Feb 2, 1988

U.S. TO ACCEPT PANEL RULINGS ON USER FEES AND SUPERFUND

GENEVA JANUARY 29 (IFDA) The U.S. Trade Representative, Clayton Yeutter said Friday that the U.S. had accepted both the GATT panel reports on the superfund levy and on customs user fees, and would allow the GATT council to adopt them next week.

At a press conference, Yeutter said either the U.S. would change its laws to implement the reports or, if it were not possible, offer compensation to its trade partners.

On the superfund levy for environmental cleanup, where the U.S. Congress has mandated a higher fees on imported petroleum and products than on domestic, and which the panel held violated GATT obligations, Yeutter said the Administration was consulting Congress whether it was ready to change the law.

The Administration had not had response so far from the trade committees in the two houses.

If Congress agreed there was nothing further to be done. If they did not, the Administration would consult with its partners on the compensation.

On the customs user fees, the Administration was preparing legislation to correct shortcomings pointed out in the GATT panel ruling against U.S..

Corrective legislation would be introduced in the U.S. Congress in the next few weeks, Yeutter added.

Earlier, Yeutter expressed satisfaction at the progress so far in the Uruguay round negotiations, but cautioned against any euphoria since the hardest part of the negotiations was still ahead of them.

James Robinson, Chief Executive Officer of the American Express and chairman of the Private Sector Advisory Group on Trade Negotiations, felt that major progress had been made on the "services" issue, when the present situation was compared to that at the time of the 1982 GATT Ministerial meeting.

Robinson said that a framework should be quickly established to prevent barriers going up.

Asked whether this would not amount to third world countries not having barriers or regulatory frameworks carrying out "fullest liberalisation now", while industrial countries who had built up regulatory barriers over 4-5 decades negotiating liberalisation in the future, Robinson claimed that third world countries too had barriers now in insurance, banking etc.

Yeutter underscored "trade off" as an essential part of the Uruguay round, and said if third world countries expected to achieve market openings in industrial countries they had to open up their markets too, and one of the areas would have to be services.

Yeutter said that agriculture negotiations would probably be the toughest, since it was politically sensitive on a global basis, and very complex. At the same time GATT members had now an opportunity to achieve in agriculture what had not been done in the entire GATT history.

It was in the interest of the EEC and the U.S. to bring down subsidies. Failure to discipline would increase budget costs of support for everyone, he declared.

"If we are unable to achieve major reforms in agriculture in the Uruguay round, we will proceed to other courses of action", Yeutter added.