Dec 1, 1987


GENEVA NOVEMBER 30 (IFDA) -- An informal meeting of a selected group of GATT Trade Ministers on Sunday appear to have tentatively agreed on the need for a mid-term review of the progress of the Uruguay round at a Ministerial meeting in second half of 1988.

The meeting was organised by Switzerland’s Federal Economy Minister, Jean-Pascal Delamuraz, and held at Lausanne.

Though a number of third world countries had been invited to attend the meeting, only two of them were present: Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Mahbub Ul Haq, and the Secretary-General of the Brazilian Foreign Office, Paulo Tarso Flecha de Lima.

Other third world countries invited reportedly excused themselves because of other engagements. However, it is know that third world countries are increasingly chary of such informal meetings where their presence is used merely to push through pre-arranged viewpoints of the U.S., EEC and Japan.

According to some sources close to the participants, there was a general understanding among participants that the mid-term review of the progress in the Uruguay Round, should be undertaken at a Ministerial meeting of the Uruguay Round trade Negotiations Committee (TNC). Vancouver in Canada, and November -December 1988, were reportedly suggested as the venue and time for the meeting.

No decisions could however be taken without the participation of the others, and particularly of the third world countries that did not attend the Lausanne meeting, GATT sources noted.

According to reports in Geneva Monday among GATT sources, the Lausanne meeting showed that even the U.S. was not now pushing its idea of "early harvest" – namely interim of provisional agreements in a few areas to be reached and implemented ahead of the conclusion of the Uruguay Round.

The U.S. has been seeking such "early harvest" in agriculture and services. But the EEC has been insisting on "globality", namely progress on all issues so that a package acceptable to all participants could emerge.

Some of the participants, like France, at the Lausanne meeting reportedly favoured an earlier mid-term review, perhaps in March-April next year, by when the U.S. Congressional action on the trade bill would have been taken, and the prospects of co-ordinated actions on monetary and financial issues, particularly the U.S. deficits and the dollar’s devaluation vis-à-vis other currencies would be clearer.

However, reportedly the U.S. did not favour this.

The Ministers from industrial countries who were present were from Australia, Canada, Denmark (representing EEC Council of Ministers), the EEC Commission (Willy De Clercq), FRG, France, Hungary, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, U.K., U.S., the GATT Director-General and the Swiss hosts.