Nov 14, 1988


GENEVA, NOVEMBER 10 (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN)ó GATT Director-General Arthur Dunkel gave an upbeat view thursday of the Uruguay round negotiating processes and envisaged agreements at Montreal in some areas like tropical products, agriculture, services and TRIPS, as also on dispute settlement and Ministerial involvement in GATT.

Addressing a press conference, three days after he got a fourth three-year term, Dunkel said in services "there will be a general agreement on trade in services, and this work will be similar to what our predecessors did at Havana".

And at Montreal, Dunkel added, either "some of the elements of this agreement will be nailed down or a definite orientation given to the process to enable U.S. to have these principles nailed down".

On the Uruguay round as a whole, Dunkel said the group of negotiations on goods meeting next week, should prepare the ground to enable the ministers to review the work done up to now and see that the ground covered was recognised and accepted, and not reopened, and "a non-reversible situation achieved."

The GNG, he said, should also supply Ministers the basis to approve agreements that could be implemented at this stage of the negotiations, and provide a political impetus and orientation for the second phase of negotiations.

In the next couple of weeks (leading to Montreal) "we have to decide what can be concluded validly at Montreal, what will take more time and technical details, and what are the points on which political positions will have to be taken".

Over and above all these remained the fundamental question about "globality" in negotiations, and "it is necessary that each participant will find in the negotiations, elements which accrue to its interests - the most difficult challenge for Ministers."

At present, Dunkel said, "positions are hardening, but that is evidence we are in the full swing of negotiations."

While underscoring his role as neutral chairman of the GNG and of official level meetings of the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC), Dunkel outlined to newsmen what he thought negotiators and governments should do now, and at Montreal, to produce a package of agreements and provide orientations to the future.

But Dunkelís views - both in the subjects he mentioned and possible agreements on them, as well as those which he did not touch upon at all - seemed in many respects to come close to what the U.S. and EEC negotiators have been saying and pushing for.

He mentioned tropical products, agriculture, dispute settlement, functioning of the GATT system, trade-related intellectual property rights and services, and somewhat en passant tariffs.

He also spoke of third world countries becoming "more equal partners" within the trading system, and envisaged, at the end of the Uruguay round, commitments being the same for all but with differing time periods to achieve it.

But he did not refer at all for example to textiles and safeguards - the former a regime of managed trade and departure from GATT where the U.S. and EEC are unwilling to set a timeframe for end to the MFA, and the latter an area where GATTís fundamental rules are sought to be reversed through an agreement permitting "selectivity" or discrimination into managed trade.

Dunkel expected at Montreal agreement to translate into legal agreement some of the improvements brought about in procedures for dispute settlement, and for Ministers participating in sessions of GATT contracting parties, thus bringing GATT on par with the Bretton Woods Institutions.

There would also be some improvements in the regime for tropical products, with access improved in the industrial country markets.

In agriculture Dunkel thought governments should have the "wisdom" to agree on a number of short-term measures that could contribute to put some order in the agricultural trade sector, and bring precision to bear on was being aimed at for the long term.

Also, the Ministers should give their backing and blessings for on-going work in formulating instruments to enable comparison of agricultural support in various countries, as well as on the technical issues of phyto-sanitary measures.

In services, he said, discussions were taking place with the aim of reaching an understanding an the concepts that should underlie a framework agreement on services, coverage of sectors and the kind of transactions, and how to embody in the framework the concept of contribution of service activities to the development process.

This was the only substantive reference to development that Dunkel made at his one-hour press conference, apart from his references to stages of development, in lending oblique support to the graduation theories.

Asked whether he thought the principle of special and differential treatment was in danger in the Uruguay round, as was stated by several delegations at the session of the CPS, Dunkel noted that in the Tokyo round the negotiations to find global solutions were mainly amongst a group of industrialised countries and a few third world countries, and at the end when proposals were put on the table third world countries asked for s and d treatment.

Now in the Uruguay round the situation was different and third world countries were actively engaged in finding global solutions, though this did not mean that countries were not in different stages of development.

But unlike the Tokyo round where s and d was an end note, in the Uruguay round "we are trying to take note of the different stages of development in seeking global solutions", Dunkel claimed - in effect contradicting the complaints of a large number of third world countries at the CPS session that the mandate in the Punta del Este declaration of special and differential treatment to the third world was being ignored.

At the end, Dunkel suggested, the enforcement of commitments would be the same on all participants, but that "some of them at different levels of development will have a much longer period the least developed as compared to most developed."

He referred in this connection to the cairns group proposals that its disciplines on domestic support for agriculture should provide for a longer time frame for third world countries to comply.

Dunkel also noted that "development" had been included in the very mandate on services.

"But with the passage of time certain developing countries have reached levels of economic development where they are now surpassing... some of the developing countries surpass some EEC members - for example Greece, Portugal and Spain."

Asked about the issue of "linkages" among negotiating groups, Dunkel told the newsmen to put themselves in the position of the Malaysian Minister who needed to go back from Montreal with agreement on tropical products and agriculture, and the U.S. trade

Representative, Clayton Yeutter, who needed agreements an agriculture, services and intellectual property.

Dunkel also referred to Australians interest in agriculture, but also in services. He also noted that Brazil was the 8th leading country in industrial output and thus had the same wide range of interests as the United States.

When one talked of linkages, one would look for coalitions, and into the kind of package needed at Montreal for "a very diversified group of participants", he added.