Feb 23, 1989


GENEVA, FEBRUARY 21 (IFDA) The Latin American members of the Cairns Group of agricultural exporting countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay) are meeting in Buenos Aires on March 14-15, it was learnt here.

At the Montreal mid-term Ministerial review meeting in December 1988 of the Uruguay round, when the U.S. and EEC failed to resolve their differences over agriculture but decided to put it aside while pressing with other issues to reach a package of accords, the Latin American Cairns members blocked further negotiations and decisions.

This resulted in putting the results achieved at Montreal "on hold", referring four deadlocked issues including agriculture back to Geneva for solutions through consultations by Arthur Dunkel, and for the overall package to be reviewed at a TNC meeting in the first week of April.

The Buenos Aires meeting of the Latin Cairns Group members will be ahead of the meeting of the Cairns Group as a whole, fixed for March 17-19 at Waipengi in New Zealand.

The second round of consultations by GATT Director-General Arthur Dunkel on agriculture issues in the Uruguay round are set for the week of March 6, probably on March seven or eight.

The GATT Council is meeting on March 6 afternoon and perhaps morning of March 7.

The U.S. and EEC are continuing their bilateral talks to unblock the deadlock on agriculture, and thus the Uruguay rounds processes.

However, some of the Latin Cairns members are not sure that the U.S. and EEC will reach an understanding satisfactory to themselves but not to the Latins, particularly in terms of "freezing" export subsidies and cutting them back as a short term measure.

The Latin members are particularly affected by the U.S.-EEC efforts to promote their exports of wheat and wheat flower as well as corn and Soya, and capture each other's export markets through resort to subsidies - a practice that the budget and debt strapped Latins are unable to compete with.

While on the one side both the U.S. and EEC have been talking of need for understanding and avoiding trade conflicts over agriculture, the bush administration according to reports received here has actually sought one billion dollars of budgetary provision for agricultural export subsidies. This hardly squares with the U.S. stance recently of willingness to consider short-term measures.

Latin American Cairns members are expected to confer among themselves and assess the prospects, both in terms of the full cairns group meeting and the subsequent round of final consultations.

Dunkel is expected to hold a final round of consultations on all four deadlocked issues (textiles, safeguards, agriculture and trade-related intellectual property rights) in the week of March 21, just before the easter holidays.