Jun 23, 1988

"ROLLBACK COMMITMENT HAS BEEN A FAILURE".

GENEVA, JUNE 21 (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) -- The general failure to honour and implement the rollback commitments undertaken at Punta del Este were reportedly underscored Tuesday at the meeting of the Uruguay Round Surveillance Body, which monitors the implementation of the standstill and rollback commitments.

GATT spokesman, David Woods, told newsmen Tuesday, in response to requires, that the Secretariat had received no notifications so far of any rollbacks undertaken by GATT Contracting Parties nor of "undertakings" for rollback resulting from the consultations envisaged under the negotiating plan approved by the trade negotiations committee in February 1987.

"The rollback has been a failure"; the spokesman conceded when pressed further by newsmen.

GATT Contracting Parties in launching the Uruguay round GATT MTNS undertook some specific rollback commitments at Punta del Este.

They agreed that all trade restrictive or distorting measures inconsistent with the GATT or instruments negotiated within GATT framework or under its auspices "shall be phased out or brought into conformity".

Such rollback, it was further agreed, should be within an agreed timeframe not later than the date of the formal completition of the negotiations.

The Punta del Este declaration also provided that "there shall be no GATT concessions requested for elimination of these measures".

The negotiating plan adopted in February 1987 called for notifications of measures subject to rollback and consultations among the parties concerned (countries maintaining the measures and those whose exports are restrained).

It was envisaged that the consultations should result in rollback undertakings, and notifications to the GATT secretariat of any undertakings resulting from such consultations.

It was further envisaged that rollback undertakings resulting from the first round of consultations of GATT inconsistent measures should be notified by December 31, 1987.

GATT spokesman said that no such notifications had been received by the GATT Secretariat.

At the Surveillance Body meeting Tuesday, Brazil proposed some target dates to secure "effective implementation of the rollback commitment".

Under this time-table, Brazil suggested that:

--To the extent possible, participants will present communications containing their rollback requests by July 31, 1988,

--If possible offers on rollback should be communicated to the Surveillance Body by July 31, it being understood that "offers" would not constitute an acknowledgement that measures concerned were inconsistent with GATT,

--Consultations on these requests will start by August 31, if possible,

--Rollback undertakings resulting from these consultations will be notified to the Surveillance Body by October 15.

If no undertakings were forthcoming, the reasons for this should also be stated, Brazilís proposal further said.

The Surveillance Body should meet between October 15 and end of November to review the situation and take any action necessary to ensure that the Ministerial commitments were implemented.

In the discussions on the proposal, some of the participants argued that the target dates were "unrealistic", and in any event the Punta del Este declaration had envisaged completion of rollback only by the time the Uruguay round MTNS was completed.

However a number of others supported the Brazilian proposal and underscored the need for implementation of the standstill and rollback commitments if GATT and the MTNS were to have any credibility.

According to the GATT spokesman, the chairman of the Surveillance Body, GATT Deputy Director-General, M.G. Mathur, in summing up the deliberations had said that while the Surveillance Body had been unable to agree on the specific suggestions of the Brazilian delegation, "the discussions indicated a widely shared concern over the need to achieve convincing progress in the implementation of the rollback commitments before the Ministerial level Meeting of the TNC in December".