Sep 16, 1992


Geneva Sep 15 (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The application of Taiwan to join the GATT is now expected to be brought up before the GATT Council at its next meeting and referred to a working party.

GATT sources said this had been generally agreed to at a consultation with contracting parties held last week by the Chairman of the GATT Council, Amb. Balkrishan Zutshi of India.

Consultations, sources said, are however continuing on the exact wording of the conclusion, including how to ensure a sequencing of the treatment of the applications of the People's Republic of China and that of Taiwan to ensure that the former is enabled to "resume" its status as a GATT contracting party before or simultaneously with Taiwan.

The application of the PRC is pending before a working party. That of Taiwan could not so far be brought before the GATT Council because it is not a 'country' recognized within the UN and its system.

Under the existing provisions of the General Agreement, Taiwan can gain entry into GATT as a "separate customs territory" only if the People's Republic of China (which alone is recognised as the legitimate government of China by the UN) is itself a member of the GATT, some GATT sources point out.

Hong Kong and Macao were admitted as cps, on the basis of their being 'colonies' of Britain and Portugal respectively and being separate customs territories.

But even this was done, countries like India entered reservations, reserving their positions as to the situation after these territories revert to Chinese sovereignty, if by then China is not a GATT contracting party itself.

The proposed Multilateral Trade Organization under the Uruguay Round, if and when it comes into being, will obviate this (and Taiwan could become a member on its own).

But no one now expects the Uruguay Round negotiations to be effectively resumed and concluded before the outcome of the US elections.

And if Bush is defeated, as most polls indicate he could be, "it would be a totally different ball-game", several participant say.