Wednesday 17 March 1993




Geneva 15 Mar (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The Group of 77 charged Monday the major industrial powers with procrastination over tough political decisions to bring the Uruguay Round to a successful conclusion and said that any new international trade agenda could not be considered without a prior successful conclusion of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations.

The G77 chair, Amb. T.J.B.Jonkoya of Zimbabwe was speaking at the opening meeting of the Trade and Development Board whose main agenda is on trade issues.

Jonkoya said that while developing countries were seeking participation in an integrated world economy and doing all these could to ensure a rapid and successful conclusion of the Round, there was "continuing failure* on the part of major developed countries to make the conclusion possible.

Much had been said recently about the vital necessity of successful conclusion of the Round, it was regrettable that these "pledges" at the highest political level, practically in all major trading countries, had not resulted in practical actions at genuine success of negotiations in terms of balance and comprehensiveness, the G77 spokesman said.

The Uruguay Round was now in another "pause", and there was no guarantee that the extension of fast-track authority in the United States would bring the Round to a successful close.

Developing countries had adopted very constructive positions throughout the Round and had contributed substantially to its success. They had made "substantial concessions" in all parts of the DFA and in addition they alone by substantial national trade policy reforms had become a primary engine for trade liberalization and advocates of a strengthened rule-based international trading system. 

However, they had not received any credit or recognition for this in the Round, while the deteriorating trading environment and emerging conflicts among the major entities affected them in a greater degree.

As indicated by them on several occasions, the developing countries were willing to continue negotiations on the basis of the DFA, provided this was supplemented by a comprehensive package of commitments in the area of market access -- a condition still to be fulfilled.

The developing countries, the G77 spokesman added, would also continue to insist that any bilateral, plurilateral or multilateral negotiations in the context of the Uruguay round be conducted in a "transparent manner" as stipulated in the Punta del Este declaration and with observance of all negotiating objectives and principles governing the negotiations.

The Group of 77, Jonkoya continued, was also concerned that while the major powers were procrastinating in taking the tough political decisions necessary to conclude the Round, they were at the same time advancing at a high political level themes for the next Round.

While Jonkoya did not spell these out, recent statements show that the EC wants socalled social contract issues to be on the trade agenda while in the US there is talk of "trade-related" labour rights and environment issues being negotiated for "fair trade".

"It is our deep conviction that effective consideration of a new international trade agenda cannot be conducted without a prior successful conclusion of the Uruguay Round as, in particular, the DFA sets further negotiating bases for many areas. In this context, UNCTAD's consensus-building machinery should be fully mobilised to address the 'Trade agenda for the 1990s', particularly to enable developing countries to ensure that their interests are fully reflected in the theme for any future multilateral trade negotiations.

On the situation of the LDCs, their actions in implementing the commitments undertaken at the 1990s Paris UN Conference on LDCs and the retrogression in ODA flows to them, Jonkoya said: "the development partnership (undertaken at Paris) requires that development partners should redouble their efforts to fully and effectively implement their commitments contained in the Programme of Action". He also called for urgent measures to reduce the debt stock and debt servicing burdens of LDCs including those due to multilateral financial institutions.

While much was said and written about during the Cold war about the positive effects that disarmament would produce on economic growth and development, the G77 spokesman noted that experience of the last few years had shown that these hopes and expectations had not been realized. Structural adjustment and conversion of military capacities to civilian use was now seen as an extremely difficult and painful process fraught with serious economic, social and political costs and risks.

In this area, in the G77 view UNCTAD, within its mandate, could contribute to international efforts and cooperation at making disarmament supportive of economic growth and development, minimizing costs and maximising benefits involved, particularly for trade and development related aspects of structural adjustment and conversion. 

In other comments, Jakob Esper Larsen of Denmark, speaking for the EC member-countries, said that trade and economic policy reforms enhanced mobilization of domestic resources and provided opportunities for receiving foreign direct investment which was intimately linked to technology transfer. Trade was a major economic source and a successful conclusion of the Uruguay Round was of crucial importance to all the developing countries.

The EC, he added, was encouraged by indications that all participants were now ready to enter into "forward-looking contacts"

J.E.Buckley of Australia said that trade liberalization and structural reforms so courageously undertaken by many developing countries could not be a "one-way street" and could only be sustained if others maintained open markets or opened their markets on a global basis.