The European Economic Community declared today it is ready to participate in the launching of a new round of multilateral trade negotiations and proposed that they be opened in Brussels.
Issuing the community's first formal endorsement of a new round, trade ministers from the 10 member states called for an ad hoc meeting "in the coming months" of senior officials from members of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to discuss "subject matter and participation" in the negotiations.
Willy de Clerq, the community commissioner for external relations, said the new round will be one of the main topics during his meetings in Washington this week with William Brock, the U.S. trade representative, and Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige.
"Up to now, there was no commitment on the side of the community to participate in the launching of a new round," de Clerq said after the ministers' meeting. "Now we have declared this readiness."
The declaration approved by the ministers said that trade in services, which both the United States and Japan want to see in the new round, "seems suitable for inclusion." But the declaration adds that a "balanced package of topics for negotiations" should be agreed upon "in which all participants will find advantages for themselves."
The declaration also said that while a new round "is of the utmost importance to a strengthening of the open multilateral trading system and to the expansion of international trade," it "will not of itself be sufficient to such purposes." The ministers urged that while work was under way to launch the negotiations, "serious parallel consideration" should be given to the need for reaffirmation of international pledges to halt protectionism and relax and dismantle trade restrictions as economic recovery proceeds.
The ministers rejected efforts by France to include monetary and financial problems in the new round, but said that "determined, concerted action is required to improve the functioning of the international monetary system and the flow of financial and other resources to developing countries." These results, the ministers said, "should be sought with results in the trade field."
The ministers proposed that the new round be inaugurated in Brussels. "So it should be called the Brussels round" following the so-called Kennedy and Tokyo rounds, said Francesco Forte, the Italian minister for European affairs, who chaired the ministers' meeting.
Forte said the ministers did not set a date for the launching of the new round because they felt a step-by-step effort was the best way to achieve progress.
The declaration said that regarding agriculture, "The community is ready to work toward improvements within the existing framework and disciplines in GATT covering all aspects of trade in agricultural products," but added that the trade bloc was determined that the "fundamental objectives and mechanisms" of its agricultural support program "shall not be placed in question."
The United States has criticized the community's farm subsidy program for distorting world trade and said it should be included in the preparatory talks for the new round.
The declaration also noted that "despite previous trade rounds, Japan's growth of imports of manufactured goods has nowhere matched her export growth. Like concessions have not produced like results." The ministers said it was a "pressing political necessity" for Japan to change its trade policies.