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Kerin on Uruguay Round

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MT 78

24 September 1992

NO. Date:

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The Minister for Trade and Overseas Development, Mr John Kerin, said today that prospects for success in the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations were good if you listened to what key people were saying.

"Now they have to match these words with action," Mr Kerin said.

Mr Kerin was speaking in London at the end of a five day visit to the US and the EC to assess the state of Uruguay Round negotiations.

Mr Kerin said that several points needed to be taken into account when assessing the prospects for the Uruguay Round.

"The key bilateral negotiations between the US and the EC have been stalled for some time. However, I believe efforts are being made by both sides to close the gap which both agree is narrow.

"This emphasises the fact that the need for 'political will' from both sides is more important than technical negotiation.

"Furthermore, calls from some quarters for an intermediary to enter the discussions are ill-judged and in some cases a cynical ploy to divert responsibilities away from the main players.

"Arthur Dunkel, the Director General of the GATT and the key facilitator of the multilateral negotiations, is comprehensively aware of the dynamics of the situation and is ready to move when the signals from the major players are positive," Mr Kerin said.

"Any suggestion that he should attempt to push the Uruguay Round to conclusion before the powerful parties are propitiously aligned is naive.

"I have confidence in Mr Dunkel's reading of the situation and his efforts to ensure that everything within his power is achieved. Mr Dunkel recently returned from talks in South America and Asia, including Japan.



"The Cairns Group of free-trading nations met under my chairmanship in Geneva yesterday and affirmed its intention to maintain its pressure and patience in seeking a successful outcome to the Round.

"All parties I have spoken to are agreed that a successful Uruguay Round outcome would provide a fillip to economic recovery in the developing nations and a real boost to growth

in developing nations, including in Eastern EurCpeJ

"If agreement is not reached by around March 1, the US fast track Congressional approach option for the Uruguay Round will effectively lapse. This would effectively kill the Round," Mr Kerin said.

"Such a failure by the major powers -- despite the July G7 statement in support of a Round outcome -- would be a dereliction of their duty to their own constituents and to the rest of the world.

"If this occurs, it is likely that the trade battles and disputes we are currently experiencing will be exacerbated for a time, after which all parties would return -- exhausted and bitter -- to the negotiating table.

"This would mean the beginning of a new Round, and thus the waste of much of the hard work already done during the Uruguay Round, not to mention the waste of several years while multilateral trade liberalisation was stalled.

"It must also be noted that the current difficulties being experienced by the European Monetary Union are largely irrelevant to prospects for the Uruguay Round. Also, up until mid-to-late October, the US Presidential election is not a hindrance to an outcome," Mr Kerin said.

"Finally, I must once again affirm that, notwithstanding the primary importance for Australia of a successful Uruguay Round outcome, it is not a case of 'either' the Uruguay Round 'or' a regional trade liberalisation agreement.

"This Government has been working assiduously on all levels --multilateral, regional, bilateral and sectoral -- to improve trade access for Australian exports.

"The success Australia is achieving in increasing the volume and range of exports flows from our efforts at Government level in all these areas of trade policy.

"We will continue to be active and assertive so that our growth in exports and the development of our 'export culture' continues apace."

For further information contact: John Ringwood 06 277 7420