5:35 AM Nov 7, 1994
NEW ROUND OF CONSULTATIONS OVER GATT HEADGeneva 7 Nov (TWN) -- The Chairman of the Contracting Parties to the GATT, Amb. Andras Szepesi of Hungary, was due Monday to begin a second round of consultations with delegations on choosing a candidate to succeed Mr. Peter Sutherland as head the GATT and the future World Trade Organization. Key GATT delegations involved in the process said they expected Szepesi to appeal to individual delegations to show some flexibility and indicate to him their second choices. There are three candidates in the race: the European Union nominee Italy's Renato Ruggerio, the Latin American candidate Mexican President Carlos Salinas who has now been publicly backed by the United States, and the Asian candidate, and the South Korean Trade Minister, Kim Chul-Su who has been backed by Japan and the Asian countries. Kim who was in Geneva last week attended the meeting of the informal group of developing countries where he addressed them to outline his vision of the future WTO and what needs to be done for developing countries. On Friday evening Kim had informal consultations with his Asian supporters over dinner when he was pledged their continued support. With others, both Latin Americans and Europeans, taking a regional approach, Asia would remain equally firm behind Kim, his supporters said. The first round of consultations of Szepesi, according to GATT delegations, had shown a deadlock -- with each of the candidates having strong regional backing and support. After consultations in September and October, Szepesi told a group of key delegations that positions were rigid and without some flexibility it would be difficult to pick a choice commanding consensus. Unless one of the candidates emerged with atleast twothirds overwhelming support in the informal head-counts, it would be difficult to make progress, and none of the three seem likely to achieve that at this point of time, GATT participants generally agree. According to some of the GATT delegations, an informal head count by Szepesi suggested that Ruggerio, with solid European support and some among the ACP countries, had a lead of perhaps five or six over Salinas with Kim behind Salinas by one or two 'heads'. This is by no means the kind of situation where a consensus could emerge under some pressure, some of the key delegations privately commented last week. They did not expect any quick change in a second round too, but were not quite clear whether this would lead to a quick attempt to find a candidate outside the three who could command a consensus or whether it would need a longer cooling off period. Sutherland's term technically runs till next July and while he is anxious to leave by end of the year he could be persuaded or forced to stay on till end of his term or atleast a few months into the new year, these sources suggest.