Gatt chief says West must lead

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The Independent Online
PARIS - Peter Sutherland, director-general of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt), urged the United States and Europe yesterday to push hard for an accord by the 15 December deadline, writes Julian Nundy.

Speaking at a conference organised by the International Herald Tribune in Paris, Mr Sutherland said the few weeks remaining would give the industrialised states a chance to show their leadership qualities. He said the talks represented 'a defining moment in modern economic and, I believe, political history'.

They are stalled in part over French opposition to last year's compromise on agriculture. On Monday, Sir Leon Brittan, the Commissioner in charge of negotiations for the European Union, accused the US and Japan of holding up an agreement by not responding to a European offer on market access and reducing industrial tariffs.

Mr Sutherland, stressing the global nature of Gatt, said the 116 member nations 'cannot pick and choose' parts of an accord. France has also asked for cinema and television productions to be excluded from any overall agreement to protect its cultural heritage against US domination.

Edouard Balladur, the French Prime Minister, said earlier at the same conference that France wanted an agreement that would not allow any member states to use unilateral measures against their trading partners.

Mr Sutherland said it would be the smaller economies that suffered most if an accord were not reached in the current Uruguay Round. Their message to the big powers 'is the same, and I focus on the United States and the European Community: quit stalling and do a a deal'.

He stressed that the conclusion should not be an arrangement between the bigger countries but should be negotiated by all Gatt states.