Feb 20, 1988
TNC MINISTERIAL MEETING IN MONTREAL WEEK OF DECEMBER 5.GENEVA, FEBRUARY 18 (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN)ó The Uruguay Round Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) will hold an "end of the year" meeting at Ministerial level in Montreal, Canada, in the week of December 5, a GATT spokesman announced Thursday.Spokesman David Woods made the announcement after a special meeting of the TNC chaired by Arthur Dunkel. The meeting itself lasted about 15 minutes, but its decision had been the subject of some intense consultations and negotiations among key countries over the last month or more. In his announcement Woods was careful to describe it as "end of the year meeting", and did not use the term "mid-term review" that the Americans and others had been talking about. Other GATT participations said the formula about the meeting and its description had been carefully negotiated in over a month of consultations, and reflected the viewpoints of the EEC as well as many of the third world countries who had serious reservations on the U.S. efforts to have a "mid-term review" or "early harvest". It also reflected reservations of the EEC and others over the fact that the Reagan Administration is on the way out, the U.S. Congress is yet to enact a new trade bill mandating the Administration to negotiate on a basis that would not give the Congress scope for adding amendments, and only a new administration could perhaps take a position on many of the issues. Woods himself said that Dunkel had drawn the attention of the TNC to the fact that the decision to hold a Ministerial meeting on the TNC at Montreal in week of December 5 would need some changes in decisions on the holding of the normal annual meeting of the GATT Contracting Parties already scheduled for November 28-30 in Geneva. Woods also said the actual dates of the Montreal TNC meeting, and agenda, etc., would have to be settled in due course, perhaps at the next meeting of the TNC, the regular half-yearly meeting, set for week of July 25. Woods said there would now have to be discussions "to change the dates or change the place" of the CPS meeting. Other GATT participants flatly denied this interpretation of the spokesman, and said the agreement in consultations that led to the TNCís decision Thursday, and the speech of the EEC representative, Amb. Tran Van Thinh made this clear. Even Dunkel himself, the participants noted, had said that the regular session of the CPS had been set for November 28, and "it may be necessary in due course to have a re-examination of the timing of the session". The idea, participants said, was intended to bring forward the meeting of the CPS, and not to schedule it after the TNC. According to several of the GATT participants, Tran told the TNC that the Community did not want to stand in the way of the consensus decision on the year-end Ministerial meeting of the TNC. As far as the regular session of the CPS was concerned, the Communityís position was that it should be held quite separately in the month of November and at the GATT headquarters in Geneva. Tranís statement in the TNC, participants said, was to leave no room for doubt, since in the consultations the U.S., Australia, Canada and others had sought a TNC meeting to be followed by a meeting of the CPS to incorporate the decisions of the TNC (which is not a GATT body) into the GATT system and framework. This had been opposed by EEC and some third world countries like India. Tran also stressed the EEC concept of globality and for a balance of every kind in the outcome of the negotiations. The "mid-term rendezvous" of Ministers, Tran said, would allow them to give political impulse and have a proper stock taking in respect of all subjects, including services. Israel reportedly had some reservations over the date of the TNC meeting, as its new government would be sworn in on those days. China said the Ministerial level TNC meeting would carry out a "mid-term review" and take stock of progress both in the Group of Negotiations in Goods (GNG) and the Group of Negotiations on Services (GNS). The meeting would also be able to identify the areas where early agreements could be achieved or negotiated within part one of the Punta del Este Ministerial declaration (dealing with GATT MTNS in goods), and particularly of those areas that would bring real benefit to the third world countries. Australia associated itself with the remarks of China, and that of Jamaica that the TNC itself had not GATT status. "If by some miracle there are some substantial results to adopt, we will need to consider how they could be brought into the GATT system (after the TNC meeting)", the Australian delegate Alan Oxley reportedly added.