6:55 AM Jul 15, 1994


Geneva 15 July (TWN) -- GATT diplomats said Friday that they don't now expect a firm decision or recommendation to emerge this week on the headquarters of the World Trade Organization.

The Subcommittee of the WTO Preparatory Committee on Budgetary matters, chaired by the Chairman of the GATT Contracting Parties, Andres Szepesi, is due to meet Friday afternoon.

Szepesi has been holding consultations with individual and groups of delegations to find a consensus as between Geneva and Bonn.

While many GATT diplomats still believe that the WTO will remain in Geneva for a variety of reasons, they also note that the issue was no longer based on the 'merits' of the facilities and financial advantages offered by Switzerland and Germany.

The German Chancellor Helmut Kohl is said to have become involved. Whether there has been any understanding between him and President Clinton during the latter's visit this week to Germany is not clear. Any event, it does not seem to have percolated down.

Nor is it clear whether any US support to Germany in favour of Bonn as the WTO headquarters would necessarily tilt a decision in that direction.

As for Thursday night the United States would appear not to have indicated its position.

Until the actual moment of decision, most developing countries, which seem still to favour Geneva on balance, appear to be reluctant to publicly take a position.

They want to avoid bilateral political pressures.

Diplomats still hope that a decision could be reached at the meeting of the WTO Preparatory Committee set for 22 July.

A decision before the summer recess would give the secretariat to plan ahead, and it will also reduce the political elements in any decision-making on this issue, one diplomat notes.

But the desirable is not always the actual, the diplomat added.