8:26 AM Jun 3, 1993
LATINS KEEP THEIR OPTIONS AND GATT RACE OPENGeneva 3 June (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- The group of Latin American and Caribbean countries after a meeting Thursday morning would appear to have kept their options open and not abandon their efforts at what one of them described as 'an attempt to send the signal' that the developing countries can't be taken for granted. The informal group met Thursday morning, in the light of the discussions in the informal developing country group Wednesday evening, where the EC's Amb. Tran Van-Thinh came before them to explain the EC position, and invite the delegates for an informal get-together with Sutherland at the EC mission Thursday over drinks. The GRULA group members thought this to be 'undignified' and decided not to attend. The group would also appear to have considered its options over fielding a single candidate, and decided to keep in touch, at level of their ambassadors, through the day to decide on this. While one section felt the panel of names should be maintained, the Colombian delegate is reported to have advised that his government had authorized him to withdraw the candidacy of Jaramillo, if the Grula group so desired. The GRULA members would appear to have looked at the issue in terms of the entire GATT, Uruguay Round processes including processes for concluding the Round everyone sought. There was a feeling among many that if the EC could thus 'roll over' the developing countries and steam-roller a consensus in the GATT, Sutherland, their candidate for DG, after election might get the idea that the developing countries don't really matter and he has only to broker a deal between the US and EC. From this perspective, there was a view among some of them that the Latin Americans should maintain until the end atleast one candidate, so that the Chairman of the CPs would be unable to say on 9 June that there was a consensus around Sutherland's candidacy. It was not clear though that in the end they may force a vote, knowing that their candidate might not win, but to make the point for the future, when they could get the developing countries to vote together on substance. Atleast it will make the majors think, one Latin source said. Julio Lacarte is reported to have advised the group that he was entirely in the hands of the group and would be ready to keep the candidacy in place, if needed.