Mar 11, 1991


GENEVA, MARCH 8 (TWN) The UNCTAD Trade and Development Board begins a two-week second part of the 37th session where it is expected to decide on the venue of the Eighth session of the Conference.

Uruguay had originally offered to host the Conference and on this basis the UN General Assembly had convened the Conference to meet in September/October at Punta del Este. But in January this year Uruguay had advised that it would not be possible for it to host the Conference and the search for a new venue in the Latin American region has been continuing since then.

According to G77 sources discussions are still going on with Colombia for hosting the Conference at Cartagena.

The Board has to make a new recommendation to enable the General Assembly to act upon it at its resumed 45th session in April.

Other matters on the agenda of the Board include issues of protectionism and structural adjustment and, along with it, the "outcome of the Uruguay Round on developments and issues of particular concern to the developing countries".

The Uruguay Round was put on the agenda, at the instance of the Group of 77 and in accordance with UNCTAD-VII Final Act, when the Industrialised Countries thought by the time of the Board discussions in March, they would have wrapped up the Round at Brussels and the discussions would be academic and of little consequence.

With the collapse of the Brussels meeting and the current uncertainties over the "re-started" negotiations, none of the ICs appear to be ready to engage in any dialogue or discussions on the issue at the Board.

But the Group of 77 is expected to present its own views, more so in the light of the fact that the format of the consultations held at the GATT by the Director-General, and the basis on which the negotiations have been "re-started", have been informal and non-transparent, with little scope for Third World countries to express concerns without being accused of responsibility for winding up the negotiations without any outcome.

The re-started negotiations have no deadlines, though the European Community still appears to be trying to conclude the Round, with "scaled down" ambitions (in agriculture and other areas where it has to "give") but with substantial results in other areas including in the new areas.

The Board meeting coming as it does after the end of hostilities in the Gulf War, would also provide an opportunity for the secretariat to present a preliminary view of the consequences to the Third World and prospects in the short to medium term.