Jun 14, 1988


GENEVA, JUNE 13 (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) -- The Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations (MTNS) and its implications for the countries of the south were reportedly discussed here over the weekend by a sub-commission of the South Commission.

The commissioners met with a representative group of GATT negotiators from the third world countries.

The meeting chaired by Mr. Julius Nyerere is in preparation for the third meeting of the Commission at Cocoyox near Mexico City from August 5 to 8.

The Uruguay round MTNS is one of the issues on the Commission’s agenda for that meeting and the Commission is expected to issue a statement on the round and the issues figuring on its agenda.

At its weekend meeting here the sub-commission reportedly discussed the implications of the various issues on the agenda of the round, particularly the new themes – "services", "trade-related intellectual property rights" and "trade-related investment measures" – and several of the old and traditional GATT issues including trade in agriculture.

The meeting also discussed some of the systemic issues on the agenda like proposals for amending the general agreement like the provisions relating to Balance-Of Payments measures by the third world countries and proposals to bring about changes in the Functioning Of the GATT System (FOGS) that would increase control over third world economies by the IMF/World Bank/GATT Institutions and Philosophies.

According to some of the participants, the discussions brought out that while each of the issues on the agenda have important implications for the countries of the south, the implications of the round as a whole was greater than the sum of its parts and represented an attempt on the part of the major countries of the north to use GATT to rewrite the international economic relations and rules within the framework of the IMF/World Bank/GATT Philosophy.

Many third world observers are concerned that if the north’s efforts centered in GATT are successful, the outcome would be to the detriment of the third world, its development prospects, and its strivings for a new international economic order based on equity and justice.

Also while the major northern centres are frequently meeting and coordinating their policies, apart from the general coordination through the OECD, and selected third world countries meet with their northern counterparts, the third world countries as a whole have not considered the Uruguay round issues among themselves.

At its Mexico City meeting, the South Commission is expected to consider the Uruguay round MTNS from this perspective and address the governments of the south on the need to look at the round from these wider perspectives – political, economic and social – and not merely from the narrow trade perspectives brought to bear on GATT activities in countries.

The Commission is also expected to underscore in this context the need for broad unity and coordination among third world participants in the round face what is basically an onslaught on the south by the north, with significant demands on the south from the north.

The need for third world coordination and mechanisms for it in these and other areas was referred to by chairman Nyerere at a reception he gave to the delegates of the group of seventy-seven in Geneva on Friday evening at the new premises of the South Commission.

Addressing the diplomats, Nyerere noted that the Group of 77, like the south, was permanent, unlike the South Commission, which had set itself a time-span of three years.

While the countries of the south in their regional and sub-regional bodies and at inter-regional levels all showed a desire to work together, coordination had been a problem, he said.

The north, he noted, was much bettered organised in the OECD in its dealing with the south, even though they did not need it.

"We hope in these three years we will revive in a much more practical manner the need of the south to work together in facing the north and in cooperating with each other. By the time we have completed our work, I hope we can demonstrated that even a small Secretariat is better than no Secretariat at all".