Jul 7, 1987


GENEVA, JULY 3 (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) – The Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) of the Uruguay round laid down Friday the criteria and conditions under which international organisations would be able to attend formal meeting of the Uruguay round bodies and negotiating groups in the initial phase of the negotiations.

The conditions ensure that the representatives of the invited organisations use the information so obtained on a highly confidential basis solely for internal use of their secretariats, and that their attendance at such meetings would be for sole purpose of providing technical support that participants might seek.

The nature of the technical support is also to be confined to providing factual information and clarifications of matters concerning relevant instruments and activities of such organisations.

Also, the technical support is to be provided in a manner that would not affect negotiating positions of the participants.

Third world sources said the conditions were intended to ensure that international organisations do not use the "invitation" to inject their ideological or institutional views into the negotiations, or use the information to influence and change government policies in capitals.

"It is bad enough that we have to contend against U.S. lobbying in our capitals against our country interests, but it would be worse if we have to deal also with international organisations, some of whom have considerable leverage, and have faster communication channels to our capitals and policy makers", one junior diplomat said.

Along with these conditions, and applying what a GATT spokesman describe as "highly selective and strict criteria", the TNC agreed to the attendance at its meetings, and that of its two subordinate bodies – the Group of Negotiations on Goods (GNG) AND THE Group of Negotiations on Services (GNS) – of representatives from the UN, UNCTAD, World Bank and the IMF.

It also agreed on an even more selective basis presence of some of these and other institutions at formal meetings of the individual negotiating groups within the GATT MTNS.

The Customs Cooperation Council (CCC) was allowed to be present in the group on tariffs, non-tariffs, MTN agreements and arrangements (when valuation code is discussed), and on Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

UNCTAD was invited to be present at meetings of the group on non-tariff measures, TRIPS, and the group on functioning of the GATT system (FOGS).

WIPO was invited to be present at meetings of the TRIPS, and the FAO at meetings of the negotiating groups on agriculture and tropical products.

The IMF and World Bank were invited to be present at meetings of the FOGS and the group on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS), and the IMF alone in the group on GATT articles.

The decision, negotiated at several informal meetings of key countries, said that attendance of international organisations could facilitate the attainment of the objective of strengthening the inter-relationships between trade policies and other economic policies affecting trade and development.

Representatives of international organisations would hence be invited to attend formal meetings of negotiating bodies during the initial phase, and it was open to negotiating bodies "to recommend" attendance of other international organisations.

Laying the down the conditions for such attendance, the TNC said "since the negotiations are taking place among participants, the sole purpose of such attendance is to enable negotiating bodies to seek appropriate technical support in the field of expertise of these organisations, to complement the expertise primarily available from participants.

"This technical support", the TNC said, "might take the form of oral responses during the meetings to request through the chairman for factual information on and clarification of matters concerning the relevant instruments and activities of any such organisations, and factual papers to be prepared at the request of the body".

The rules of confidentiality of proceedings of negotiating bodies would also apply to the representatives invited, and the content of discussions and documents "would not be available for use outside international secretariats attending meetings".

"It is also understood that support by invited international organisations would be given in a manner which does not affect the negotiating positions of participants" and information obtained would be used solely for purpose of providing the technical support sought, the decision said.

The entire issue of "observes" from international organisations participating in the Uruguay round became controversial and contentious, particularly with the U.S. pushing for the World Bank and the IMF to attend meetings as observers and give their views.

Several third world and industrialised countries have been cool to the idea, viewing the entire negotiations and its processes as a confidential exercise involving only the contracting parties, with even the GATT secretariat having no role except to provide any technical support it might be asked to give.

Several third world countries have also been opposed to the World Bank and IMF participation, since they saw the role of these institutions as essentially pushing the viewpoints of the industrialised countries, and particularly the United States, and using their considerable leverage (through providing funds to third world countries now) to influence their positions and postures in these negotiations.

The Bank’s latest World Development Report (WDR) devoted to trade and trade-policy issues, published on July one but draft versions of which have been circulating with third world countries here for some weeks, appeared to have hardened some of their positions, and even irritated some GATT officials.

At the executive board of the World Bank (when the draft came up for consideration) some of these countries appear to have challenged the Bank staff views, and the published shows that in some small areas, such as on the global system of trade preferences (GSTP), the staff appears to have slightly modified their views and comments.

But the overall thrust, some of the third world delegations privately say, espouses is not only a neo-classical theoretical view of free trade, but one that ignores third world autonomous development viewpoints and pushes a view of benefit to TNCS and the U.S.

They note in this connection the views there against the virtually unanimous position of third world countries on the concept of special and differential treatment, or the opposition of many of them to dealing in GATT with "services" and "trade-related investment" issues.

Surprisingly, the report also suggest that it is the third world demand for and clinging to the special and differential treatment, and the generalised scheme of preferences (GSP) that has brought them "the Faustian bargain" of opening themselves up to discriminatory treatment and protectionist attacks in industrial countries.

Factually, the concept of special and differential treatment came in 1964 (after the third world disillusionment with the Dhillon and Kennedy rounds), and at the time of UNCTAD-I when GATT took parallel action to incorporate part IV in the general agreement.

It was only in 1968 that the GSP was called for by an UNCTAD decision, and schemes were put in place in early 1970’s.

The discriminatory protectionist actions against third world countries began much earlier. It started in 1961 with the short-term cotton textile agreement, soon replaces by the long-term agreement, and then by successive Multifibre Arrangements, each more restrictive and discriminatory than the earlier one.