The view from Versailles

From a summit you should be able to see where you're going as well as where you've been. There were at least three encouraging instances of looking ahead at the recent Versailles summit:

* Technology. The leaders of the seven major industrial democracies recognized the increasing importance of technological development not only for themselves but for the rest of the world. They saw the enormous potential of computers and the ''information age'' for creating new jobs. They saw the resulting demand for education and training. They set a deadline of Dec. 31, 1982, for a new working group to define specific proposals for meeting these challenges of the future.

It was not surprising that the summit communique cited President Mitterrand's report on the new technologies. France has been in the forefront of seeking to spur international cooperation on them. Earlier this year it announced plans for a world center of computer technology and human resources with special focus on developing countries.

Across the water, even such a high-tech state as Massachusetts sees reason to prepare more for the jobs of the future. There a $40 million center for education and research in microelectronics has been proposed.

* Trade. The summiteers looked beyond the familiar international trade in goods to a future with an increasing ''trade'' in the services and investment that have already grown by leaps and bounds. They promised full participation in the fall's ministerial trade talks, where groundwork could be laid for addressing such matters. They pledged to resist protectionist pressures and to strengthen the mulilateral trading system in GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade).

The US understandably has been a leader in bringing up the trade in services, since it has become a major exporter of them. But an orderly system would benefit all.

* Third world. Here there was a breakthrough toward revitalizing the North-South dialogue for establishing equitable relationships between the developed and developing countries. All participants approved the objective of global negotiations. President Reagan had been holding out against them under what he saw as the politicized circumstances of the United Nations. But he went along when the conferees accepted the condition of guaranteeing the independence of the specialized banking and other agencies.

Another reason for Mr. Reagan's joining the consensus was reported to be the willingness of the other participants to support at least a gesture toward his hopes of reducing trade with the Soviet Union. He wanted to eliminate favorable credit terms for Moscow. He saw the anomaly of free nations giving this kind of break to a communist power that might just spend the savings on armaments.

Europeans wryly noted that US trade with Russia had been expanding at a faster rate than theirs. But, since some of them are more dependent on it, they are reluctant to make arbitrary cutbacks in credit subsidy. The upshot was to agree on ''commercial prudence in limiting export credits'' for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Without quantitative specifications, each country appears to be on its own in judging what is prudent. Time will tell if the summit nations were giving a sop to Mr. Reagan -- or were preserving a flexibility under which they will nevertheless act in the spirit of withholding favors from a totalitarian regime.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to The view from Versailles
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today