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Balladur Won't Attend Tokyo Trade Summit : Relations: Prime Minister says France will not accept a pact unless America drops sanctions on steel.

June 30, 1993|From Reuters

PARIS — Prime Minister Edouard Balladur said Tuesday that he will not go to next week's Group of Seven summit meeting and France will not accept any agreement on trade there unless the United States drops sanctions on European steel.

Underlining French resistance to a pact lowering tariffs on goods and services, Balladur, who wields the most power in France, announced he will not attend the Tokyo meeting of major industrialized countries July 7-9.

"I don't plan to go there myself," Balladur said, adding that he needs to follow his government's program as it moves through Parliament, which adjourns for the summer next month.

Balladur, head of France's 3-month-old conservative government, told Europe 1 radio that Socialist President Francois Mitterrand will represent France at the G7 meeting. He said they fully agree on French policy.

Balladur's decision to skip the summit underlines the harmonious working relationship he and the president have established since Mitterrand named him premier at the end of March.

But it also appears to weaken the chances of a summit pact on lowering tariffs.

Other G7 nations hope a "market access" package to lower barriers to multilateral trade will clear the way for a broader pact at the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade talks by the end of the year.

The G7 members are the United States, Japan, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Italy. The European Commission also attends.

Last week, Japan said major industrialized countries might be able to hammer out a market access package by July 6.

U.S., European Community, Canadian and Japanese officials will meet in Toronto this week to discuss the issue, a Japanese official said Monday.

But Balladur said there could be no market access agreement in Tokyo unless Washington dropped its steel sanctions.

"I would say that is a precondition for a successful conclusion at the summit with respect to trade agreements," he said.

Last week, the United States slapped two levies on flat-rolled steel imports from 19 countries, including France. Washington claimed the steel was being subsidized or dumped at unfair prices on the U.S. market.

France condemned the U.S. sanctions as unjustified and denounced Washington's decision to take unilateral action without the GATT world trade body.

"There is no question of our negotiating or of our accepting any agreement whatsoever while submitting to a national law that does not conform to international rules," Balladur said.

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