Jan 29, 1993



Geneva 19 Jan (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The Uruguay Round Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC), after its stock-taking exercise Tuesday, is expected to effectively put the negotiating process in suspense until the new Clinton administration in Washington takes over, sorts its internal organization and sends a clear signal of its serious intention to resume and conclude the negotiations.

The Dunkel process of consultations among a group of negotiators from some 20 countries which has been looking at the various proposals for changes in the Dunkel Text of the Draft Final Act ended their current phase of the work on Friday.

Earlier last week, the US and EC also suspended their bilateral talks on market access negotiations, unable to bridge the differences in their approaches.

Their talks on services issues were also similarly called off for the present.

Prior to the scheduled TNC meeting on Tuesday, the GATT Director- General and Chairman of the TNC, Arthur Dunkel held a 'green room' consultations involving a wider group of countries than the smaller group that has been meeting under his chairmanship outside the GATT.

Some of the participants in the consutlations would appeared to have suggested that in calling a temporary halt, the TNC should also call for resumption in the first or second week of February.

"If the negotiations are not resumed by then, we can bid goodbye to the Round," one diplomat suggested before the consultations began.

However, the broader view in the consultations would appear to have been that no dates or deadlines could be now set and everything would depend on how Washington and the new administration reacts.

The beginning of March or some weeks beyond that is a realistic working hypothesis for the conclusion of the Round, EC senior officials said Tuesday, suggesting that the negotiations could be resumed in two to three weeks after a clear signal from the new administration in Washington.

The Community appears to feel that such a signal could come by the continuance of the key negotiators on the US side -- the chief career official Warren Lavorel, the US Ambassador in Geneva Rufus Yerxa (in the same or another post in the trade negotiating area) and perhaps the deputy US Trade Representative Julian Katz, all of whom could provide continuity and pick up the threads quickly.

However, several Third World diplomats said that this would not be a signal needed. The new administration they said would have to organise itself, make an assessment, and come out with a clear indication of what it wants and looks for.

Merely resuming the negotiations or suggesting that the talks could be wound up within the current fast-track deadline would not be serious, one negotiator suggested, referring to the range of issues dividing key participants and yet to be negotiated and settled.

It would be far more serious if the administration came around to the view that it should settle the round, get a six-month new fast track authority, and come quickly to Geneva to resume negotiations and end it, the source said.