OECD Meeting Ends With Agreement on New Trade Talks
PARIS (AP) _ The major industrial nations agreed Friday to begin preparations this summer for a new round of global negotiations on liberalizing trade, but they failed to set a date for the negotiations.
In a declaration at the close of two days of discussions, ministers from the 24 nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said a new set of trade negotiations would help combat a trend toward protectionism.
The last round of global trade negotiations ended in 1979.
The finance and economic ministers also agreed to continue pursuing anti- inflation policies in order to sustain the world economic recovery and reduce unemployment.
The United States, led by Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III, failed to persuade its trading partners to set a date for the start of the talks. But conference sources said that probably would be done at the summit meeting of the seven largest industrial democracies in Bonn, West Germany, in early May.
Baker told a news conference he was not concerned by the European resistance to setting a date now for opening the trade negotiations.
″I’m not so sure the difference is not a difference of form rather than substance, when you consider that there was unanimity for a new trade round as soon as possible,″ Baker said.
William Brock, the U.S. trade representative, called the proposal for a preparatory meeting this summer ″a major step forward.″
Brock said he believed the preparations could be completed in six or seven months, allowing the formal negotiations to begin in early 1986.
Baker appeared to clear the way for eventual agreement on the timing of the trade negotiations when he signaled on Friday a U.S. willingness to hold separate talks on ways of improving the world monetary system.
The Europeans, led by France, have insisted that a firm commitment to trade negotiations could not be made before the United States agreed to discuss ways of limiting swings in the value of the dollar.
The closing communique said the ministers proposed a meeting of senior officials be held before the end of the summer, ″to reach a broad consensus″ on the content of a new round of international trade talks.
The United States, supported by Britain, Canada and Japan, had wanted the ministers to commit themselves to a starting date in early 1986.
All the countries agreed, however, on the need for negotiations.
″The avoidance of any resurgence of protectionist measures is of vital importance to sustained economic recovery and to preservation of the multilateral trading system,″ the communique said.
The declaration also singled out the United States and Japan for criticism.
It said large U.S. budget deficits were to blame for a rising burden of debt repayments in other countries. It also said the strong dollar was contributing to pressures for protectionist legislation in the United States.
Martin Bangemann, the West German economics minister, told the meeting that the U.S. budget deficit was a ″major risk″ to continued improvement in the world economy.
Ippei Kaneko, the Japanese minister for economic planning, said the high value of the U.S. dollar was the main reason for the imbalance in world trading performances.
″Holding interest rates down to appropriate levels and correcting the dollar’s overvaluation will make a substantial contribution to rectifying worldwide imbalance″ in trade, he said.
The communique also called on Japan to ″contribute to a better international climate″ by reducing its large trade surpluses.
Japan had a surplus last year of nearly $38 billion in trade with the United States and an $11 billion dollar trade surplus with the 10-nation European Economic Community.
The Japanese delegation said its government would work toward further deregulation of its financial markets, promote foreign investment in Japan, offer easier foreign access to its commercial markets and increase imports.