Sep 14, 1988


GENEVA, SEPTEMBER 12 (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) -- Non-aligned foreign Ministers have called upon third world countries "to continue to consult closely with each other on a common approach" on the issues in the Uruguay round.

The call is in the economic part of the declaration adopted by the meeting of Foreign Ministers, which ended Saturday night at Nicosia in Cyprus.

The need for high policy priority and attention of third world governments to the Uruguay round issues and "a collective response from the south had been given by the South Commission at its meeting in Mexico City in August.

Such a collective response, the Commission had said, was needed "to face the well-organised strategy of the developed countries, which are attempting to put in place, piece by piece, a structure for a new system corresponding essentially to their vision of the world and their interests".

The Commission had warned that the Uruguay round MTNS was qualitatively different from earlier GATT round, and that it was an attempt at restructuring and refashioning the rules of the international trading system and the design and management of the global economy, and that its outcome might vitally affect the domestic development and future options of third world countries.

Following the Mexico meeting, the chairman of the Commission, Julius Nyerere had forwarded the statement to the chair of the NAM as well as other heads of governments of third world countries.

In their declaration at Nicosia, the NAM Foreign Ministers expressed their appreciation of the Commission’s statement and urged the members of NAM and other third world countries to participate fully in the Uruguay round negotiations with a view to achieving a balanced outcome of the negotiations.

The Ministers recognised that some of the proposals made in the Uruguay round had implications for the domestic development process of third world countries.

"This made it necessary", the Ministers said, "for the non-aligned and other developing countries to continue to consult closely with each other on a common approach taking into account inter alia the following elements:

--The preservation and strengthening of the multilateral trading system should remain the prime objective of the Uruguay round,

--Sectors of interest to developing countries such as agriculture, tropical products and textiles should receive high priority,

--Restoration of confidence in a rule-based international trading system through a return to transparent multilateral non-discriminatory disciplines, improved adherence by major developed countries to the letter and spirit of the agreed rules and disciplines and the introduction of collective mechanism for enforcement of the rights of the weak as of the strong,

--A central objective of a reformed multilateral trading system should be the promotion of the sustained development of developing countries,

--These objectives of trade policy should be fully taken into account in the Uruguay round of negotiations, particularly in the new areas. Full respect should also be shown for policy objectives of national laws and regulations,

--The concept of differential and more favourable treatment for developing countries reiterated in the Punta del Este declaration should be preserved, strengthened and effectively implemented in all areas of the negotiations,

--Provisions of GATT and GATT instruments which gave certain flexibilities to developing countries in the use of commercial policy instruments should be preserved. These provision were the results of many years of effort of the developing countries to adapt the GATT system to their trade, development and financial needs,

--Close linkages between trade, money and finance should be recognised. In this regard normalcy in the international trading system cannot be fully restored without bringing about an improvement in the functioning of the international trading system ensuring through the international financial and monetary systems adequate financial flows to the developing countries to meet their development needs and debt obligations,

--Multilateral disciplines in new areas should be considered along with international measures for the promotion of service industries sin developing countries, removal of barriers to transfer of technologies, and for dealing with the restrictive business practices of the transnational corporations".

Earlier in their declaration, the Ministers noted that the Uruguay round was taking place in the background of "sharply unsettled conditions in world trade".

They referred in this connection to the proliferation of protectionist measures circumventing or violating GATT rules and disciplines, bilateral and sectoral arrangements and grey area measures that posed grave dangers to the multilateral trading system, discriminatory measures taken mainly against third world countries because of their lack of effective retaliatory capability, and widespread attempts to use the leverage of access to market for goods in industrialised countries to obtain concessions from third world countries in other areas.

"These developments", the Ministers said, "were acting adversely against the interest of the developing countries".

The Ministers also regretted the violations of the standstill commitment and the non-implementation of the rollback commitments.

They also attached high priority to the negotiation of a comprehensive understanding on safeguards, and emphasised the need to preserve, in any such understanding, the basic concept of non-discrimination in GATT.

The Ministers called on all participants to enter into meaningful negotiations in order to achieve concrete progress at the earliest possible date.

The Ministers emphasised the need to preserve, strengthen and effectively implement the concept of special and differential treatment for third world countries, which had been reiterated in the Punta del Este declaration.

They also regretted attempts being made to reopen some of the provisions of GATT and GATT instruments that gave certain flexibilities to third world countries in the use of commercial policy instruments, and recalled that these instruments were the result of many years of effort of the third world countries to adapt the GATT system to their trade, development and financial needs.

Immediate steps should be taken in the Uruguay round towards liberalising agriculture trade by eliminating restrictions and distortions by industrial countries, particularly through non-tariff and tariff barriers and subsidised exports, the Ministers said.

All such measures affecting import access and export competition, the Ministers added, should be brought under strengthened and more operationally effective GATT rules and disciplines and taking into account the development dimensions.

The Ministers also observed that not much progress had been made in other areas of interest to the third world, namely in textiles and tropical products.

The textiles sector which accounted for the largest proportion of manufactures exports of third world countries the Ministers noted, had unfortunately been the victim of the longest period of discriminatory treatment in GATT, and the derogation from general rules had become progressively worse through successive enlargement of coverage under the MFA and eclipse of its few positive provisions.

The Ministers reaffirmed the interest of third world countries in seeking return of this trade to the normal framework of GATT at the earliest.

On tropical products, the Ministers welcomed proposals for improvement of access in the industrialised countries, but expressed concern over the slow progress in the negotiations.

The agreement at Punta del Este, they stressed, called for special attention to negotiations in this area and for considering it as an issue requiring priority.

Immediate steps should hence be taken towards full liberalisation of the tropical products of export interest to the third world.

Reviewing developments in the round in new areas – Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS), and services – the Ministers underscored the "fact that domestic policies of third world countries in these areas are vitally important for the development of third world countries and that multilateral regimes should take fully into account the interest of these countries".

The Ministers also reiterated "the need for limiting the negotiations in these areas to the trade-related aspects only" as agreed at Punta del Este.

On services, the Ministers strongly affirmed the need "to explicitly provide for measures designed to promote the development of service industries in the developing countries in any regime in the sector that might emerge from the negotiations".

"Any such multilateral set of rules should fully respect the policy objectives of national laws and obligations", the declaration added.