Jul 16, 1986


GENEVA, JULY 15 (IFDA-CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) A group of third world countries led by Uruguay are reported to be trying to evolve some compromises over a new round of Multilateral Negotiations (MTNS) in GATT, third world sources reported Tuesday.

Discussions in the GATT Preparatory Committee have been deadlocked between the viewpoints of the U.S. and other industrial countries pushing to bring services, investments, intellectual property rights and other new themes into GATT, and the viewpoints of Brazil and nine other third world nations opposing this and insisting on confining the new round to trade in goods.

The group of ten third world nations have formally tabled in the PREPCOM draft recommendations for the Ministerial meeting in Punta del Este, while a group of nine industrial countries have put forward an informal paper.

The informal paper is known to have been drawn up in consultation with the three major trading blocks U.S., EEC and Japan.

Last week both the group of nine and the group of ten tabled revised proposals of theirs to take account of some of the comments in the PREPCOM over the original papers.

But the discussions have not moved forward with the U.S. and EEC insisting that they could not consider anything which did not deal with the new themes, and Brazil and others insisting that they would not consider any new themes that were outside the jurisdiction of the general agreement.

In an effort to break this logjam, Uruguay, as the host country for the September 15 Ministerial meeting, is reported to have got together some 20 third world nations, and this group is reported to have been holding discussions over the weekend and Monday with the nine industrial countries and the three major trading blocs.

This group of 20 includes the Asian countries, south Korea, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Colombia, Chile, Ivory Coast, Zambia and Zaire.

Most of the third world countries in the group have not taken a very strong stand on the services and other new themes, but some (like Uruguay and Sri Lanka) had entered specific reservations at the time of the 1982 GATT Ministerial meeting over GATT competence to deal with services issue.

Whatever their stands on new themes, all these have been insisting on priority and focus in the new round to third world concerns in traditional GATT issues of trade in goods and to agriculture.

Several in this group of 20 would appear to be willing to allow those interested to go on with discussions in GATT on the new themes, but in a separate exercise and not tied to the trade in goods negotiations.

The effort would appear to be to evolve some possible compromises over the new themes that would enable the Punta del Este meeting to launch the new round of negotiations, and give priority to the trade in goods and in agriculture.

Over the weekend and Monday, a small working group representing the 20 third world nations, the group of nine industrial nations, and the three major trading blocs, would appear to have been at work to prepare some drafts which could receive their support.

While some of the third world nations within this group want the compromise efforts and discussions to involve also Brazil and other third world nations opposed to the new themes, some of the industrial countries wish to use the compromise moves to isolate those opposing the new themes.

The GATT Preparatory Committee meetings were adjourned last week by the chairman, GATT Director-General Arthur Dunkel, to enable these consultations and discussions to go forward.

Dunkel himself paid a visit to Montevideo where he held discussions with the Uruguayan Foreign Minister, Enrique Iglesias, who is to preside over the September 15 meeting.

The PREPCOM is due to resume its meetings on July 16.