Jun 30, 1987


GENEVA JUNE 29 (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN)) -- Negotiators in the Uruguay Round GATT MTNS appear to feel that while they themselves were making progress in the initial phase of their negotiations, protectionist measures and other negative trade policy developments in real world outside may make them irrelevant.

This fairly widespread concern is reported to have been expressed by several delegates at the meeting of the Uruguay Round group of negotiations on goods (GNG) which met last Friday to take stock of progress in the second round of meetings in the various negotiating groups.

The GNG reportedly approved the calendar of meetings for the various negotiating groups for the third round which is due to start Monday with the meeting of the Group on Tariffs. Other groups to meet this week and those on non-tariff measures, natural resource-based products, and textiles and clothing.

The groups on tropical products and agricultures are also due to meet in the first and second weeks on July, when negotiators will take a recess, for UNCTAD-VII and the august summer vacations, to meet again in September.

At the end of the third round, the GNG is to meet and make an overall assessment before agreeing to the calendar for the fourth round of meetings that could begin in October.

At EEC's insistence, the various negotiating groups were reportedly instructed at end of their meetings in the third round, to make an assessment of the number of further meetings they would need between October 9 and December 32, to enable them to complete their work.

This implies that the groups should not on their own (as they have been doing in the second round) to fix their own calendar of meetings for their next round of meetings.

The EEC has been insisting on the GNG's overall supervisory role in this and other matters and on Friday reportedly underscored its view on the need for balanced and parallel progress in all the negotiating groups - a point intended to suggest that it would not agree to acceleration of negotiations in agriculture while work in others are held up.

At Friday's meeting while the negotiating groups reported satisfactory progress, a number of delegates contrasted the situation inside GATT with the actual situation outside in the trade policy and international trade arena.

India reportedly underscored the "stark contrast" between the real world outside and the world of negotiators inside.

"We should not behave as if we are in a dark room, with no windows to the outside world", the EEC negotiator Tran Van-Thinh reportedly remarked, in supporting the Indian assessment.

Yugoslavia reportedly said that "self-congratulations inside" should be tempered by focusing on the impact all these were or were not having outside.

Jamaica is reported to have referred to the increasing protectionist and other measures, as well as the worsening of fiscal and monetary situations including the debt crisis of the third world, all of which had negative impacts on the Uruguay Round.

Other speakers reportedly noted that a major point made for launching the new round was that it would help stem protectionist pressures and help governments resist it.

This had not happened and on the contrary, there had been a rise in protectionist pressures and governments had been yielding to them.

Grey area measures had continued to proliferate, with 116 measures in place since the launching of the Uruguay Round, compared to 93 in the previous six months.

A recent GATT Secretariat report to the GATT Council had noted that the term "grey area" measures was itself a misnomer, since many of the measures like voluntary export restraints or orderly marketing arrangements "contravene GATT provisions".

Yugoslavia is reportedly underscored in this connection the commitment to standstill and rollback, and said that unless this was observed and fulfilled, it would jeopardise the MTNS.

Tran reportedly referred in this connection to the developments in the U.S., and the trade legislation on the anvil there, and said that decisions taken in the Congress in the next couple of months could well result in the Uruguay Round Negotiating processes "redundant and unnecessary".

Participants said that the U.S. delegate, Amb. Samuels did not react or make any comment, but merely expressed satisfaction with the progress in the various negotiating groups and urged them to continue that way.

The GNG was unable to take a decision on the issue of observers in various negotiating groups and their rights, and put off a decision to this week's meeting of the trade negotiating committee, the overall political body supervising the separate negotiations on goods and in services.