WWD.com/fashion-news/textiles/u-s-in-eleventh-hour-talks-on-third-world-market-access-1154699/

MARRAKECH, Morocco — The U.S. is engaged in discreet bilateral diplomacy on the sidelines of the Uruguay Round summit here in a last-minute bid to extract better market access terms from developing nations, particularly India and Pakistan, for U.S. textiles and apparel, according to trade sources.

Trade ministers from 121 countries have been gathered here for a four-day conference through Thursday to sign off on the GATT Uruguay Round trade liberalization accords. Main negotiations for the accords were completed last December.

The inability of negotiators to gain more market access for U.S. goods into India and Pakistan has been a sore point in the U.S. textile and apparel industries, which threaten to oppose the GATT treaty when it comes before Congress for approval.

On Tuesday, Mickey Kantor, U.S. Trade Representative, told reporters here that the U.S. was “not satisfied with the market access offers of either Pakistan or India in the Round.”

“We believe that neither has lived up to its responsibilities in the Round, as yet,” he said. “We are trying to work with both countries in order to improve their offers, but so far we have been disappointed.”

Kantor is scheduled to meet here today with his Indian and Indonesian counterparts and will also meet with ministers from the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum.

However, U.S. officials declined to state whether the American delegation, which includes chief textile negotiator Jennifer Hillman, will demand that India make its textile and apparel offers more liberal.

Talks on this issue ended in deadlock a few weeks ago in Geneva, after India said that before it could agree to grant the U.S. better terms for specialty garments and value-added upmarket products, Washington had to be more forthcoming in granting India better quotas.

Sources close to the Indian delegation said they are not likely to take the initiative in reviving the textile access issues.

The Indians are more likely to use the meeting to express their concerns about attempts to link labor standards with trade.

The U.S. delegation was also tightlipped on whether it was close to brokering an accord with Pakistan. Unlike India, Pakistan did not break off the talks but has been waiting for the U.S. to come back with a counteroffer to improve access of its goods to the U.S. market, before it decides whether a deal can be cut.