5:42 AM Sep 20, 1994
G77 FOR MORE ACTION-ORIENTED ASSESSMENTGeneva 19 Sep (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The Group of 77 and China, while recognizing the quality of UNCTAD's initial assessment of the outcome of the Uruguay Round, complained Monday that it had not given enough attention to concerns and interests of developing countries. In the general statement at the 40th session of the Trade and Development, the G77 and China said the initial assessment should be further refined and focus on a more action-oriented assessment and proposals for future initiatives. The secretariat should also identify the problems and opportunities for developing countries including in agriculture and the textiles and clothing sector. The views of the Group of 77 and China, were presented in a general statement by Amb. Adriano Alfredo Teixeira Parreira of Angola, Chairman of the Group. Earlier in a reference to the macro-economic issues of the world economy, the Angolan ambassador viewed the TDR-94 as an important contribution to the debate on major issues confronting the Third World countries as a result of rapidly evolving changes taking place at the global level. For the developing world as a whole, output would grow by no more than four percent in 1994, while disparities among the region would remain large. In some of these countries per capita incomes continued to fall, despite implementation of structural adjustment programmes and has been particularly affected by the weakness experienced by primary commodity prices. Despite efforts to increase export volumes, imports have had to be cut by these countries. While there appears to be a sign of recovery of commodity prices from their low of the early 1990s, without an acceleration of growth in the industrialized world "this recovery is unlikely to be sustained" Availability of external finance is largely insufficient for the developing countries, most of whom remained under intense financial pressure. Though some of them have experienced a surge of capital inflows, the question how long these could be sustained remained. In order to solve the problem of global demand deficiency, and recognizing the interdependence of the economies of both the developed and developing countries, the recovery in the industrial world must be strengthened and measures had to be taken to increase the flow of financial resources to the developing world. The secretariat's study on environment and sustainable development issues pointed to the importance of improved transparency and information on product standards as well as the provision of technical and other forms of assistance in enabling developing countries to comply with these standards. The introduction of these standards, as the UNCTAD study notes, might not always be justifiable on scientific grounds and when these are invoked on the "precautionary principle", they should be treated with caution. The emerging product regulations and standards, the G77 Chair said, should be compatible with multilateral trade agreements. As the study rightly argues, while product policy management policies are essential for protection of the environment, "there is little justification for applying these standards to imported products, since almost all environmental problems caused by process production methods are local and not transmitted through the product. Also, policies seeking to address PPMs tend to be based on a country's own particular social, cultural and development goals which might be inappropriate for other countries. "Positive measures such as financial assistance, transfer of technologies, sustainable production and fair prices for commodities will better enable developing countries to improve their standards and better meet global environmental objectives." The G77 and China, Amb. Teixeira Parriera said, recognized the quality of the UNCTAD secretariat's initial assessment of the Uruguay round. "Nevertheless," he added, "we have noted that not enough attention was given to the interests and concerns of developing countries, as required by the mandate stated in paragraph 144 of the Cartagena Commitment. To mention a few examples, the impact that the intensified and extended disciplines contained in the WTO have on the development policies of the developing countries is mentioned only briefly on pages 158 and 159. "In our opinion, this is not adequate. The measures we devise to promote our trade and development must conform to the obligations and commitments we have accepted. While the Uruguay Round results provide developing countries with new trade opportunities, their multilateral trade obligations have increased dramatically as well. We consider that the Board should focus on ways and means for developing countries to make full use of these new trade opportunities and to apply differential and more favourable measures to mitigate the burden of the obligations resulting from the Round. The special provisions for LDCs as contained in the Uruguay Round agreement and Ministerial decisions should be concretised. In additional to enhanced market access, these countries will need support for product diversification, infrastructure, institution building and human resources development." Referring to the finding of the TDR that MFN tariff rates in the principal markets for export products of particular interest to the developing world still exceeded the average, Teixeira Parreira said that many developing countries considered that their major contribution to the negotiations in terms of tariff bindings and reductions and the acceptance of more stringent disciplines might not have been reciprocated by the industrialized world. Remedial action in the form of GSP improvements would be appropriated and work should be undertaken to precisely identify the tariff lines concerned, he said. Also in terms of the 1995 policy review on the GSP, the Group of 77 and China would reiterate the principles of general, non-reciprocal and non-discriminatory preferences. All products should be included in the new GSP schemes and preference-giving countries should implement immediately in their schemes those tariffs that had not been reduced to zero during the Round. The GSP should also be revitalized, introducing new elements such as preferential treatment for trade in services and regarding foreign direct investment. In a separate statement on behalf of the LDCs, Amb. Syed Jamaluddin of Bangladesh referred to the global demand deficiency issue raised by the TDR, and suggested that increased flow of resources, particularly ODA to developing countries, could contribute to generate demand and thereby help reduce unemployment world wide. On the trade-environment question, Jamaluddin stressed that different countries had different natural resource endowments, levels of pollution, system of production, labour and capital intensities and levels of development. "Therefore we should not advocate a uniform approach to solving environmental problems not prescribe environmental policies without being sure that such policies have no negative impact. Such policies must be multilaterally agreed. "The eco-labelling measures being implemented unilaterally by some developed countries may affect the exports of developing countries. Such measures must be compatible with multilateral trade agreements. Environmental measures should not be carried out in a manner by which the strong and the rich pass the burden on to the weak and the poor. What is required is an objective study of all products, services and process, exported by both the developed and developing countries and the establishment of a framework for taking measures in a fair and equitable manner." Referring to the outcome of the Uruguay Round, the Bangladesh ambassador said that in accepting the package, the LDCs had assumed important commitments relative to their level of development. The special provisions on LDCs contained in the Marrakesh Ministerial decision need to be translated into concrete action and UNCTAD should help concretize such actions. Also, to avail for the enhanced trading opportunities, LDCs would need external finance for product diversification, infrastructure, institution building and human resource development.