Nov 8, 1991


GENEVA, NOVEMBER 7 (CHAKRAVARTHI RAGHAVAN) The Uruguay Round Trade Negotiation Committee at a brief official-level meeting Thursday heard an assessment from its chairman, GATT Director-General Arthur Dunkel about the state of play in the negotiations and agreed to his proposals for a "negotiating strategy".

Dunkel is due to address a press conference later in the day.

The development came even as the U.S. and EC were making major efforts to reach an understanding among themselves. The U.S. Agriculture Secretary and the EC Agriculture Commissioner were due to meet in Brussels Thursday, one day earlier than scheduled.

The U.S. and EC are also due to hold a summit meeting at The Hague on Saturday, amidst contrary reports whether it will be a "negotiating session" to clinch issues or would merely have some more general conclusions about concluding the Round.

Reports from Brussels suggest that the EC compromise would involve its direct support to farmers being classified as non-actionable subsidy and put into a "green box".

If this also done for the U.S. payments, it might help the two to "legitimise" their support programmes. And since, no developing country is in a position to undertake similar direct budgetary payments (even if they are willing, the World Bank/IMF conditionalities and structural adjustment programmes would veto it), the two major trading partners may be able, in fact, agree upon a market sharing arrangement in which Third World countries would not be able to compete on an equal footing.

In an oral statement, supplemented by a detailed note issued as a TNC document, Dunkel set out in his presentation, as he put it "to bring back our negotiating process to its basic aims" and setting out an "annotated negotiating agenda for the final sprint".

In terms of strategy, he said the seven chairmen would be conducting simultaneous negotiations in the GATT building from 11 November in order to establish agreed texts in individual areas.

By the end of November, and on the understanding that nothing would be final until everything was agreed, "we must be in a position to consider in the TNC the results achieved across the board", he said.

The chairman of the informal group of developing countries, Amb. Benhima of Morocco made a statement, on lines of what he had been mandated to do at the informal group meeting tuesday.