Nov 27, 1982




Geneva nov 25 (IPS/Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- UNCTAD secretariat studies on various aspects of services, but in a wider context than mere 'trade' are continuing and will go on, UNCTAD

Secretary-General Gamani Corea told a press conference Thursday.


Corea had been asked to comment on the US moves to extend the GATT role in the area of services and high technology. The secretariat as such had no position on an issue like this, Corea said. But right from UNCTAD I, and more recently as a result of an unanimous Trade and Development Board resolution, studies were going an in UNCTAD on protectionism, structural adjustment, and various aspects of these problems, including services. Many of these issues were being looked at in UNCTAD in a wider context, and not merely the trade context, and these would be continued including on aspects like shipping, transfer of technology etc. Some of the outcome of the studies would be presented to the Committee on Manufactures early next year, and to the Trade and Development Board in March, and would also figure at UNCTAD V. But the studies were a continuing one on the wider issues and not one study or one report.


About the Pakistan Minister's suggestion for a new trade negotiations on all trade issues through a new international trade organisation, and in the interim, jointly by UNCTAD and GATT, Corea noted the idea was not a new one. The need for a comprehensive trade organisation had been there from UNCTAD I itself, and had been suggested by the Brandt commission, in the recent Commonwealth Secretariat study, and among the proposals for restructuring the UN system.


The real question was whether the time was now ripe for it, whether governments were ready to reconsider the original idea of a comprehensive trade organisation, envisaged in the Havana Charter but never implemented. But in Corea's view the issue should be kept alive, because of its significance and meaning.


Asked by an American newsman about the need for ending confrontation and rhetoric in North-South negotiations and moving towards 'cooperation', Corea said no one wanted any empty rhetoric. But confrontation and rhetoric arose in the context of frustration of countries. When there was an ongoing process of negotiations, he had seen governments were willing to drop rhetoric and talk serious business. "But if there is a feeling that nothing can be done, and there is an attitude of hostility, the natural tendency is to take refuge behind rhetoric and strong positions of principles and generalities".


Asked about the French minister's remarks at the GATT ministerial Wednesday, questioning the relevance of the 'traditional free trade' principles in the current context of the world economic situation and the plea in effect for 'managed trade', Corea said that no one could say that there was any 'free trade'.


"There is a very big element of management in every economy, and in crisis like now, management is increasing. The problem is not free trade vs managed trade, but whether trade should be based an a system of good rules or less disciplined and less transparent and more discriminatory. Anyone who now comes raising the flag of free trade is a bit passe (out of date)".