World trade talks at an impasse

December 13, 1993|By New York Times News Service

GENEVA -- After more than a week of steady if uneven progress, world trade talks have run into a roadblock as differences between the United States and France over the movie and entertainment business proved insurmountable.

The failure of two meetings yesterday between U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor and the European Community's chief trade official, Sir Leon Brittan, left the fate of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations hanging in the balance with three days remaining until an agreed-upon Wednesday deadline.

"We have very severe problems at the moment," Sir Leon said. "Things are not looking good. I think we have a bit of a crisis on our hands."

President Clinton called French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur last night from Washington. Details were not disclosed, but it appearedlikely that the two leaders were seeking a solution to the impasse.

But in one sign of significant progress, a GATT official said that agreement had been reached early today between the 116 nations on the question of anti-dumping duties.

The United States had protested what it saw as an attempt in proposed new GATT rules to limit its ability to apply these duties, which are used against exports sold at artificially low prices.

The official declined to give details of the compromise that settled this dispute, but said that Japan was the only nation not to give its approval.

A U.S. official said that the United States had sought 11 changes in the draft GATT text on anti-dumping and had secured 8 of them.

These changes, he said, would allow Washington to retain laws that permit the Commerce Department to impose steep tariffs on imported goods that are sold below cost or for less than in any other market.

But the Commerce Department's latitude in setting the actual level of tariffs was restricted, though it was not yet clear by how much.

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