Dec 23, 1989

SOVIET GATT OBSERVER STATUS QUITE DIFFERENT FROM TAIWAN'S.

GENEVA, DECEMBER Q1 (BY CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) GATT Director-General Arthur Dunkel indicated Thursday that the Soviet Union might be admitted as an observer of GATT early in 1990.

At his year-end press conference, Dunkel said there was no parallel between Soviet Union getting "observer" status in GATT and any such decision for "Taiwan".

As far as the United Nations was concerned, he reminded newsmen, Taiwan was a province of China, while the Soviet Union was a recognised sovereign State of the United Nations. As far as Taiwan was concerned there was a legal problem that had to be solved or conceded, Dunkel added.

Earlier, Dunkel had said that, as he did with any country that wanted to be an observer, he had advised the Soviet Union to check with the large number of CPs to be sure that it would be acceptable. The Soviet Union had done so, sometimes at very high levels, and had got some "positive signals" from some of the major powers. They were continuing their consultations, and after they had completed it, he expected them to come back to him to if there was enable him to check whether there was a consensus. If there was, he would advise the USSR to send in a formal letter and then it would be put on the GATT Council agenda and approved.

Dunkel implied that in the light of the Malta Summit, this could come about early in the New Year.

Asked whether GATT would "adapt" itself to adherence (of countries) with new systems or whether he expected the Soviet Union to adopt the "western style". Dunkel said the Soviet Union was interested in observer-ship because it was moving towards economic reforms in a direction, which could enable it to conform to the rules and principles of GATT.

Asked about the reported U.S. view that the Soviet Union's becoming an observer at GATT should await conclusion of the Uruguay Round, Dunkel said this was not his "understanding".