4:56 AM Jun 22, 1994


Geneva 22 Jun (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The United States voiced in the GATT Council Tuesday its concern that the impending enlargement of the European Union through the accession of Austria, Finland, Norway and Sweden could impair the rights and benefits granted by these countries to the United States.

The accession terms have been negotiated, and subject to approval in popular referenda (Austrian voters have already done so), the enlargement is due to be in place from January 1995.

At issue for the United States is the rights and benefits to it in terms of the current GATT schedules of these four, as well as the schedules under the Uruguay Round agreements, annexed in country schedules to the Marrakesh World Trade Organization Agreement.

The US sought immediate start of a process of consultations under Art. XXVIII of the General Agreement (re-negotiation for modification of schedules) in view of the limited time available.

The US, which raised the issue under any other business, also said that it would be seeking the establishment of a working party to examine the GATT consistency of the enlarged EU agreements.

In other items mentioned, Brazil expressed concern over the US subsidized exports of poultry to the Middle East (Gulf States) and said the US was subsidising upto $808.20 per metric tonne, causing extensive damage to Brazil's trading interests in this traditional market for its poultry exports.

Argentina raised the EU restrictions on exports of lemon, and sought Art XXIII consultations, the preliminary step towards raising a dispute. Australia, Brazil and Uruguay shared these concerned.

Canada was concerns over French labelling requirements for Scallops, and sought actions by the European Union to ensure Canadian access to the EU/French markets. Canada said consultations had been held in 1993 and again in 1994. The French government had published a temporary order, for labelling in a manner acceptable to Canada, which would last until December 1995. However a new notification had now been made effective 1 July which would again harm Canadian scallop exports.

Earlier, the Council agreed to grant of observer status to Uzbekistan, bringing the number of countries enjoying observer status to 42. With Uzbekistan, all the former Soviet Republics except Georgia and Tajikistan are enjoying observer status.

Australia again brought up the Canadian safeguard actions on boneless beef and expressed its concern. Australia has been bringing up this issue for a year or more now.

The EU supported Australian concerns, while Canada merely noted that Australia was participating in a voluntary export restraint arrangement over its similar exports to the United States.

On the banana issue, the report of the second panel ruling against the EU single-market regime in bananas, Guatamela raised the issue on its own behalf and that of Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico and Panama, and complained that they were in the same situation as in June 1992 when the complaint was first raised. The EU did not even make any comment and the Council will remain seized of this issue.

Under an item relating to monitoring of implementation of panel reports, Canada brought up the tardy pace of implementation in the United States of the second beer panel report, adopted in May 1993, which held many of the practices and levies by a large number of States laws, discriminating between domestic and foreign beer, to be GATT illegal. Canada complained that so far only eleven of the States had acted to comply, with Mississippi being the latest.

The EU also expressed similar concern.

Brazil brought up the non-implementation so far by the US of the panel ruling against US on the MFN treatment of non-rubber footwear imported from Brazil, but noted that the US authorities had indicated they might be nearing a solution for implementation.

Canada, speaking on an item relating to third party participation in panels, complained over the breach of confidentiality involved in the United States release in Washington of the report of the second tuna panel, which had been provided to the two sides on 20 May (as is customary practice in the GATT) before its finalisation and circulation to the Contracting Parties. Canada also complained that the US had also released the third party pleadings (that of Canada and others) before the panel, which are normally only summarised in the panel report, but not made available to others.

Canada also raised the breach of confidentiality involved in one of the panellists discussing the report and its merits with non-government groups, again ahead of its finalisation and de-restriction.

Though Canada did not mention any names, the reference was to Amb. Winfried Lang of Austria who was a member of that panel.

The second tuna panel had been headed by Amb. George Maciel of Brazil. Earlier reports in the SUNS had wrongly identified Lang as the Chairman of that panel.

Canada said both the issue of confidentiality and a code of conduct for panellists perhaps merited examination. The European Union and Norway supported this.

The United States, in the WTO subcommittee on legal and institutional questions, last week had broached the code of conduct for panellists -- though it had in mind panellists having shares and other interests in enterprises that would be affected by the panel decisions in any dispute. The US itself did not elaborate, but others got the impression that the US was concerned over services trades, particularly financial services, and likely future disputes.