Jun 10, 1991

TNC APPROVES NEW WORK PROGRAMME FOR URUGUAY ROUND.

GENEVA, 7 JUNE (BY CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) The Uruguay Round Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC), meeting at official-level, approved Friday what its chairman, Arthur Dunkel, a "result-oriented" work programme of negotiations for June and July.

Progress made in June and July in negotiating areas where "breakthroughs" had to be achieved, Dunkel told the TNC would enable them all to decide whether the negotiations could be concluded by end of the year.

The negotiations which collapsed at Brussels were restarted in February, but only in a formal sense, with negotiators marking time, in informal consultations and so-called "technical work", until the U.S. Congress approved extension of the Bush administration's fast-track authority for the negotiations.

In February, the TNC had made the decision to restart the negotiations subject to consultations and approval of formal negotiating structure. This was done on 25 April.

With the approval of the fast-track authority by the two houses of the U.S. Congress in end May, and after further consultations, Dunkel had put forward a schedule of meetings in some of the key negotiating areas and this was approved Friday at the TNC meeting, preceded by the meetings of the Group of Negotiations on Goods (GNG) and the Group of Negotiations on Services (GNS).

In putting forward the work programme, Dunkel said that since the April meeting of the TNC (which had approved the formal negotiating structures), there had been important developments which could only further strengthen the resolve of participating governments to accelerate the negotiating process and "conclude the Round expeditiously with a positive and balanced package of results".This was presumably a reference to the extension of the fast-track authority of the Bush administration and the efforts within the Community to find a way forward on the agriculture issue, with the EC reportedly conveying at the Paris OECD Ministerial meeting earlier this week that it would now be prepared to enter into specific commitments in each of the three areas of domestic support, border protection and export subsidy.

"We must, therefore, move forward as quickly and as constructive as possible", Dunkel told the TNC in the text of his remarks made available by the GATT press office.

"This is particularly important at this stage when we are poised for the final effort", he said. The months of June and July, he added, would be "an important testing period" and work would have to proceed in a "very focussed manner, concentrating as far as possible on the questions where negotiating breakthroughs have to be achieved".

Depending upon the progress achieved in the coming weeks, "we will be better able to judge our capacity to conclude the Round successfully by the end of this year - a target which more and more participants are beginning to see as feasible and desirable for different reasons".

The consultations he had held and the draft schedule he had put forward, Dunkel added, were in this context. The schedule provided for meetings of all the eight groups (seven in the area of goods negotiations and the eighth for services) during June-July, with the group on "Institutions" (dealing with Dispute Settlement, FOGs and Final Act) and remaining on call.

It would be up to each chairman and group to decide on the most effective allocation of time between formal and informal sessions and allowing flexibility for them to consult informally with delegations if needed. The schedule provided for meetings of no more than two groups at a time, in view of the manpower and other constraints within which delegations had to act.

On completion of the first series of meetings in June and July, he added, the TNC should meet to review progress and devise a negotiating strategy for the second half of the year.

According to the calendar approved, the groups on Rule Making and TRIMs are to meet on 10-12 June, the Market access group on 13-14 June, the GNS on 24-28 June and that on TRIPs 27-28.The Agriculture group, the key group for moving the negotiations forward, chaired by Arthur Dunkel is to meet in the week of 10 June and part of week of 17 June.

The meeting of the Textiles and Clothing group, also chaired by Dunkel, has been tentatively set for week of 24 June or 1 July.

A second round of meetings have also been set for the Market access group in the week of 15 July, for the GNS 15-19 July, for Rule Making and TRIMs for 22-26 July.

The TNC meeting is set for week of 29 July.