I am making this statement on behalf of ASEAN countries namely Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
ASEAN countries attach great importance to the strong and effective multilateral trading system as embodied in the GATT. The failure of the Uruguay Round Negotiation in Brussels in December last year was due to the uncompromising positions of some major contracting parties.
We are deeply concerned that despite the damage that such impasse in negotiations has done to the world trading system, no serious efforts seem to have come forth from the major trading partners to move the negotiations forward during the past 10 months.
Agriculture issue remains to be the major stumbling block. Although the European Commission has indicated further flexibility to conduct negotiation in Agriculture, it is still not enough to break the deadlock. ASEAN believed that Uruguay Round cannot and will not conclude in whole or in part without a substantial and progressive reduction of distorting measures in each of the three areas of internal supports, border protection and export competition in Agriculture.
We therefore strongly urge that the major developed countries especially those who have long benefitted from open trading system take necessary political leadership to enable the breakthrough in this area.
In regard to other issues which appear to run into the deadlock i.e. textiles and international rules for competition, ASEAN hopes that the technical aspects; In relation to outstanding issues in the draft textiles agreement should be resolved in a way that would allow for a meaningful and credible integration and liberalization of trade in this sector. As regards international rules, ASEAN wishes to re-emphasize that he rules which will emerge from the Uruguay Round should be fair and transparent to prevent their use as instruments of harassment and protectionism.
ASEAN regrets that the chairman of the TNC at official level is not yet in a position to propose a draft package for the final phase of negotiations. The prolongation of the Round will only bring about proliferation of the protectionist measures to the trading system.
If the Round cannot come to a successful conclusion by the end of the year, there is little possibility that it can be concluded at all. The distracion by political domestic issues in some major countries next year will make the Round drift into 1993. The chance to revive the negotiation will be very slim.
ASEAN therefore strongly urges that all participants, particularly those major players who have vital influence on the pace and the direction of the negotiation, exert the necessary political will to expedite the conclusion of the Uruguay Round within the timeframe as indicated by the chairman of TNC.
In this regard, it is worth noting that some of the most powerful trading nations on earth are being represented in this room. In fact, three-fourths of the quadrilaterals are here. We have heard all of them reaffirm very clearly their commitment to conclude the Uruguay Round by the end of this year.
I would like to quote specifically Mr. Michio Watanabe, the Japanese Foreign Minister, who said that: “Japan is determined to do its utmost to reach substantive agreement of the Uruguay Round within he year.”
If all of us, especially the more powerful trading nations, could make an equally strong commitment and honour it, then I do not see why the Round could not be successfully concluded within this year.
All participants must now work intensely towards a final package. The package of results should be balanced, meaningful and beneficial to all participants. A special, and differential treatment for developing countries as expressed in the Punta del Este declaration and reaffirmed by the mid-term review meeting should be an integral part of the outcome in each of the areas of negotiations.
ASEAN countries have also been active in opening our internal market through voluntary deregulation and market opening measures. For example, the import duty for apple into Thailand was reduced from 20 Baht to 3 Baht per kilo equivalent to ten per cent advalorem, whereas Thai rice export to the EC is subjected 200 per cent levy. In view of the positive contribution in the Uruguay Round, ASEAN countries have submitted offers in services on top of the other offers already made previously in other areas.
ASEAN reaffirms its commitment to an open trading system and to operate only under the multilateral rules. In the meantime, all participants must refrain from taking unilateral action that could undermine the process of multilateral negotiations.
ASEAN countries place a great emphasis on the Uruguay Round and give high priority to the early and successful conclusion of the Round. It is our conviction that global prosperity could only be realized if the international trading system remains open.