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close this bookThe Courier N 122 July - August 1990 - Dossier Tourism - Country Report: Mali (EC Courier, 1990, 104 p.)
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View the documentTextiles in GATT: the Community makes its proposals
View the documentAid for the countries of Asia and Latin America

Textiles in GATT: the Community makes its proposals

The Community has just proposed a coherent and pragmatic method of gradually integrating textiles in a stronger GATT at the Uruguay Round discussions in Geneva, thereby showing its desire to make headway with the negotiations in the hope of obtaining an outline agreement in July. The recommended system is based on the gradual liberalisation of the existing Multifibre Arrangement.

The Community has already rejected all idea of a system based on the globalisation of restrictions, since this does not comply with the demand of gradual reduction of the existing restrictions.

Its suggestion for the dismantling of restrictions in the textile sector is fully compatible with the real and gradual integration of textiles in GATT and would start with the existing restrictions at their present level - not therefore holding the present conditions of access to markets up to question. The Community is also willing to negotiate a list of products which could be included in GATT at once, without any need for transitional arrangements.

The transitional programme provides for stage - by - stage dismantling in the light of existing agreements and rules known to the economic operators so they would be able to see far enough ahead to ensure the greater, harmonious development of trade.

Each stage in the transitional period should, the Community says, involve:

- liberalisation of a number of restrictions, each country having to take such decisions as are required to achieve the agreed percentage of liberalisation at each stage;

- better market access where restrictions are maintained, to be achieved by a gradual increase in quotas, the possibilities of flexibility and a guarantee of minimum growth in exceptional circumstances.

Transitional safeguard machinery is provided to cope with any problems which arise during the transitional period. However, the Community proposed that specific provisions be made to ensure that such machinery did not impede dismantling.

Lastly, the Community again said that the dismantling of restrictions must take place in conjunction with application of the stronger GATT rules and regulations designed to ensure the opening of markets and the creation of fair conditions of competition. It also said it had already suggested setting up a multilateral system of monitoring and checking on commitments, fulfilment of which triggered the beginning of the next stage.

Its proposals confirmed the fact that it had embarked on the Uruguay Round with the firm political will to orchestrate a credible collective drive to liberalise the trade in textiles for the benefit of all concerned.

Corrigendum

The references to Swaziland on pages 6, 9, 155 and 185 of No 120 of The Courier, taken in good faith from a document in fact containing an error, should be replaced by the exact title of the Head of State of Swaziland: His Majesty the King of the Kingdom of Swaziland.

UNWRA

Community relief for Palestinian refugees

Abel Matutes, the Commissioner responsible for the Mediterranean policy, recently signed a new EEC - UNWRA agreement (for 1990 - 92) with Giorgio Giacomelli, the General Commissioner of the UN Work and Relief Agency for Palestinian Refugees. It involves the Community granting a total of about ECU 72 million for 1990, 1991 and 1992, plus food aid worth an estimated ECU 20 m p.a.

The Community has been backing UNWRA with three - year agreements since 1972. Its total assistance to Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza so far (direct contributions in cash to education programmes and in kind in the case of food aid progammes) is an estimated ECU 429.4 m (1972 - 89) and it and the Member States are the biggest contributors to the Agency’s programmes (with 23 % and 17 % respectively).

And not only has the Community contributed to UNWRA’s normal budget. It has also backed emergency programmes in Lebanon and the occupied territories - ECU 1.6 m in 1987 (Lebanon), ECU 1.7m in 1988 (occupied territories), ECU 290 000 in 1989 (occupied territories) and ECU 370 000 in April 1990 (occupied territories).

MEDITERRANEAN

The Commission proposes updating the Mediterranean policy

The Commission has adopted a communication from the Council aimed at updating the Community’s Mediterranean policy along two lines:

- A series of schemes for all third countries in the Mediterranean is to be launched in the fields of the environment, human resources, regional cooperation, joint ventures and projects of common and regional interest. An indicative amount of ECU 420 m has been proposed from the budget, for the period 1992 - 96, and a ceiling for EIB loans has been set at ECU 3 500 m. Some schemes will be able to start in 1991.

- It is suggested that the financial protocols with the eight countries south and east of the Mediterranean (Algeria, Egypt, lsrael, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia) be renewed as from 1 November i 991 and a substantial increase in the level of resources (ECU I 425 m for the budget and ECU I 400 m for EIB loans) included.

The European Council of Strasbourg thought, on the basis of a first Commission communication on the updated Mediterranean policy, that relations between the Community and the third countries in the Mediterranean should be extended and intensified.

The Commission has adopted a second communication detailing operational proposals which can start being applied in 1992 (although one or two could begin in 1991). This is at the suggestion of Abel Matutes, the member of the Commission responsible for the Mediterranean policy.

Generally speaking, the Commission ensures that Community support fits in with the countries’ own efforts to right their economies and make the appropriate adjustments and it believes that these efforts have to be continued and the external financing of them considerably augmented.

It feels that the creditors, the donors and the Mediterranean countries themselves have to combine various types of schemes - bank financing, lighter debt servicing, more official external financing, more private investment and more efficient use of national savings - to cope with the debt and suggests ways of cooperating with the Member States in cases of debt crisis. The Commission also proposes that the Community increase the opportunity for discussion on economic matters (general aspects, monetary, financial, agricultural and industrial considerations, transport, etc.), social issues (immigration and demography) and political questions of joint interest with its Mediterranean partners.

On the trade front, the Commission thinks the time is ripe to bring textiles into the free access arrangements provided for in the current cooperation and association agreements. This would be done in a gradual manner, in the light of positive results of the textile negotiations in the Uruguay Round.

The Commission is also favourably disposed towards the introduction of rules authorising cumulative origin for such groups of third Mediterranean countries as requested it.

It feels that, pending the tariff dismantling (I January 1986 at the latest), a response to requests from some of the Mediterranean partners could be made by bringing limited changes to quotas, ceilings, timetables and new products in the trade in agricultural products.

When it comes to cooperation with the Mediterranean as a whole, the Commission’s idea is that better economic cohesion should be brought about between the Community and the partners with such things as support for regional cooperation, the development of enterprise, incentives for private European investors, environmental protection, the development of human resources and the financing of projects of regional or common interest. And scientific and technical cooperation will be actively pursued in the energy sector.

The (indicative) financial means to be earmarked for this are ECU 420 m from the budget (ECU 100 m for the environment and ECU 100 m for joint ventures) and ECU 3 500 m from the EIB (10% of it for environmental operations, with interest rebates), although the amounts budgeted for such schemes hitherto have been very small (totalling ECU 3.5 m in 1 990).

The financial protocols with the eight countries south and east of the Mediterranean expire on 31 October 1991 and the Commission proposes to renew them, keeping the amounts for each country’s programme (an important guarantee for the recipients) and adding a non - programme, “ all countries” amount to be used as support to ensure the rapid success and cushion the social effects of economic reforms.

The proposed means for this are ECU 1.425 m for five years from the budget (as against ECU 815 before) and ECU 1.400 m from the EIB (ECU I 003 m before).

All the suggested budget means are included in proposed revisions of the financial prospects adopted by the Commission on 21 February 1990. These proposals mean a substantial increase in the financial means the Community has available for the Mediterranean - an amount to which will soon be added the figures to be decided for Yugoslavia and Turkey.

The Commission’s proposals reflect the quantitative and qualitative improvements which it hopes to bring about in relations between the Community and the third Mediterranean countries, as it is convinced that geographical proximity and the intensity of relations of all kinds make the stability and prosperity of these countries an essential aspect of the future of the Community itself.