8:55 AM Apr 23, 1993


Geneva 23 April (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The US-EC's candidate to succeed GATT Director-General Arthur Dunkel, Peter Sutherland, has taken himself out of the race, and the field is now wide open, according to GATT sources.

While nothing is being said about the 'personal' reasons that have now cropped up, some being mentioned in speculation clearly would have figured in his calculations before he allowed his name to be put forward.

Sutherland, after leaving the EC Commission, has been heading a aircraft leasing company where his earnings are probably about million dollars, while that of the GATT Director-General would be about 200,000 dollars.

At a meeting of the informal group of developing countries in the GATT Friday morning, the Chairman of the GATT Contracting Parties, Amb. Balkrishan Zutshi of India who is conducting consultations on a successor to Dunkel advised the informal group that Sutherland's name is no longer in the picture. He reportedly asked the members of the group, as he has other groups, to come up with names or nominees.

Zutshi also reportedly called for delinking the choice of a successor from the question of conclusion of the Uruguay Round and the general view that the top management in the GATT should be strengthened by having a Director-General to be assisted by three deputies.

The need for 'transparency' in the consultation and selection process was reportedly stressed by participants at the meeting, with several expressing the view that the present incumbent Arthur Dunkel should be continued.

Zutshi is however reported to have pointed out that Dunkel had repeatedly said he did not want to continue, but that he would not be walking out on 30 June but stay for a while to provide continuity and help his successor.

Neither the EC nor the US had ever formally proposed Sutherland to succeed Dunkel. However, his name has been informally put forward and it was also reported that US Trade Representative Micky Kantor and EC Commissioner dealing with GATT, Leon Brittan had agreed on this name.

However, according to GATT sources, the Europeans advised the Chairman of the GATT Contracting Parties, Amb. Balkrishna Zutshi of India, that for "personal reasons" Sutherland has taken his name out of consideration and that he is no longer available.

This was reportedly conveyed Thursday evening to Zutshi with some GATT diplomats.

Earlier, in the day, at a meeting of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries (GRULA) in the GATT, Zutshi had merely advised them that no names had been conveyed to him 'formally'.

Several members of the Grula however referred to western media reports about Sutherland's candidacy being pushed by the US and EC informally and their view that he should be appointed for the completion of the Uruguay Round and his own reported condition that he would take up the post only on the basis that the Round would be concluded and result in creation of the Multilateral Trade Organization which he could head, and that in the meanwhile he would take up the job of GATT head for six or nine months.

The view that emerged at the morning Grula meeting was that any candidate to succeed Dunkel should be appointed for a two-year term renewable for another two years, and that candidates fitting this bill should be considered. Some felt that if necessary Dunkel himself should be given another year's term in the hope that the Round would be concluded.

Ever since Sutherland's candidacy and conditions were being promoted, in the pro-GATT western media, there has been some criticism of it among Third World participants, both on the type of 'conditions' that was being purportedly put forward and the US-EC effort to manipulate the whole process.

The Grula group is meeting Friday afternoon to consider whether they should put forward any candidature, though one or two in the group want Dunkel's term to be extended.