9:41 AM Oct 25, 1994


Geneva 24 Oct (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The efforts to pick a successor to GATT Director-General Peter Sutherland, out of the three candidates in the running, have reached a deadlock in two rounds of consultations, GATT source reported Monday.

This became known after an informal meeting with a small group of heads of delegations held by the Chairman of the GATT Contracting Parties, Andres Szepesi, who reported on his individual consultations with delegations (present in Geneva). There are about 30 more contracting parties, mostly ACP countries, who have no offices here and have not figured in the consultations.

Szepesi is to begin a third round of consultations from 7 November.

Meanwhile, the candidates and their backers can be expected to hold some higher level political consultations.

At the moment, one of the participants at the meeting said on coming out, there is a deadlock and a quick resolution of this seems difficult.

The three candidates are Mexican President Salinas, former Italian Trade Minister, Renato Ruggiero backed by the EU, and the South Korean Trade Minister, Kim Chul-Su.

With the US backing Salinas, the EU Ruggiero and Japan Kim, the three candidates have been reported by Szepesi as more or less commanding equal support and, unless there is an attempt to agree on a second choice, a move towards large majority support is difficult.

The support is also solid along regional lines, with Salinas and Kim reported as having some backing from outside their regions. Ruggiero's support is reportedly mainly European and some of the ACP countries.

Monday's discussions have not revealed any one of the three backing out, one of the participants said.

Another, a supporter of Salinas, thought that there was wide-spread support for the view that the European stranglehold or monopoly over this office must be broken. The delegate thought in this way, Salinas candidacy would ultimately emerge with a large support.

But there are others who feel that one or two 'outsiders' might come into the picture if the situation does not change.

It is clear that ultimately the three majors would "try to do a deal" and, with the developing countries disunited and clinging to one or the other of the majors, the process is going to take some time.

"However, I find, every one relaxed and there is no sense of tension", one of the participants said.