Mar 9, 1992

ARGENTINA ASKS MAJORS TO EXERCISE POLITICAL COURAGE.

GENEVA, MARCH 5 (CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) Argentine vice-Minister for Economy, Dr. Carlos Sanchez suggested Thursday that the major trading nations should show the same political will and courage to undertake domestic reforms, as Argentina had done, and conclude the Uruguay Round.

Sanchez was talking to newsmen at the conclusion of the review of Argentina's trade policy under the GATT's Trade Policy Review Mechanism.

In the review, Argentina received high praise for its reform programme for transformation of its economy and for its privatisation programme despite considerable economic difficulties and adverse international economic environment.

In summing up the discussions, the GATT Council Chairman, Amb. B. K. Zutshi of India underlined that the outcome of the Uruguay Round was critical for Argentina particularly in the fields of agriculture, tropical products and textiles and that its trading partners must reciprocate with improved market access.

"Without the opening of international markets, Argentina's programme would lose much of its effect", he noted adding: "Between 1970 and 1989, Argentina had lost in agricultural exports the equivalent of virtually all its foreign debt as a result of protectionist policies by its trading partners".

Earlier, in responding to the comments of various delegations, Sanchez had announced that Argentina had decided to back the Dunkel Draft Text for concluding the negotiations, viewing it as an important step to move the negotiations towards its final goal.

At a press conference, Sanchez expressed the hope that the negotiations would be concluded, as intended, on schedule by mid-April and that other countries, particularly the major trading nations would show the same political will and courage that Argentina was showing in undertaking its extensive domestic reforms.

However, the vice-minister had no answer whether he really expected the Round could be concluded given the political realities facing President Mitterand, President Bush and other major trading nations.