The G7 Summit: Gatt dominates the fringe

MUNICH - Officials at the Group of Seven summit in Munich were yesterday striving to break the deadlock in the Uruguay Round of world trade talks and launched an intensive round of diplomacy on the summit's fringe, writes Peter Torday.

The two main protaganists at the heart of the dispute, the United States and the European Community, set a meeting today which could lead to detailed negotiations on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt) by their experts in the final two days of the summit.

While no one was predicting anything like a final agreement and some officials were privately pessimistic, successful progress could set in train detailed talks which would end late this year. This would be after the French referendum on Maastricht, where farmers might express their opposition to a Gatt deal. It would also avoid upsetting the presidential election in the US, where protectionist measures are mounting.

President George Bush and James Baker, the US Secretary of State, scheduled a meeting with Jacques Delors, the President of the European Commission, and Frans Andriessen, the European Community's chief trade negotiator, to set the political tone of the detailed negotiating sessions.

John Major, the Prime Minister, meanwhile made a determined attempt to win around President Francois Mitterrand - who is seen as the main opponent of a Gatt accord because of his fear of losing the farmers' vote - to achieve a political breakthrough. But officials dismissed reports of a sharp exchange over Gatt between the two leaders.

The Prime Minister has placed a Gatt agreement at the top of his agenda for the British presidency of the EC. After presenting to other leaders at the summit what were thought to be new proposals on the main stumbling-block over Gatt - the level of cuts in farm export subsidies - Mr Major asked President Mitterrand to join him for private talks today.

Don Mazankowski, the Canadian Finance Minister, told reporters: 'My understanding is that Mr Major brought forth a proposal that contained some elements of the solution. My understanding is that it may be considered later on.'

Indications that Gatt stood a chance, however slight, of progress at the Munich summit came yesterday in a meeting between Mr Baker, Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary, and Mr Andriessen. A European official said Mr Baker showed himself 'very committed to a Gatt breakthrough'.

During yesterday's talks it was agreed that the differences over farm trade were sufficiently small and the will for an agreement - with the world economy languishing - sufficiently great that it was worth entering into negotiations of substance during Munich. The EC expert on Gatt was already in Munich, and the US was thought to be ready to fly in its own technical negotiator from Geneva.

In addition to narrowing US and EC differences over the reductions in farm export subsidies, and the extent of income support for farmers, negotiators would look at other unresolved Gatt issues. These include reductions in tariffs on manufactured goods, and liberalising trade in financial and transport services.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Life and Style
Men with beards rejoice: Your beard probably doesn't harbour faeces-like bacteria
health
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before