Feb 22, 1990

EC TABLES ITS TARIFF "OFFERS", AND TARGETS 24 COUNTRIES.

GENEVA, FEBRUARY 20 (BY CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN)ó The European Economic Community forwarded to the GATT secretariat Tuesday what it characterised as a detailed illustration of the tariff cuts it would make on the lines of the formula approach it had put forward in the negotiations.

In announcing this, the EEC delegate, Amb. Tran Van-Thinh, identified some 24 countries as on the EEC's target list with six of them identified as on its priority list for purposes of securing reductions in their tariffs.

The six are: Australia, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand and Thailand.

The other countries identified by the EEC as among those whose tariffs it seeks to reduce and bound, but which Tran said were not the "main targets", were: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Hungary, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, USA and South Africa.

The formal procedures of "request/offer" on tariff negotiations agreed upon on 1 February requires each participant to provide the secretariat by 15 March with a proposal for the reduction, elimination and binding of its respective tariffs on a line-by-line basis, along with a summary and an demonstration that the proposal was in conformity with the mid-term accord.

It in effect places a minimum contribution to be able (...) in (...) at the negotiating table to participate (...) in the negotiations.

In announcing the deposit of its proposals to the Secretariat, the EEC said its proposals covered the totality of its tariffs, covering chapters 25-97 of its tariffs (based on the harmonised system), but with the exception of a small number of agricultural products (where there are variable levies) to be negotiated in the agriculture negotiating group.

The EEC said that the market access for products in chapters 1-24, namely agricultural products, would be negotiated in the negotiating group on agriculture, while those for tropical products (falling within chapters 1-24 or 25-97) would be negotiated in the tropical products group.

The EEC said its 483-page illustration, on a tariff-line basis, of the application of its formula approach covered some 7484 tariff lines of which 6709 had a duty rate, and covered EEC imports of the value of 262 million ECUís.

Beyond claiming that the EEC proposals or illustration would reduce the Community average weighted tariff from 5.44 percent to 3.86 percent, the community spokesman would not answer whether and how tariff peaks and tariff escalations would be covered and how they would be brought down, nor how it planned to link the tariff negotiations to non-tariff measures when the Community and the negotiating group had not so far been able to agree on a definition of NTM.

Tran jocularly told a western newsman who pressed him on this, "we are not going to negotiate with you".

The EEC announcement said that the Community would conduct negotiations on the basis of a coordinated approach, linking tariffs and NTMs (to make sure that tariff reductions were not negated by erecting non-tariff barriers), and that it would evaluate the contribution of its partners on the basis of its own formula.

It was in the context of this last that Tran and his advisors came out with the list of priority and target countries.