Feb 10,


GENEVA, FEBRUARY 8 (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN)ó Brazil received Wednesday what a GATT spokesman called "an unusual measure of support" from the members of the GATT Council on its complaint against the United States over its restrictions on Brazilian exports and pressed for reference of the dispute to a GATT panel.

Over 50 countries, counting the 12-member States of the Community and the four Nordics spoke in support of Brazil at the Council Wednesday.

The spokesman noted that in December last when the issue had come up some 25 delegations representing 39 Contracting Parties had spoken in support of Brazil.

Nevertheless the U.S. again blocked reference of the dispute to a panel, arguing that the U.S. Administration was still "consulting" (within itself) and hence the U.S. could not agree to a panel at this stage.

The U.S. actions in imposing 100 percent tariffs on a range of goods, worth on annual import value of 39 million dollars, had been taken under section 301 of the U.S. trade and tariff act, on the ground that Brazil was not providing adequate protection for intellectual property in drugs.

In blocking reference of the dispute to the panel, U.S. delegate, Michael Samuels contended Wednesday that "intellectual property protection was of paramount importance" to the U.S., and his authorities were still consulting on the issue.

The chairman of the Council, Amb. J. Weekes of Canada, pointed to the overwhelming support in the council for the panel request, but to no avail.

The U.S. continued to block, with Samuels even unable to indicate, how long the internal consultations in Washington would take.

Normally, the issue would come up again before the council at its next meeting scheduled for March 8.

But Brazilian delegate, Amb. Rubens Ricupero, after what the GATT spokesman called "repeated and increasingly forceful interventions", served notice that his delegation would summon a special meeting of the Council ahead of the scheduled one.

A Council meeting needs ten days notice.

In raising the issue Wednesday afternoon, Ricupero had referred to the wider general debate in the morning and strong views expressed against section 301 proceedings in the U.S., as also to the GATT Director-General's remarks on unilateral and discriminatory tariff and trade restrictions.

It was now more than six months, since the U.S. actions had been denounced in GATT by Brazil. The U.S. had agreed to hold consultations, only after formally applying the 100 percent duties.

The consultations came to nothing, and in December the case was brought before the Council.

But the U.S. had not agreed at that time to the reference, despite the support of 39 CPS and their serious concern over the growing threat of unilateralism.

Given the importance of the issue, as well as the concrete commercial interests of Brazil that were being damaged, it was no longer justifiable or tolerable to delay any further enforcement of dispute settlement proceedings, Ricupero contended.

On the last occasion, the U.S. had said it hoped to be able to respond to brazilís request more fully at the next meeting.

But the U.S. was now contending that the new administration had not had time to study the matter.

Ricupero noted in this connection that in the Uruguay round, it was the U.S. that was proposing deadlines for various GATT procedures in regard to consultations and dispute settlements, and yet was now blocking and delaying reference of this issue to a panel.

The subject was not a controversial or disputed question, nor an arcane or complex matter needing lengthy study. The U.S. administration had a simple choice: whether or not to adhere to the procedures laid down in article XXIII: 2 of GATT relating to dispute settlements.

"A change in administration is not an acceptable or plausible excuse for further delaying the acceptance of the panel request," Ricupero declared.

"Otherwise, one should amend the new rules on dispute settlement to provide for an express exception to deadlines in cases of changes in government, which would be potentially absurd," Ricupero declared.

The U.S., which was now blocking reference to a panel, was the same, which in the past had complained in Che council in quite strong, terms of delays in the setting up and work of panels.