MOST world leaders and industrialists consider the new Uruguay Round of international trade liberalization pact and they see green - as in the color of money.
But international environmental organizations say they want to see a ``greening'' of the accord before it reaches a ministerial meeting of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade's 117 members next April. Without substantial improvements in the text before then, they will oppose its passage when the accord comes up for ratification in such crucial bodies as the United States Congress.
``The history of GATT is one of insensitivity, and sometimes hostility, to environmental concerns,'' says David Schorr, trade and environment specialist with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) ``That past has yet to be adequately corrected, so we will oppose the [accord] in its current form.''
The Uruguay Round's ``final act'' was concluded by trade delegations yesterday, ending the formal negotiating stage. Amendments can still be approved before the April meeting.
The WWF was joined yesterday in rejecting the current text by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and Greenpeace. In broad terms, the three groups want a concrete agenda for building links between trade policies and environmental concerns. ``Right now there is a pressure for harmonizing down environmental laws as they affect trade,'' says Greenpeace's Colin Hines in London. ``We want countries to have the right to go further than international norms, so that the pressure is in the other direction.''
US chief trade negotiator Mickey Kantor said Tuesday that the US wants GATT to go further in addressing such issues as the environment and workers' rights - but in a subsequent negotiating round.
Environmentalists recognize that some of their stiffest opposition comes from developing countries that see tougher ``green'' laws as targeting them. ``We don't want to arm trade protectionists,'' says Rodrigo Prudencio, trade specialist with the NWF. ``We think freer trade can help developing countries provide the funds for environmental protection.'' But he says that cannot be done with rules that disregard the connection between trade and the environment.