Apr 5, 1989
US, EEC EXUDE OPTIMISM OVER GATT TALKS.GENEVA, APRIL 4, BY CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN.-- The United States was optimistic Tuesday that current talks to resolve impasse over the Uruguay round would end in agreements and would enable negotiations to resume again. The European communities appeared to share this view. This optimistic assessment was projected at separate press conferences by the U.S. delegate, Warren Lavorel and EEC delegates Hugo Paemen and Guy Lagras. Both U.S. and EEC underscored the importance of agreement in the talks to negotiate the issues of substantive norms and standards for Intellectual Property Rights (IPRS) and for their enforcement and dispute settlement. While Lavorel insisted this had to be to be in GATT, Paemen said that the substantive questions should be negotiate in the Uruguay round and it could be decided later the institutional problems (of whether it should be in GATT or WIPO). However, after a meeting of the informal third world group Monday night, participants there were less optimistic. Third world participants said that while on agriculture there was "at least confrontation" of issues, on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the two sides were talking at different levels. Sources said that on the TRIPS issue, Brazil had put forward a series of amendments to the Dunkel text which in effect would confine negotiations to applicability of basic GATT principles (without spelling them out) to those in "relevant international agreements", and for rules and disciplines on exercise of IPRS in so far as they affected international trade, enforcement under national law of such rights and procedures for multilateral settlement of disputes between governments. The Brazilian amendments deleted from the framework for negotiations suggested by Dunkel of standards and principles concerning IPRS, question of "effective and appropriate means" for enforcement under national law. The Brazilian amendment would also appear to have deleted from the Dunkel text, in relation to clarification of GATT provisions (as mandated at Punta del Este), the "understanding" of the chairman of the negotiating group about the main points of the discussions in the group over the last two years, pointing out the lack of consensus in the negotiating group on the chairman's "understanding". In his comments, Lavorel said that the differences on textiles and safeguards had been narrowed down to a couple of areas and an agreement could be reached. The EEC agreed with this view on safeguards, but not on textiles, viewing the Dunkel text as not balanced (implying that it should be even more tilted in favour of imparting countries). Lavorel said in textiles some countries wanted a direct statement about getting rid of the MFA for fulfilment of the Punta lei Este mandate, and "there are ways of doing this". But on the idea of "freezing" restrictions at the current access levels, as demanded by third world participants, Lavorel said there was no way the U.S. could accept this. On the question of "set aside" in agriculture - which the EEC is insisting upon - Lavorel said it had nothing to do with protection or government support. The U.S. provided the world's food reserves, and they were now very low. Last year, the U.S. had dipped into its strategic reserves to provide supplies abroad, and depending on this year's harvest, decisions would have to be taken. Lavorel said while the EEC was not willing to negotiate its common agricultural policy, the U.S. believer it was willing to negotiate the techniques of the policy, and it was the U.S. belief that this included the question of variable levies. Lagras for the EEC however declared later in response to question whether they were willing to get rid of the "two-price" system: "we are not prepared to expose our farmers to world market forces. We do insist on the two-price system even under the 'tarification' formula (suggested by the U.S. and Cairns group)". After Monday night's meeting of the informal third world group, where several participants explained what was taking place in the "green room consultations" (for benefit of those who were not present there), third world sources gave this impression of the talks: Agriculture: the talks were getting more anti more problematic. A number of countries have tabled amendments to the Dunkel text. While the "green room" consultations were to resume Monday night, and the outlook was uncertain. (The consultations were suspended before midnight, and were due to resume Tuesday morning). While the Dunkel text could be a basis for improvement, the EEC was creating problems by refusing even to any formulation that the "basic principles" of GATT should apply. Third world countries were insisting on specific reference to the non-discrimination and most-favoured-nation principle. Textiles: there was wide divergence on the issue of 'freeze". TRIPS: industrial countries were arguing that the Dunkel text was inadequate while Brazil, Tanzania, Colombia, Yugoslavia, Argentina, Uruguay, India and Pakistan, - though with varying nuances - maintained that standards and norms could not be negotiated in the GATT. The negotiations seemed to be a clear north-south division, and the two sides appeared to be talking at two different levels with no meeting ground. Lavorel at his briefing denied there was a north-south issue. But conceded that the countries opposing were all from the south.