Jul 15, 1986

CALENDAR FOR GSTP NEGOTIATIONS APPROVED.

GENEVA, JULY 11 (IFDA-CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) A calendar of activities for the start and conclusion of the first round of negotiations for a Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP) among third world countries was approved here Friday at a meeting of the GSTP negotiating committee under the chairmanship of Amb. Paulo Nogueira Batista of Brazil.

At a press conference Friday afternoon, Batista said that work on GSTP was proceeding faster than the work in GATT on the organisation of a new round, "and we are hopeful that we will be in a position to come to final conclusions and establish the GSTP by September 1987".

A Ministerial meeting, at Brasilia in May, had launched the first round of negotiations, after approving the GSTP agreement and agreeing on the techniques and modalities to be followed in the first round of negotiations.

At the meeting of the GSTP Negotiating Committee Friday, further details of the calendar of work to achieve the target dates set by the Brasilia Meeting were approved.

The committee also set up two working groups to complete some of the gaps in the GSTP agreement, including those on "definitions" and on "rules of origin".

As decided by the G77 Foreign Ministers in 1982, the GSTP is to be open to all member-countries of the Group of 77, who notify the GSTP negotiating committee of their desire to participate.

So far some 63 countries of the group have notified, and constitute the membership of the GSTP negotiating committee which has the overall mandate to supervise the conduct of negotiations.

The Brasilia meeting had decided that G-77 member countries within to participate in the first round of the negotiations should notify their intention to the chairman of the GSTP negotiating committee by October 1, submit their request lists by December 31, 1986, and conclude negotiations by September 1987.

Of the 63 members of the GSTP negotiating committee, 57 have already submitted their preliminary request lists.

The UNCTAD Secretariat, which is the executing agency for the GSTP project of the Group of 77, financed by the UNDP out of the special trust funds for OCDC activities, has been preparing computerised lists showing various trade flows and markets for the products on request lists among the countries participating in the GSTP, and which are being made available to countries concerned.

The GSTP negotiating committee decided Friday that, the countries notifying their intention to participate and submitting their request lists, should prepare their "offer" lists of concessions and present them by the first trimester of 1987.

Before that the UNCTAD GSTP project would consolidate by the end of August, information on trade regimes and on trade flows concerning products of export interest to member countries who have submitted their request lists.

The project in its technical assistance programme would also give priority to countries notifying their intention to participate in the first round, and assist them in the preparation of request lists during the fourth trimester of 1986, and in the preparation of their offer lists by the firs trimester of 1987.

The actual bilateral and/or plurilateral negotiations on exchange of concessions are to be conducted and concluded during the second trimester of 1987.

The multilateralisation of the exchange of these concessions, and settling the balance of rights and obligations of participants, is to be carried out in the months of July/August 1987.

As agreed at Brasilia, the first round of negotiations are to be concluded in September 1987, at a Ministerial meeting to be held in Belgrade, where the agreement and the exchange of concessions are to be signed, opening the way for ratifications and subsequent entry into force of the GSTP.

As to the reactions of the industrial countries, Batista said, the third world countries had not sought any reactions nor had they heard of any.

Some of the industrial countries, Batista added, could be worried because they would face some stiffer competition in some third world markets.

But even they realised that the net result of the GSTP would be to increase the potential of the third world through the GSTP to expand trade, not only among themselves, but in relation to the industrial world too.