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Compliance Study: France

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"We will ensure full and effective implementation of the Uruguay Round results according to the agreed timetables."

Grade: 0

This commitment by the G7 Heads of State infers primarily a concerted effort by the seven to pursue and encourage continued momentum among all states party to the WTO in fulfilling the promises set out in 1994. They are committing to act within such multilateral bodies as the WTO itself, and the OECD, as well as encouraging countries outside the OECD to follow in their footsteps.

At the most recent OECD Ministerial (26-27 May 1997), chaired notably by France's Minister of Economy and Finance, M. Arthuis, the Chair highlighted three primary issues facing all countries:

The OECD's forward-looking linkages study "Towards a New Global Age" presents a vision for the year 2020 that envisions a commitment of all OECD governments to extensive trade and investment liberalization. These governments, along with those countries that have not yet acceded to the OECD, must work independently and responsibly to ensure macroeconomic discipline, the strengthening of domestic financial systems, the implementation of effective environmental policies, and the development of comprehensive product and factor market reflexes.

The WTO Singapore Meeting, at which all G7 members were represented, further advanced the Uruguay Round achievements, adding the successful completion of agreements on Information Technology and Basic Telecommunications to the trade liberalization agenda.

The G7 can also be considered responsible for their stated commitment the OECD Ministerial to pursue and develop linkages among OECD and WTO committees, sharing experiences, reducing overlap, and avoiding duplication of energies.

The OECD ministers pledged that their countries would word to complete WTO negotiations on financial services by December of 1997. They expressed determination to conclude the MAI by the December 1998 Ministerial Meeting.

As stated in the Lyon Communiqué, they also agreed to refrain from actions that would undermine progressive liberalization, and to resolve disputes through the WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding.

In the 27 April 1997 statement by the G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, the priority of reducing unemployment was particularly emphasized.

Thus, France, as a central member of the multilateral financial organizations, has made some important steps towards moving the international trade agenda forward. To date, however, trade as a government priority has been given less emphasis than other current domestic challenges. The government has successfully contributed to action on the implementation of the Uruguay Round commitments made in 1994 over the past 12 months.

However, the French Government has done very little domestically to visibly add force to the statements issued. The OECD Ministerial statement did include a request to the OECD to produce a report on trade and investment liberalization for domestic consumption across the OECD countries. This should not be considered enough to indicate the French Government's interest in furthering the international trade agenda at this time since it is the consensus of the group present, not necessarily the opinion of the Chair. The French Government's preoccupation over the past year with both three enormous domestic problems- the persistent unemployment rate, the restrictions presented by the impending Euro deadline in 1999, and the recent parliamentary elections - has left it little flexibility to contribute meaningfully to the larger global trade and investment liberalization agenda.

Due to the precedence accorded to domestic economic issues, French multilateral trade efforts have been put on the 'back burner', although not discarded. France, therefore, receives the grade of 0 on trade.

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