Mar 15, 1993




Geneva Mar 12 (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- Thirty-seven countries participating in the Uruguay Round have addressed a joint appeal to the Heads of United States, European Community and Japan asking them to give the "highest priority" to efforts to bring the Uruguay Round trade negotiations to an "early and successful conclusion". 

The appeal on behalf of the 37 countries has been sent by the Argentine President, Carlos Saul Menem to US President Bill Clinton, EC Commission President Jacques Delors, EC Council of Ministers President Paul Nyrup Rasmussen of Denmark, and Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa.

It was made public here by the Argentine Permanent Representative, Archibald Lanos.

The signatories to the appeal included both industrialized and developing countries from all continents and of varying tendencies and levels of development. The list also had some significant omissions.

The appeal said that while the negotiations have reached a point where the basis for final results have been prepared, to complete the Round detailed package of market access commitments in goods and services had to be settled and the "few remaining differences" relating to the Draft Final Act had to be resolved.

"Unless these steps are tackled urgently, and unless changes in the Draft Final Act are kept to the absolute minimum, the prospects of a successful conclusion will be seriously jeopardised."

Earlier, the appeal said the world leaders could not but be concerned over the poor health of the world economy and unemployment and mounting protectionist pressures. A successful conclusion to the Round could do much to help reverse these trends and, by further reduction of trade barriers and strengthening and extending coverage of multilateral disciplines it would provide a much needed boost to business confidence which was vital for investment and growth of international trade.

The future of the Round and of the multilateral trading system, the signatory countries said, rested in the hands of the major economies and in this regard welcomed the Washington announcement that the US Congress would be asked to renew the administration's fast track authority.

Asked about the length of the fast-track authority, Lanos said that it should be such as to enable the negotiations to be completed before the end of the year.

"It is vital that the time-frame envisaged for such a renewal reflect the urgent need to conclude the negotiations on the basis of the objectives set down at Punta del Este," the appeal added.

In announcing the initiative and making public the appeal, Argentina's Permanent Representative, Archibald Lanos explained to newsmen that this came out of a meeting between GATT Director- General Arthur Dunkel and President Menem at the Davos symposium in February.

Signatories were: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Cyprus, El Salvador, the Philippines, Finland, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Iceland, Malaysia, Norway, New Zealand, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Czech republic, Slovak Republic, Dominican Republic, Romania, Senegal, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Prominent among those who did not sign were Brazil, Egypt, India, Mexico, Morocco and Nigeria.

Lanos explained that some of those who did not sign the appeal had wanted some changes or particular concerns in sectors to be reflected, while others wanted to keep it at a general, systemic level.

Asked about the view of the 37 on the purported US view that there should be negotiations now on the changes to the Draft Final Act and the "core concerns" of the US to enable the administration to move Congress for the fast-track authority, Lanos said that there were some who believed the negotiations should take place before fast-track authority while others wanted negotiations only after the US fast-track authority.

In the Dunkel consultations and at an informal dinner on 6 March, the US had apparently sought indications of how far its 'core concerns' for changes in the DFA would be met the administration to get the fast-track authority from the Congress. Dunkel himself would appear to have pressed both the US and the others, including Japan etc, to restart the negotiating process immediately. However, this idea did not fly.

Several of the participants in the consultations would appear to have made clear while they could undertake the motions of negotiations, no results could come until the fast-track authority was there and it was clear that the Congress was not trying to inject new issues and that changes in US legislation required by the agreements would be made and the history of the General Agreement and its provisional application, saving the existing US laws, would not be repeated.

While US officials seemed to feel that no new issues would be injected in any fast-track authority, they were not reassuring on carrying out the necessary changes to the US law, just like other signatories would need to in accepting the accords.

Asked to explain the call for changes in the text to be kept to the "absolute minimum", Lanos noted that some of the texts included in the Dunkel text were negotiated and finished, and were not part of the Dunkel 'arbitrated texts'. But some countries now wanted to open up these texts for changes and introduce amendments to the negotiated texts. "This would make negotiations an endless process," he said.

The interests of the developing countries in concluding the Round, Lanos said, was in ensuring access to their exports and reinforce the multilateral rules.