US warns on Gatt failure: Negotiators locked into tough talks to reconcile differences on a world trade agreement

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The Independent Online
A SENIOR United States official warned of the consequences of failure last night as world trade talks moved into their final stage.

Mickey Kantor, the US trade representative, and Sir Leon Brittan, the European Union's trade commissioner, were closeted in a room in Brussels trying to resolve the toughest issues blocking a deal. All the signs were that both sides were preparing to blame each other if success cannot be achieved by 15 December, the agreed date for concluding the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Warren Christopher, the US Secretary of State, gave a dire warning of the economic and political consequences of a breakdown. 'The stakes here are absolutely immense,' he told reporters after meeting Jacques Delors, the Commission President. 'A failure would threaten the economic recovery of Europe, the United States and the world as a whole.' He added: 'A failure would not be good for the relationship between the United States and the European Union.'

Last night, Mr Kantor and Sir Leon were still talking, with the meeting set to go late into the night. Both sides spent yesterday morning with their technical experts, and then broke off to meet Mr Delors, Mr Christopher and Belgium's Foreign Minister, Willy Claes, for a more political discussion.

The issues Mr Kantor and Sir Leon have been talking about - agriculture, the organisation of a future world trade body, settlement of trade disputes, tariff cuts in various industrial sectors and greater market access - are at the heart of an agreement.

BONN - Germany's Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, and France's President, Francois Mitterrand, yesterday declared their eagerness to achieve a deal in the Gatt talks by the deadline, writes Steve Crawshaw.

At a joint press conference, Mr Mitterrand said that France was ready to make 'real efforts' in search of a compromise, though he emphasised that 'we cannot be the only ones'. Mr Kohl emphasised the 'common goal' of a successful conclusion, and spoke of the need for compromise 'on both sides of the Atlantic'.

Mr Mitterrand complained that France was sometimes 'unjustly treated' in the discussions on the Gatt free-trade agreement.

Jonathan Eyal, page 21