8:28 AM Mar 4, 1994


Geneva 4 Mar (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The verification of market access draft final schedules of participants in the Uruguay Round began at the GATT Friday with discussion on the procedures to be followed and the scrutiny of 12 smaller trading nations.

The 12 were Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Cote d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Gabon, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Macau, New Zealand, Romania, Senegal and South Africa.

The verification of the scheule of the Quad (US, EC, Canada and Japan) is due to be taken up on Tuesday when some of the controversies relating to the US withdrawal of what the others had viewed as 'final offers' at the conclusion of the Round.

According to the time-table set at the 15 December meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee concluding the negotiations, participants had been given time till 15 February to file their draft schedules, and for a process of verification of the draft schedules, before their acceptance and annexing to the Final Act, to be completed by 25 March.

But the US delayed the process by not filing its schedule until 25 Feb.

The US schedules were filed on 25 February, with other participants being supplied with data on computer discs and the document.

Several of the participants have been complaining that by reclassifying the various product categories and descriptions, the US had made it difficult for others to quickly undertake an analysis or compare it with the various 'offers' it had put forward last year.

And because of the disputes surrounding the US schedule, its withdrawal of what it claims to be 'conditional offers' of 15 December, a number of others have not yet submitted their own schedules.

According to some GATT sources, Japan and the EC, in filing schedules according to the final offers they had put forward on 14 December, have made clear that this was conditional on their understanding of the US final offers and in effect retaining the right to reconsider their schedules in the light of the actual US schedules.

At the Friday meeting, chaired by GATT Deputy Director-General Anwar Hoda, stressed that the verification process would need to be completed by 15 March to avoid a major risk in terms of planning for the Marrakesh Ministerial meeting and ensuring its smooth progress.

Draft schedules had been received from about 38 participants, while another 15 had submitted schedules which were however either incomplete or not in the specified format. Excluding the least developed countries (who have a year to file their schedules), 35 more countries were yet to file their schedules.

Only in the case of the schedules submitted latest by 11 March, Hoda said, could the verification process be completed.

(Those whose schedules are not verified and annexed to the Final Act would be unable to become original members of the WTO, and would have to await its entry and in a sense 'negotiate' their accession).