Oct 31, 1986


GENEVA OCTOBER 29 (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) -- Forty-seven countries, members of the Group of 77, have notifies their intention to participate in the first round of negotiations for a Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP), according to information provided Wednesday to the GSTP negotiating committee.

Committee sources said that of the 47, 15 were from Africa, 14 for Asia, and 18 from Latin America. All these have sent the committee notification of their intention to participate in the firs round, as called for by the Brazilian Ministerial Declaration of May 1986.

All of them have to provide "request lists" - list of products on which they seek trade concessions from other participants - before December 31, 1986.

The GSTP negotiating committee which met in private Wednesday morning, under the chairmanship of Amb. Paulo Nogueira Batista of Brazil, is reported to have reviewed the plan of technical assistance to be provided to participating countries in the conduct of negotiations.

It also heard progress reports from its two working groups - one dealing with definitions and scope of components of the GSTP, and the other with rules of origin.

The committee elected a new Bureau for the next six month, with Sudan's Amb. Abdel Magied Ali Hassan as the new Chairman.

the other members of the Bureau elected are: the Representatives of Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay and Venezuela (from Latin America), Egypt and Nigeria (from Africa), and Philippines, Oman, India and Yugoslavia (from Asia).

Sri Lanka, which is chairing the working group on rules of origin would also be associated with the Bureau.

On the question of China's request to join the GSTP negotiations, further consultations are to be held within the Bureau before it is brought up before the committee.

The G77 Foreign Ministers, at their meeting in New York in september, referred the issue to the GSTP negotiating committee, asking them to study the matter and report to the sixth ministerial meeting of the Group of 77 prior to UNCTAD-VII.

The issue came up under other business before the committee.

Four of five countries are reported to have supported China's participation, while Qatar reminded the committee that under the rules and the draft framework agreement, participation was limited to members of the Group of 77.

Qatar's remarks would appear to be reflecting the viewpoints of the Arab members, who reportedly considered the issue this week and agreed that while they had nothing against China, participation in the GSTP should be limited to G77 members.

This view has been influenced by the fact that besides China, three other non-G77 countries have so far sought participation in the GSTP - Bulgaria, Israel and Turkey.