US says Gatt talks will be protracted: Kantor criticises Japan's role

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THE US yesterday predicted that a successful conclusion to the stalled Gatt talks was some way off and criticised Japan in particular for not playing a more prominent role.

Mickey Kantor, the US special trade representative, told European industrialists that the US was committed to resolving the Uruguay round. But he said: 'Based on our discussions to date we do not believe that we are as close to completion as some have reported in early January.'

Mr Kantor said the three-year deadlock between the rest of the world and the EC over agriculture had stalemated the round and gave other nations, most notably Japan, the ability to avoid contributing meaningfully to them. 'We will not complete the round without some leadership by the US and the EC, but we will also not complete it if Japan continues to behave as if it has little stake in the outcome,' he said.

Mr Kantor rejected suggestions that the most contentious issues such as intellectual property, services and the audiovisual sector should be dealt with outside the current round, saying they were integral to the development of a balanced trading system.

European industrialists from all sectors complained that the rules were not equally applied, saying that American markets were protectionist.

'We hope to avoid getting bogged down in long, drawn-out theological debates about free trade versus protectionism. This is a senseless exercise and ultimately futile,' he said.

Airbus Industrie meanwhile raised the stakes ahead of this week's meeting to review the US-EC code on aircraft subsidies by accusing its US rival, Boeing, of engaging in a campaign of deception, defamation and innuendo.

Jean Pierson, chief executive officer of the aircraft manufacturer, alleged that senior Boeing executives had denigrated Airbus by accusing it of unfair trade practices, producing too many aircraft and offering airline customers inducements in the shape of 'walk-away' leases.

Airbus said that Boeing was attempting to influence the outcome of the talks by a campaign of innuendo, defamatory remarks and contradictory statements.