Australian Premier Bob Hawke Hopes GATT Trade Talks Won't be Sidetracked
SYDNEY — BOB HAWKE, Australia's prime minister, hopes that the civil war in Yugoslavia does not interrupt important world trade negotiations.Mr. Hawke is afraid European leaders will become so distracted by the Yugoslav crisis that the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) will get further delayed. Speaking about the GATT talks, Hawke says, "There is no more important issue. Quite simply, the future of the international community depends on it." Australia has been one of the leaders in trying to bring agricultural trade under the control of GATT. As a major agricultural producer, Australia wants other nations to end their trade-distorting subsidies. Hawke, addressing the Foreign Correspondent's Association yesterday, said he expects the subsidy issue to come up when President Bush visits Australia in late November. The United States provides export enhancements to its farmers. This allows the US to undersell Australian wheat producers. "We will work very strongly to give President Bush the view that while we recognize that the Europeans are the major problem as regard to international progress on GATT, we simply cannot accept that we must suffer under the impact of these policies," Hawke said. Hawke believes he has convinced President Bush to meet with a delegation representing Australian farmers. In return the farmers have agreed not to disrupt Bush's visit. Hawke also says he will not close a jointly operated military base in retaliation for the agricultural dispute. This has been suggested by some critics of the US military presence.