Mar 13, 1990


GENEVA, MARCH 9 (BY CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) -- The Soviet Union has submitted a formal application for "observer" status at meetings of the GATT Contracting Parties and of the GATT Council, the GATT spokesman announced Friday.

The application handed over to the GATT Director-General Thursday is expected to be issued as a GATT document, and is expected to be on the agenda of the GATT Council April 3.

In formally sending in an application, the Soviet Union has said that it is seeking the "observer" status in order to examine the pre-requisites for a future accession to the General Agreement and to get acquainted with the methods of work of the various GATT bodies. This would also enable the Soviet Union to keep the GATT Contracting Parties informed of the process of restructuring of the Soviet economy now under way, the Soviet letter has said.

GATT spokesman said that while there would be full discussions in the Council at its next meeting in April, a decision would perhaps need further consultations.

After the Malta Bush-Gorbachov summit, remarks of President Bush suggested that the U.S. would end its opposition and support the Soviet move for observership in GATT. But a comment in the U.S. Information Agency bulletin suggested that the U.S. would not want any action until the Uruguay Round was concluded. Japan too was reported to be of the same view.

In this situation, while no one is expected to oppose the Soviet request when it comes up before the GATT Council at its next meeting, further consultations is likely to be necessary before any decision can be taken.