Nov 5, 1982




Geneva Nov 3 (IPS/by Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- After a brief session Wednesday morning for preparation of a ministerial declaration to come out of the Nov 24-26 meeting, the GATT Council suspended its session while informal negotiations are pursued.


The Council which could be called back into session at short notice, has set itself the target date of Nov 12 or latest 15 to complete its work. The Contracting Parties meeting begins from Nov 22, and is to be a ministerial one from Nov 24.


The Chairman of the GATT Council, India's Amb Bhagirath Lal Das has already initiated informal consultations since middle of last week. But many participants seem unsure at this stage of the final outcome.


At Wednesday's meeting, the US and Japan were silent, while the EEC itself made some remarks about need to be 'realistic.


Brazil perhaps put it most succinctly when it said there should be an agreed text by Nov 12 (implying that ministers can't come here to negotiate) and that no ministerial statement or communique out of the meeting would be taken 'seriously' by anyone, if it was merely to be a series of decisions for 20 or 23 studies (as listed now in the draft text, with square brackets and footnotes galore, prepared by the preparatory committee.


Such an outcome, Brazil warned would bring ridicule to an institution that prides itself about its 'seriousness'. All the Third World countries who spoke in effect underlined this position, and said that the priority should be the unfinished business of the Tokyo Round and the implementation of the 1979 work programme, rather than new programs. There were also some suggestions that rather than attempt to 'negotiate' the square-bracketed text, fresh text might be drawn up.