Nov 13, 1982




Geneva Nov 11 (IPS/by Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- Some progress in preparing a draft for the ministerial declaration for the GATT meeting in November, but with persisting difficulties still in 'key areas' was reported Thursday at a brief meeting of the GATT council.  

Work on the draft has been going an amidst a small group of key delegations chaired by the GATT Council Chairman, Amb Bhagirath Lal Das of India. The Council met briefly Thursday to hear a progress report from the chairman, and a Council meeting was set for Sunday afternoon to complete its work. 

Das reported Thursday evening that intensive consultations were going an but there was not yet a complete draft. It was hoped to produce a text by Saturday afternoon, to enable delegations to study it and meet at a rare Sunday meeting.

 While there had been progress in nearly all areas that would enable one to see more clearly 'the eventual shape' of the document that would emerge, Das said that difficulties still persisted, particularly in certain key areas.

 The areas of difficulty, were listed by Das, according to a GATT spokesman, as over the 'nature of commitments' to be included in the declaration, 'agriculture and particularly agricultural subsidies and disciplines, safeguards, problems of developing countries, and the future work of GATT.

 Issues like the US proposed 'trade in services', 'trade-related investment issues'. and 'North-South trade negotiations' would appear to come under the last category.

 The work is taking place at a time of long-distance shots from Washington via the press about US unilateral actions against Third World countries, if they would not yield to the US viewpoints an some of these items, and the EEC's own shots via media about its issuing its own declaration, rather than agree to 'firm commitments' and yield on agricultural subsidies issues.

 The list of items where there were 'persistent difficulties', outlined by Das, also seemed to cover pretty well the key issues facing the multilateral trading system, and its response to the stagnating trade and world economic crisis.