Apr 6, 1989
DUNKEL'S TEXTS UNSTABLE – "LIKE TABLE WITH A LONGER LEG".GENEVA, APRIL 4, BY CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN – The four texts presented by GATT Director-General Arthur Dunkel had no balance within itself, and was "like a table with four legs, with one leg longer than others, and thus unable to maintain its balance," Brazilian delegate, Amb. Rubens Ricupero told newsmen Tuesday. Ricupero noted that in the current series of green room consultations, the industrial countries had given a number of criteria to judge the texts and the outcome - pragmatic, unambiguous, comprehensive - etc. But one important criteria had been missing - that the texts should faithfully reflect the views and interests of all participants and gather and reflect the fundamental positions held on each subject as they had evolved after Montreal. The aim of the consultations, Ricupero said, was not to reach the final stage of the negotiations, nor produce definitive substantive results, but provide a set of guidelines and a road map to unblock the negotiations without prejudging them. To achieve this, the texts in each of the areas should provide a balance in its own subject, adequately reflecting the basic negotiating positions. Also, taken as a whole, the four papers should maintain between themselves a minimum degree of coherence and equilibrium, and provide comparable levels of precision or vagueness, ambition or modesty in their purposes. But the four papers were like the four legs of a table. If one of its legs were longer, as was the case in respect of the TRIPS paper, it was impossible to maintain the balance. Ricupero said that consultations were still going on and it was impossible to make a final judgement about the outcome. "But in most of the subjects, if not all, we are all still far apart". In a reference to the optimistic talk by the U.S. earlier in the day on textiles and safeguards, Ricupero said at the informal third world group meeting Monday night, most of them felt they were not near any agreement on textiles or safeguards. In safeguards, he said, the EEC wanted to get rid of a chapeau which spoke of the agreement being based on principles of the GATT, and wanted a bland one that "ministers stress the importance of a comprehensive agreement an safeguards". Third world countries, Ricupero added, insisted that such an agreement should be based an the basic principles of the general agreement and aim to re-establish multilateral control over safeguards inter alia by eliminating measures that now escaped such control. In the consultations, Ricupero said, Brazil had presented several amendments to the Dunkel text, and most of them had been accepted. But the EEC had made acceptance conditional on the changes in the chapeau and were resisting the references to the "basic principles" of GATT in the chapeau. In textiles, Ricupero said, the fundamental points were more numerous: there was the problem of freeze, the question of modalities and dismantling of the MFA, and the time-span for this. There was a fundamental difference between the industrial and third world nations on the time-span, Ricupero said. A number of third world countries wanted a precise definition of the beginning of the dismantling process of the MFA. Countries like India, Pakistan and others wanted this starting point to be date of expiry of the present MFA. On none of these three points was-there yet an agreement. In agriculture there had some progress basically on the long-term issues, due to a convergence of views between the U.S. and EEC and the Cairns Group, but some points of agreement were still missing. The Cairns Group believe, that for the credibility of the commitment to long-term reform there should be a date set for the start of the reform process and an agreed time-frame within which it would be completed. The Cairns Group wanted the basic rules for long-term reform adopted by December 1989, while some like the EEC wanted to leave this open till the end of the round. Also, the Cairns Group wanted agreement to be reached by October on the period of time for achieving long-term reform and agreement on the "Aggregate Measure of Support" (AMS) by which the reforms would be judge, as also the improved and strengthened GATT rules and disciplines. In terms of short-term measures there was a wide gap among the participants, the Brazilian Delegate added. Brazil would like to see an effective and enforceable freeze, with very specific agreements on administered prices, access to markets and export subsidies. The commitments should be on the basis of specific commodities and not overall government budget levels. Otherwise, if there were commitment only on the latter, it would be easy to shift support or export subsidy from one area where the market prices were high to another area. Third world exporters could compete on the basis of their production and efficiency, but not on the basis of their treasuries, Ricupero said and gave the example of the U.S. subsidisation of exports of soybean all and poultry meat, where indebted third world countries facing a financial crisis could not compete in subsidisation. Ricupero also mentioned the trios issue as the most difficult. What was being suggested in TRIPS, in the Dunkel text and by the industrial nations, he added, would be far from the Punta del Este mandate and make fundamental changes in the GATT. Third world countries, he noted, had consulted among themselves and had presented a paper a few weeks ago calling for parallel negotiations an the issue of substantive norms and standards in the competent fora. The most competent forum, from the juridical and technical point of view, Ricupero added, was the WIPO. Third world countries were willing to discuss in GATT trade-related aspects of the IPR as they related to international trade. Licensing agreements restricting exports to particular markets were trade-distortive and constituted obstacles to trade and could be discussed in GATT. But the question of norms and substantive issues of IPRS was tied up with issues of public interest. It was not as if third world countries were against IPRS, but the issue of protection of rights of the individual holder of the IPR had to be balanced by public interest. From this point of view Ricupero said, Brazil had presented a number of amendments to the Dunkel text. The Brazilian amendments would ensure that the negotiations would clarify the GATT provisions, and address the applicability to TRIPS of the basic principles in relevant international agreements. The Dunkel text had called for application to TRIPS of basic principles (of GATT) like national treatment, non-discrimination and transparency. The Brazilian amendment also deleted the entire reference in the Dunkel text to negotiating standards and principles concerning availability and scope of IPRS. Another Brazilian amendment called for negotiations on rules and disciplines concerning exercise of IPRS as they affected international trade, and for addressing the issue of enforcement under national law of IPRS. The Dunkel text in this last would have called for negotiations an the effective and appropriate measures for enforcement in national laws. Ricupero noted that third world countries had shown willingness. In regard to trade in counterfeit goods, to negotiate a far-reaching accord in the Uruguay round, extending the definition of "counterfeiting" from its present use (in WIPO) in relation to "trade marks" to include also "patents". However, the industrial nations appeared unwilling to respond and seemed to have little interest. "If the Italians and the French, Who complain most, are not interested in this, why should we be?" Ricupero asked. In TRIPS he added, the third world nations were not the "demanders" and did not seek the negotiations.