Jul 29, 1986


GENEVA, JULY 25 (IFDA-CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) – The effort to present the GATT Preparatory Committee with the text of a draft declaration for adoption by GATT Ministers at their meeting in September 15 now unlikely to receive the open support and sponsorship of 40-45 countries, as originally intended, third world sources indicated Friday.

Sources said this became clear after a meeting Friday morning of this "group" – some 20 third world nations led by Colombia and Uruguay, nine industrial nations, and the three "majors" – the U.S.A., EEC, and Japan.

The European Community is reported to have made clear at this meeting that while it would participate as "an observer" in the efforts to put together a revised draft Ministerial Declaration, it would not commit itself and cosponsor the draft.

The entire exercise involving these 40-45 countries had been on the basis that the ultimate outcome could attract 40-45 signatures of countries from the third world and the industrial north, and this could be used to counter and isolate the group of ten third world nations, including India and Brazil, and thus isolate them in their opposition to new themes like services, investment, and intellectual property rights.

This effort is not now expected to get very far, and the GATT Preparatory Committee could at best be faced with two alternative drafts.

Given their somewhat radically different approaches, the PREPCOM could find itself unable to agree on a single text, even with square brackets indicating differences, and could at best forward both texts to the Ministerial Meeting, some of the participants suggest.

The PREPCOM has already failed to report by its "mid-July" deadline, and the GATT Director-General, Arthur Dunkel who chairs it, is reported to have advised the participants that the work must end at least by July 31.

The PREPCOM has before it two alternative formal drafts, one by a group of ten third world nations (Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Egypt, India, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Peru, Tanzania, and Yugoslavia), and a second by Switzerland and Colombia.

In their formal paper, Switzerland and Colombia have said that the paper followed "intensive consultations with a large number of delegations", leaving the impression that it was supported by 40 to 45 countries involved.

However, at the meeting of the GATT PREPCOM on July 17, when the document was formally presented, most of the third world countries involved in the effort merely said that this could be a basis for further work.

In the efforts to revise the draft, and present a "cleaner" text, leaving few square brackets around formulations or texts, the group appears to have run into trouble vis-a-vis the EEC positions on agriculture, treating the entire negotiations as one package, and over the rollback commitments.

The differences on agriculture between the EEC and other Temperate Zone producer/exporters in the group like Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Canada and Uruguay, erupted into charges and counter-charges Thursday by the U.S. delegate, Michael Samuels, and the EEC chief negotiator in GATT, Tran Van Thinh.

This is also reported to have been reflected in the informal group of the PREPCOM in GATT, "the friends of the chairman (Dunkel)", which met Thursday to see whether some text could be negotiated and agreed upon within the PREPCOM.

Meanwhile, as a result of the efforts at revision, a new revision of the Colombia-Swiss text has been produced, though it is still to be the subject of further "revisions" or "refining" over the week-end, with a small group of interested countries meeting on agriculture.

However, at a meeting of the wider group this morning – the group of 20 third world nations, the group of nine industrial nations, and the three "majors" – the EEC reportedly indicated that since its concerns were not being addressed, it would be unable to associate itself with the new text, but would remain an "observer".

The EEC is however reported to have indicated it would participate in the efforts this weekend over agriculture.

The EEC’s final positions over the new round, the EEC representative is reported to have said, would be made up only at Punta del Este, taking all factors into account.

Thereupon, the Asian countries are reported to have added that they would find it difficult to cosponsor a paper unless the three "majors" were also associated and committed to it.

Uruguay too is reported to have said that it would not be able to commit itself to sponsor the paper.

According to some of the participants, it was not clear whether this was due to the EEC stand, or an effort to maintain its "neutrality" as host country, to enable it to exercise some role in bringing about compromises at Punta del Este.

Only Canada, South Korea, and Sweden on behalf of the Nordics reportedly indicated their willingness to cosponsor a revised text.

According to participants in the meeting, a large number of third world countries did not indicate their minds.

But several of them privately said later that while they would continue to associate themselves with the "process", they would not be able to commit themselves to the Colombian-Swiss draft, and cloud make up their minds only at Punta del Este.

Some of them said that apart from the problems involved over the EEC stand on agriculture, some of the revisions made now in the other traditional areas of GATT are "retrograde" insofar as third world countries were concerned, making it difficult for them to associate themselves with it.

It is now expected that rather than showing up the limited commitment and sponsorship for the paper, any revised texts would be presented at the GATT informal meeting of the "friends of the chairman", in the name of Colombia and Switzerland, leaving the overall impression that it has the support of the 40-45 countries, even though everyone now knows this is not correct.