Oct 29, 1986


GENEVA OCT. 27 (IFDA/CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) -- The Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC), set up by the Ministerial Declaration at Punta del Este for the conduct of the Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations, held its first meeting Monday.

The Uruguay Foreign Minister, Enrique Iglesias, who chaired the Punta del Este meeting, was in the chair.

The TNC accepted a compromise package of proposals from the EEC's representative, Amb. Tran Van Thinh, for the organisation of the TNC, and the two subsidiary bodies envisaged for the Uruguay Round - the group of negotiations on goods (GNG) in GATT, and the group of negotiations on services (GNS), outside GATT.

The proposals by the EEC had been worked out in elaborate consultations over the last two weeks here, and are aimed at ensuring the legally separate negotiations on goods and services.

The organisational structure proposed was in accordance with the format of the declaration which launched the Uruguay Round of MTNS as "a single political undertaking", on the basis of three decisions: a decision on trade in goods by the GATT Contracting Parties, a decision on trade in services by Ministers as representatives of Governments, and the adoption of the Punta del Este declaration as a whole by Ministers meeting on the occasion of the special session of the Contracting Parties.

Reflecting this, the TNC agreed today that Enrique Iglesias would chair Ministerial level meetings of the TNC, the body charged with carrying out the Uruguay round MTNS.

It was also agreed that the TNC could meet at the level of officials, and on such occasions it would be chaired by Arthur Dunkel (in his personal capacity).

The GNG would be chaired by the GATT Director-General, Arthur Dunkel, and the GNS would be chaired by Amb. Felipe Jaramillo of Colombia.

The Secretariat also announced that as a result of consultations, the documentations for the various bodies would be issued under their titles, and not under that of the "General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade". The documents of the TNC would carry the symbol "MTN/TNC", that of the GNG "MTN/GNG (GATT)", and those of the GNS "MTN/GNS".

In accepting the chairmanship, Iglesias is reported to have said that, because of his own commitments as Foreign Minister, he could agree to chair ministerial level meetings only till the end of the firs Ministerial meeting of the TNC.

No date has been set for this. The Uruguay round itself is set to be completed in four years.

Iglesias also is reported to have expressed the hope monday that the various negotiating groups would now go ahead with the negotiations on various issues on the basis of the political and technical basis laid out for them in the Punta del Este declaration and decisions of Ministers.

On the issue of setting up an adequate surveillance mechanism for the overseeing of the standstill and rollback commitments undertaken at Punta del Este, the TNC Monday noted various ideas in this regard and agreed on further consultations.

The ideas put forward by Iglesias called for the GNG to set up the mechanism for multilateral surveillance of the commitments, including periodic reviews and evaluations, as well as consideration of notifications to the GATT Secretariat from members on actions or omissions relevant to these commitments.

The multilateral surveillance mechanism is to provide periodic reports to the GATT Contracting Parties, to the GNG, and to the TNC, which would review and evaluate the implementation of the commitments as called for in the Punta del Este declaration.

It had originally been hoped that the TNC would be able to decide on this on the basis of compromise proposals that had been tentatively agreed upon. However, the U.S. which itself suggested the compromise ideas, would appear to have been unable to give its agreement.

It was not clear to participants Monday whether it was merely inability of the U.S. delegation here to get Washington's clearance in time, or something else.

The TNC also put off a decision, pending further consultations, on the question of granting observer status for international organisations at the sessions of the TNC.

A number of International Organisations have sought such status, most of them informally, but a formal one has come from the world intellectual property organisation, according to GATT sources.

Immediately, after the meeting of the TNC; the GNG and the GNS both held successively brief meetings.

The next meeting of the GNG is to be held on November 7, when a decision is to be taken on the setting up of the negotiating groups to carry out the negotiations on various issues included in the field of trade in goods.

There are two sets of proposals, one by Sweden for setting up nine negotiating groups, and the other by Jamaica for seven, with what the chairman called "considerable common ground" between them.

The basic difference between the two however relates to the U.S. demand for separate groups on intellectual property and investment issues (found in the Swedish proposal), and insistence of several third world countries that if there is to be such separate group, there should be a separate one on textiles and clothing too. This latter is opposed by the U.S.

The Jamaican proposal puts the U.S. issues under the group dealing with GATT articles, and the textiles one with the group on market access, with a provision that sub-groups could be formed for each of these as negotiations develop - the intention presumably being that such sub-groups would be formed simultaneously.

Under the Punta del Este decision, the GNG has to put into effect detailed negotiating plans prior to December 19.

At the meeting of the GNS, Amb. Jaramillo indicated that he would undertake further consultations on the sub-groups to be set up, the question of participation of observers, and the technical support for the negotiations from various international organisations.

The Punta del Este decision on services has provided for secretariat support from the GATT Secretariat, and technical support from other organisations as decided by the GNS.

The next meeting of the GNS is to be held on November 18.