7:50 AM Jun 4, 1993


Geneva 4 June (TWN) -- The Chairman of the GATT CPs, Amb Balkrishna Zutshi of India, was due to hold further informal consultations with some of the key countries over the choice of a successor to Arthur Dunkel as Director-General of GATT, according to GATT sources.

Sources said that consultations among the interested parties have been continuing, with so far (as of Friday midafternoon) none of the two Latin American candidates 'withdrawing' their candidature, though the EC sponsored Peter Sutherland appears to be gathering more support among developing countries. There was talk among Latin American sources that Julio Lacarte's candidature would be kept to the end. But whether this means it would be withdrawn at the Special Session or something else is expected by then is not clear either.

According to other GATT sources, Japan too is keeping its counsel and would not take any decision till the end.

Sutherland has been in Geneva, "campaigning", as one Third World diplomat put it.

While a number of developing country ambassadors met him Thursday at the EC mission in response to an informal get-together organized by the Commission, the Latin American delegates kept away.

Several of those who attended the meeting and reception Thursday said they were favourably impressed and that Sutherland had made clear he had attached no 'conditions' (about emoluments and conditions being equated to those in the Bretton Woods institutions).

However, to give some steam to those in the Latin American group critical of the process and its implications for the Uruguay Round negotiations, came a report in Friday's Financial Times about the Paris OECD ministerial discussions on trade and other issues, preparatory to the Tokyo G-7 summit.

In reporting on the 'market access' negotiations and talks between the US and EC, and being extended to the other two members of the Quad (Canada and Japan) and how to extend it to the other participants in the negotiations, the FT said the Quad members had invited Arthur Dunkel (who is demitting office at end of June) to brief them on "how a G7 agreement could be broadened to embrace all 111 GATT members."

The report then added: "also present in Paris was Peter Sutherland, who is expected to succeed Dunkel at the end of this month and who would play a critical part in managing multilateral negotiations in the wake of the G7 summit".

At Wednesday's meeting of the informal developing country group, some of the ambassadors of countries who are known to be supportive of Sutherland, nevertheless expressed their concerns over the way the candidate had been chosen and a consensus being created in his favour by the two majors, and what it would imply in terms of the two reaching accords and then forcing it on others (through the GATT DG and his green room processes) at the very end.

Other questions troubling several other cps -- from countries who have neither a candidate nor hope to get one to a second or third post in the GATT secretariat -- has been what all this implies in terms of Sutherland's ability or willingness to be 'independent' and see the problems of developing countries (problems different from those of Ireland which may be a 'poor' country but member of the EC.

There are no easy answers, and only a demonstration (after selection) by Sutherland that he would not be one to "knock the heads of the US and EC to promote an agreement" (as the EC officials described as among the reasons for choosing him) and then tell the developing world they now had to accept it.