UNITED States Secretary of Agriculture Clayton Yeutter recently returned from Paris, where he discussed the slow pace of the Uruguay round with the main trading partners of the US. Following are excerpts from a Monitor interview with Secretary Yeutter: What are the odds of getting an agreement on GATT by the end of this year?
Better than 50-50.
Will the GATT negotiations come up at the Houston Economic Summit in July?
Yes....This is the last opportunity for the leaders to provide some impetus to the round. I am not sure this is going to happen because they are not now showing political will to do that. As you know ... in Paris their position was to stick with the midterm review document drafted 14 months ago....What kind of a signal does that send to the rest of the world? That is why we agreed to send the signal that we agreed to disagree.
If there is not an agreement reached on agriculture at the end of the round, you have said you might look at the restructuring of US agriculture. Would you explain what you mean?
What we would do, to give an example, is to structure our program in such a way as to attempt to garner the market share internationally that we believe our competitiveness provides. If that means countering someone else's export subsidies, we will have to counter them. If that means facing unfair import restrictions, we will have to find ways to counter those import restrictions.
What is the schedule?
Tough. We are running out of negotiating days. This puts a lot of stress on the negotiating team.
Why can't the negotiations go into 1991?
That would be their death knell. You can only sustain these types of exercises for a limited amount of time. The participating nations would become frustrated and drop out of the process.
Even though we are very far from an agreement with the European Community, what kind of advice would you give farmers at this point?
...Sit tight and await the results, because whatever happens in the Uruguay round, it is not likely to be implemented until 1992 and then gradually over a period of roughly 10 years.