Jan 29, 1993



Geneva Jan 8 (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- Uruguay Round negotiations, officially resumed on 4 January after the year-end holiday break, is just marking time and will resume the mid- January target for concluding it set in December by the US and the EC, Third World sources said this week.

The Trade Negotiations Committee is due to meet on January 15 to review the situation.

The mid-January target was set at the US-EC summit meeting in Washington between George Bush, the British Prime Minister John Major who was then holding the EC Presidency and the EC Commission President Jacques Delors.

Since then, Bush at his meeting with French President Francois Mitterand in Paris had touched upon the GATT talks, but there was no progress and probably some hardening, European sources said.

Both the US and EC trade negotiators have reportedly been in contact with each other since then, but without any appreciable progress, according to Uruguay Round participants.

The new EC Commissioner for the GATT negotiations, Leon Brittan is reported to have been in touch with the Bush administration's Trade Representative Carla Hills and also with the transition team.

Though both sides have made public statements about pushing ahead to conclude the negotiations quickly, few negotiators in Geneva expect any movement until after the new President and his team take over in Washington on 20 January and make their own assessments and stake out their positions.

The few limited comments and remarks by the Clinton team give little hope of any quick deal.

Clinton's Commerce Secretary designate in Congressional hearings, for example, has insisted on the US right to use S. 301 of the trade law to pry open foreign markets and enable US enterprises to trigger anti-dumping actions, which are now a mere code word for selective protection.

Before the Xmas break, the US side had put forward informally, the changes it would seek in the rules on anti-dumping which would legitimise all US practices and actions and place them beyond GATT challenge.

Both the US and EC have not only been using anti-dumping rules against each other, but against competition from Japan, the NICs and the east Europeans.

Many of the smaller trading partners, both from the industrial and developing world, have repeatedly insisted that one of their major concerns would be to ensure that the rules on anti-dumping are not weakened and allowed to become a protective instrument of the major trading partners.

At an informal meeting of the Latin American group this week, the negotiators appeared to have reached the conclusion that the mid- January target was not possible to achieve.

The agricultural negotiators were due Friday to hold a meeting on market access, but the meeting was expected mainly to seek clarifications of the US-EC Blair House accord (of November 1992), one of the participants said Friday.

The US was due this week to table its own 'offers' on industrial products in response to EC's latest offer.

Some participants said both offers were unsatisfactory and would not achieve the Montreal mid-term targets.