Feb 5, 1991


GENEVA, FEBRUARY 4 (BY CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) GATT Director-General Arthur Dunkel attempted Monday to project an air of optimism over the Uruguay Round by telling businessmen at the Davos Symposium that he hoped "this time next year you will hear reports of how the results of the Round are being implemented".

However, Dunkel also left the door open for a possible failure, by arguing that even in the "inconceivable circumstances" of losing the Round "no sensible government will take the risk of throwing away" the GATT which over the last 40 years had contributed so much to increasing openness of markets, limited discrimination and distortions to trade and provided a framework for settlement of disputes thus proving itself to be "an indispensable tool of political and economic cooperation".

Dunkel said that even in its existing form and without the strengthening and expansion sought through the Uruguay Round, by providing a framework for security and predictability in world markets and in trading relationships among nations the GATT gave businessmen the opportunity to invest and create jobs, develop technologies and products and evolve new marketing strategies.

The Uruguay Round, Dunkel also claimed, was already "something of a success even before its conclusion", and referred to the "new and more efficient" dispute settlement procedures and the trade policy review mechanism put in place after the Mid-term Review.

It had also enabled governments to held the line on new protectionist measures and had exerted a "positive influence" in the real world by encouraging governments to undertake reforms and integrate their economies into the GATT system.

In an effort to persuade governments to restart negotiations and conclude the Round, Dunkel however added: "Allowing the Round to drift on and lose momentum is to risk not just the closing of new opportunities but also losing much that has already been achieved through collective and individual effort over the past four and half years and which the Round must nail down".

Though his efforts to restart the negotiations through a platform for agricultural negotiations have hailed, Dunkel said his consultations had convinced him that there was a consensus in favour of a successful conclusion of the Round and that negotiations were "gradually, but effectively, gaining momentum again".

But moving forward in the outstanding arcas, he said, required that changes or adjustments since Brussels must be taken into account.

"The major problem is to reconcile the legitimate objectives of achieving substantial results in all areas of the Round with the understandable impatience of legislators and, even more of the business community. We can neither lower the ambitions of this Round nor spend unnecessary time to achieve them".