6:26 AM Jun 16, 1994
GERMANY AND SWITZERLAND WOO WTOGeneva 15 Jun (TWN) -- Germany and Switzerland presented Wednesday to a sub-committee of the Preparatory Committee on the World Trade Organizations their 'offers' and 'bids' to get the WTO located in their countries. Officials of the two countries are due to meet with the delegations next week to further explain their 'offers' and the facilities and answer the questions -- the Swiss on 23 June and Germany on 24 June. The WTO Preparatory Committee, which is to take decisions by consensus and make recommendations to the WTO Ministerial Conference, has agreed to take decisions by mid-July, well in time before the summer recess. Germany, which will shift its capital from Bonn to Berlin by end of the 90s, wants to attract the WTO and other international organizations to be located at Bonn which might otherwise relapse to its status before it was picked by Konrad Adenaur to be the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany -- that of a pleasant, sleepy town or village on the banks of the Rhine. Germany which wants to attract international organizations who, by their presence, would help fill the large office space that would be vacated and help the economy of Bonn and surrounding areas, has tried to persuade UNDP and UNICEF to move but failed. It is now hoping to get the WTO, and with its presence attract other organizations. Switzerland, as the host of the GATT and the UN, wants the WTO to continue in Geneva. Any decision by WTO to locate elsewhere could well set off similar moves from other international organizations, dealing a severe blow to the economy of Geneva. While Geneva is still a front-runner -- given the fact that WTO moving to Bonn would countries setting up full missions at that place, and running the risk of negotiators becoming isolated from other international fora and their work -- the Swiss have also to move to end the many grievances of the diplomatic community here. Germany has offered to provide free accommodation to the WTO secretariat -- offering the premises of the present German Parliament when it moves out to Berlin, and till then other premises. Switzerland is offering the present building -- Centre William Rappard on the banks of lake Geneva, where the GATT secretariat is located (more space in that building would be available soon when the UN High Commission for Refugees which occupies part of the premises moves out to another building soon) and also build additional conference facilities. It is also offering free office space for the missions of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) -- whose numbers are growing under the current World Bank/IMF development strategies -- which would reduce the costs of their missions to WTO and the UN offices in Geneva.