Apr 12, 1990
AFRICANS CONCERNED OVER NEGLECT OF THEIR INTERESTS.GENEVA, APRIL 10 (BY CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) -- African participants in the Uruguay Round Tuesday expressed their serious concern that in the majority of negotiating groups their interests had not been adequately taken into account and urged all participants to recognise the gravity of the present situation and negotiate with renewed intent to implement the Punta del Este mandate.The African position was presented in the TNC by Kenya’s Prof. Thomas Ariba Ogada. The statement said that for liberalisation to benefit all parties, there should be respect for the elements of the Punta del Este Declaration and political will on all sides "to achieve balanced results". "However after assessing the state of the negotiations, they note with deep concern the lack of balance". The proposals and initiatives advanced in various negotiating groups after the Montreal MTR had the effect of depriving them of their rights under the GATT and imposing obligations in disregard of their special needs and conditions, including that of least developed countries, in contravention of the Punta del Este commitments for a balanced outcome. "This attitude has the potential to undermine the fundamental interests of African countries, participants in the Round, and is not acceptable to them". "African countries have serious reasons for concern; in the majority of Negotiating Groups their interests do not seem to have been adequately taken into account in the past three and half years", the African statement said. In view of their structural handicaps and vulnerability of their economies to the external environment, the African countries urged * Full recognition and implementation of the Punta del Este principle of differential and more favourable treatment to African countries, * uninhibited market access for products of interest to African countries to enable them to carry out sustainable structural reconstruction of their economies, * Preservation of the acquired rights of African countries under existing preferential arrangements and taking of adequate steps to redress the negative effects of trade liberalisation, * Participation of African countries in negotiations on tariffs, non-tariff measures, tropical products and natural resource-based products regardless of their contribution, and * Clear recognition of the specific character of agriculture, beset by complex structural constraints in African countries, and the importance of agricultural production and trade in their development process. Due consideration should also be taken of problems of African net food importing countries in order to enable them to meet high prices of food imports and growth of domestic food production. On new issues, the statement said that "African countries oppose the general tendency of diverting from the original mandate of the negotiations and the total disregard of developmental concerns. In these areas, we need to retain flexibility to ensure developmental, technological and public policy objectives". "Regarding systemic issues, we can only deal with them once we feel reassured that our concern are reflected in the final result of the relevant negotiating groups".