8:53 AM Jul 20, 1994


Geneva 19 July (TWN) -- GATT delegations have agreed to keep the headquarters of the World Trade Organization at Geneva, but will formalise their recommendations on Friday when the Preparatory Committee of the WTO will meet.

The nod in favour of Geneva, ending a four-month old tussle between Germany and Switzerland, came Tuesday evening at the meeting of the Sub-Committee on Administrative, budgetary and financial matters, chaired by the Chairman of the GATT CPS Andres Szepesi of Hungary.

Szepesi told the Sub-Committee that in his consultations more than 90 percent of delegations had indicated their views on the choice between Geneva and Bonn and that the outcome was clearly in favour of Geneva as the headquarters of the WTO.

Delegations, he said, favoured Geneva over Bonn for two reasons:

There was the recognition that GATT and WIPO would need to work closely with other international organizations in Geneva, like the World Intellectual Property Organization and the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

Also, everyone agreed that the transition from the GATT to the WTO should be as smooth as possible for everyone and the choice between Geneva and Bonn should not become a political battle.

On this basis Szepesi said he would recommend the adoption by consensus of Geneva as the WTO headquarters.

However, he said, no decision need by taken immediately, and that the Sub-Committee could meet Friday, just before the WTO Preparatory Committee to take a formal decision.

Before the next meeting, he suggested, delegations which had not yet made up their minds should indicate their views to him.

After Friday's endorsement, a small committee of ten members representing the secretariat, officers of the CPs and regional groupings is expected to be named to discuss and settle with the Swiss the details of the headquarters agreement to be signed between the two.

There was no objection to Szepesi's report and recommendation, participants said. However, a number of delegations took the floor to praise Germany for its offer.

Many delegates privately said that it was the German offer that enabled the Geneva diplomatic community to press the Swiss authorities and remove many of their long-standing grievances relating to Swiss host-country practices which were contrary to the Vienna protocols.