Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Donald McConville
At the same time, the Uruguay round of the GATT was being launched and we were being organized for that. There were 15, 16 or more different negotiating groups to conduct the negotiations for the Uruguay round, like agriculture and natural resources and for energy, 15 different groups like this for separate negotiating groups Of those 15, only one was chaired by the State Department; the rest were chaired either by USTR or Commerce and one or two by Agriculture. They were all multi-agency groups. The State Department participated in all the groups, but the only one that was chaired by State was the natural resources negotiation, and I was designated the US negotiator for that. So I was one of the 15 U.S. negotiators. Julius Katz had once been a rather famed Assistant Secretary of State, had a long-time career in the State Department, had come back out of private life as a senior negotiator for these negotiations. In any event, on virtually all of the groups, our office, with a few exceptions, I think, was the State Department representative in the 15 negotiating groups, someone on my staff. Then, as I say, myself, I was actually the chief U.S. negotiator for one of the groups. The Uruguayan Round negotiations, I believe, began about 1991, I think it was, and they were to have a midterm negotiating session where all of the countries would get together again at a ministerial level. The whole thing was supposed to be concluded in four years, two years for the midterm and then two years beyond that. So in the negotiations through the first two years there wasn't an awful lot of progress made. There was a whole series of meeting in Geneva for the natural resources group. I used to have to go over about every two or three months to chair a negotiating round session over there. That's where most of the negotiations were held, in Geneva. But when we did get to the midterm and there was going to be a ministerial, there was a great deal of stress put on having some kind of concrete results achieved by that time, to be able to create the momentum for continuing the negotiations and to signal that they indeed were going to be concluded. The midterm ministerial was scheduled to be held in Montreal, and I was on the US delegation, as were a number of other people in my office. Of course, McAllister was there, and - Ralph Johnson was still around - he was there at that time. Al Larson was the Senior Deputy in EB at that time. He was later on going to be an Assistant Secretary, but he was also involved. I don't think he was in Montreal, because somebody had to stay behind. Those were some of the names that were in it. In any event, I remember that it was about a week up in Montreal while these midterm ministerials were being held, and they were being headed by ministers for all of the participating 130 or 140 governments, whatever, that were involved. And like so many negotiations, they were darkest before the dawn. Some of the simpler issues had gotten resolved. And, I must say, with natural resources, we had concluded our ministerial. In fact, there had been pre-ministerials in Geneva where I had to attend a number of those, both for my own negotiating group but then as a participant in many of the others. It had dragged on and on almost 24 hours a day trying to work out acceptable language. There were about four or five areas that were the major stumbling blocks, agriculture being the biggest of all. These were carried on to Montreal, where they tried to get the ministers to resolve them. It was just sort of halfway, stepping stones, midpoints for the negotiations. The negotiations almost collapsed. In fact, they didn't come to agreement in Montreal, but were hung up on agriculture. There were a couple of other groups that weren't completed, but they were really sort of contingent upon agriculture.