented the far-flung regions like a bottom-line-oriented corporation would, using resources sparingly in areas where ``customers'' were few. Lots of firms saw little reason to join an association that sent its ``salesmen'' through their neck of the woods about once a year.
One official suggests the new association will have to behave more like a nonprofit group by increasing representation in areas where there may be no obvious economic reason.
Officials of the new association also need to mend bridges with members who quit, or nearly quit, for various other reasons - especially issues of government funding. SPI Canada's former leadership focused a lot of effort on committing governments to invest in industry programs. Some members didn't want government assistance, fearing it could cause a backlash in U.S. trade. Occasionally a program even gave a competitive edge to one or more companies, which led to some nasty internecine battles.
Officials of Canada's imminent new plastics organization have a tough order to fill and by most accounts, seem to be going about it smartly, by giving it the strength to reach out to distant members and a stronger, unified voice.
China still flouts rules
A year ago, the Clinton Administration threatened to impose trade sanctions against China if it didn't comply with previously negotiated copyright agreements.
The dispute eventually was smoothed over, only to surface again recently as U.S. companies have complained angrily to American trade officials that there is little evidence the Chinese are complying with the intellectual rights agreement.
Mickey Kantor, the U.S. trade representative, has warned China that its failure to abide by the agreements it earlier endorsed is a significant obstacle to the acceptance of China in the World Trade Organization. Given China's demonstrably poor human rights record, the country's unwillingness to protect the property rights of Western interests is not surprising. The industry - and income - produced by the pirating of software and compact discs does not cause government functionaries in Beijing to endure criticism from their superiors.
The Chinese government exercises extraordinary control over 1 billion people, down to managing family size with a policy of one child per couple. It could, if it so elected, easily shut down the pirate factories and enforce the copyright agreements. China's leaders haven't seriously sought to do so because piracy pays terrifically well.
That kind of attitude will not lend support to those in Washington who would renew China's ``most favored nation'' trade status.