Apr 18, 1986

GLOBAL COMMITMENTS SOUGHT ON STANDSTILL ANN ROLLBACK.

GENEVE, APRIL 16 (IFDA) A joint paper on behalf of a number of third world countries, tabled before the GATT Preparatory Committee, has spelt out the elements of a "global commitment" on standstill, rollback and safeguards, to be adopted by the GATT Contracting Parties (CPS) before the launching of a new round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations (MTNS).

The joint paper tabled by Brazil is cosponsored by Argentina, Ivory Coast, Cuba, Egypt, Gabon, India, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Tanzania and Yugoslavia.

The commitments to standstill, rollback and conclude a comprehensive agreement on safeguards, are "mutually reinforcing undertakings" which represent a crucial contribution to the preservation and strengthening of the GATT system.

On standstill, the third world text would require all GATT CPS to provide, before the launching of a new round of MTNS, "a firm and individual commitment".

It would involve a commitment not to introduce any new restrictive import measures, and not to agree with any such measures proposed by the legislative branch of government, unless the new measures are in strict conformity with the provisions of the general agreement relating to anti-dumping and countervailing duties in Article VI, emergency actions on imports of particular products in Article XIX, restrictions to safeguard balance of payments in Article XII, and governmental assistance to economic development in Article XVIII.

The decision to standstill shall apply to all sectors of trade in goods, including textiles and clothing, and any new restrictive trade measure would have to conform fully with the provisions of GATT in Articles VI, XIX, XII, and XVIII.

The standstill decision shall be taken at the highest level of the executive branch of government, by executive order or presidential decree or equivalent legal instruments, and supported by legislative sanction where constitutionally required.

The individual commitments should be notified to GATT before the launching of a new round of MTNS, and should become effective on launching.

On rollback, the third world joint paper said that "a firm and credible individual commitment to rollback measures inconsistent with GATT or not based on specific GATT provisions" would be required from industrial countries in favour of third world countries.

The rollback decision shall apply to all sectors of trade, including textiles and clothing, and shall constitute a commitment to "phase out" in accordance with a time-bound scheme not exceeding three years.

Like the standstill commitment, the rollback commitment too shall be taken at the highest level of the executive branch of a government, and backed by appropriate legislative sanction where constitutionally required, and shall be notified to GATT before the launching of a new round.

The GATT Council is mandated to establish a proper machinery for monitoring and surveillance of the standstill and rollback commitments.

On safeguards, the third world join paper said this should be "the first priority" within a new round, and as such a matter for agreement, "independently of the results of negotiations in other areas, at the very first stage of negotiations".

Any agreement on safeguards must be based on the "most favoured nation" principle, should be comprehensive as foreseen in the 1982 Ministerial Declaration, and must clarify and reinforce the disciplines of Article XIX of GATT and be an integral part of the general agreement.

In their paper on standstill, the four Nordic countries (Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), Austria and Switzerland suggested that the Ministerial Declaration on launching the new round should contain a standstill provision.

This would involve commitments by governments:

--Not to introduce measures that are not based on provisions of the GATT system, and

--To make determined efforts to avoid introducing measures, taken in the exercise of GATT rights, that adversely affects international trade.

Measures of relevance to standstill should be notified to GATT, and be subject to existing notification and surveillance mechanisms of the GATT council in special session.

In a separate paper on rollback, Uruguay said that since it would not be appropriate to engage in negotiations in a new round when measures inconsistent with GATT are being applied, the CPS doing so should undertake to eliminate them.

The rollback commitments could neither be in terms of a general undertaking, nor could the selection of rollback measures and their implementation be left to the discretion of importers, Uruguay insisted.

For this would merely result in a reiteration of the 1982 GATT declaration, whose ineffectiveness was generally recognised.

There fore a first stage of rollback should be accepted as a prior condition for launching the new round, and measures to be listed in the Ministerial Declaration, specially on those products of current or potential trade interest to the third world, should be rolled back.

For others a time-bound programme of phase-out, not exceeding three years or the first phases negotiations, should be agreed upon and implemented.