Dec 1, 1982



Geneva Nov 29 (IPS/Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The declaration as finally adopted has made major changes in three parts of the socalled 'political declaration', from the draft put to the ministers by the GATT Council.


In the area of protectionism and rollback, apart from weakening the committment, the final text does not deal with or mention measures used by countries 'to circumvent' GATT rules. In Agriculture, while keeping out the issue of 'subsidies' in the standstill actions during the work programme, it also redues any implications about a standstill. But in the actual decision about the work programme, a reference to agricultural subsidies is included, to which the EEC has objected, and though not a formal reservation, issued a separate declaration making its position clear.


The textual extracts were carried in IFDA (SUNS) bulletins of Nov 20 1982, No. 653. The following gives some of the major changes:


1. Protectionism. The final text combines two separate provisions relating to standstill and new protectionism, and rollback of old. It provids that in drawing up the work programme and priorities for the 80s, the contracting parties, individually and jointly undertake:


* to make determined efforts to ensure that trade policies and measures are consistent with GATT principles and rules and to resist protectionist pressures in the formulation and implementation of national trade policy and in proposing legislation: and also to refrain from taking or maintaining measures inconsistent with GATT and to make determined efforts to avoid measures which would limit or distort international trade.


* in Agriculture, in the political declaration part, the undertaking during the two-year period of work programme to keep export subsidy policies in line with undertakings in respect of other goods is knocked out.


It says: to bring agriculture more fully into the multilateral trading system by improving the effectiveness of GATT rules, provisions and disciplines and through their common interpretation: and to bring export competition under greater disciline. To this end a major two-year work programme shall be undertaken.


In the separate decision an Trade in Agriculture, the paragraph of the draft relatinq to the relationship of General Agreement and export subsidies has been slightly altered. The EEC has not accepted this part, while not blocking a consensus on the declaration as such.


While the draft talked of the work programme examining 'the operation of the General Agreement as regards subsidies affecting agriculture, including export subsidies', the new draft has changed 'including' into 'especially', thus seeming to emphasise the subsidies. The EEC's argument is that not only export subsidies but other agricultural support measures too are of same character.