Jul 13, 1992


GENEVA, 9 JULY (CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) -- The term of office of Arthur Dunkel as Director-General of GATT, which is expiring at the end of this year, is being extended till July 1993.

In December last year Dunkel had "confirmed", in a letter to the then Chairman of the CPs, Amb. Rubens Ricupero of Brazil, that "his earlier decision to treat his present mandate ... as final, remains irrevocable". He had also stressed then the need for a "smooth transition" and the selection of a successor before the termination of Dunkel's own contract at the end of 1992.

In conveying Dunkel's decision to the press, the GATT press officer, David Woods, had said that by making the decision Dunkel was "freeing his hands to put the strongest pressure on the processes of the (Uruguay) Round, that he will not be playing the ‘re-election game’... and placing himself in the best possible position to get results by the end of the year".

On that basis Dunkel also put forward in December 1991 his "Draft Final Act" - a package of proposals for concluding the Round. Though he did not specifically say so, it had been intended as a take-it-or-leave-it text. Even when the negotiations resumed early this year, Dunkel had been hoping for early conclusion, pinning his faith, as the other participants in the Round, on the U.S.-EC talks, and hopes that the EC summit at Lisbon and the Munich summit of the G7 would break the deadlock and enable early conclusion of the Round.

It is now clear that the deadlocked negotiations can seriously resume only after the U.S. elections in November (and if Bush wins his re-election) and could at best be brought to a successful conclusion only early in the new year.

Under the rules, the Director-General is to be appointed by the CONTRACTING PARTIES, and the Chairman of the CPs is required to hold consultations at least six months before expiry of the term.

The Chairman of the GATT Contracting Parties (CPs), Amb. Lars Anell of Sweden, started consultations a few weeks ago and is reported to have found consensus in favour of extending Dunkel's term till July end and is expected to convey this to the GATT Council on Tuesday. The subject is not on the agenda, and will presumably come up under "other business".