Oct 17, 1986


GENEVA OCT. 15 (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) --Efforts at liberalising and expanding world trade in the Uruguay around need to be matched by concomitant efforts to improve market access through elimination or reduction of Restrictive Business Practices (RBPS), a high official of the UN Conference on Trade and Development suggested Wednesday.

The Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Alistain McIntyre, was opening the Fifth Session of the Inter-governmental Group of experts on RBPS, who are to review the implementation of "the set of multilaterally agreed equitable principles and rules for control of RBPS" (the set).

On the outstanding problem of the resumption of the review conference, which met in November 1985 buti broke up without an agreement, McIntyre disclosed that as a result of consultations with regional groups, it had now been recommended that the UN General Assembly should convene the next review conference in 1990.

McIntyre noted that because of increasing interdependence in the world economy and increasing overall competition in international trade, many enterprises in industrial countries had been seeking "temporary relief" from competition through safeguard mechanisms, while in may other sectors "grey area measures" (voluntary export restraints, orderly marketing arrangements, etc.) had proliferated.

Though these could be considered RBPS, they were on the border-line between inter-governmental agreements and enterprise-to-enterprise arrangements.

Practices which fell by definition outside the set, namely those under inter-governmental agreements or directly caused by them, fell within the purview of the set, the UNCTAD Official argued.

There were grounds for believing that enterprise-to-enterprise RBPS, falling under the scope of the set, where "a more wide-spread phenomenon", and there was concern about them both in industrial and third world countries.

The Uruguay round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations (MTNS) had been launched at Punta del Este "in a situation which has become increasingly adverse for developing countries, especially taking into account their pressing needs to reactivate development and to meet external obligations".

An objective of the Uruguay round was further liberalisation and expansion of world trade for benefit of all countries, particularly third world countries.

When the set was adopted, member-states had recognised the need to ensure that RBPS did not negate realization of benefits of trade liberalisation.

If this understanding still held true, there should be concomitant efforts to improve access to markets through elimination or reduction of RBPS so that what was gained in the new round was not lost elsewhere, McIntyre urged.

The UNCTAD Official also suggested a study by the group on the interaction of RBPS and trade policy.

In the international arena, control of RBPS required increased exchange of information and consultations among states.

UNCTAD could contribute to this process by collecting and disseminating relevant information, and proposed to develop for they purpose and information base on RBPS, McIntyre added.

The Deputy Director of the Manufactures Division of UNCTAD, T. Inomata, who also spoke at the meeting, said in providing information on implementation by them BFI the set, governments should provide more specific information on the "steps taken" by them to meet their commitments to the set.

Member-states, Inomata pointed out, were expected under the set not only to take steps to control RBPS internally in accordance with their existing domestic legislation, but also to provide information on specific actions taken by them to control RBPS "having or being likely to have adverse effects on international trade, particularly that of developing countries, and on the economic development of these countries".

In the information provided by governments annually, in response to the Secretariat inquiries, there should be "more explicit references" to the actions taken at legislative or enforcement level in line whit the basic objectives of the set, Inomata said.

The information, he added, should include: revision of existing laws to ensure compliance with the set, possible amendments to legislation being intended to bring it in line with the objectives, holding of national meetings with business community to explain to them what they were expected to do to comply with the set, exchange of information with other RBPs control authorities in other countries, and consultations between countries on questions relating to control of RBPS.