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Developing Nations Get Negotiating Help

SOFTWARE to help third-world countries in trade negotiations has been designed by the World Bank, in conjunction with the United Nations Development Program. The Software for Market Analysis and Restriction on Trade (SMART) system is available free to governments. SMART diskettes contain data from the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the UN Committee on Trade and Development, and national government data. The only developing country cost is an IBM-compatible personal computer and a modem to receive current information.

The developing world, with very limited resources, has been at a distinct disadvantage when negotiating at GATT sessions.

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Industrialized countries have government departments and negotiating teams devoted to imports and exports, regulations, tariff and non-tariff barriers, as well as production and pricing. They are ready to pounce on violators and to take advantage of sudden opportunities.

SMART fulfills a promise, made by World Bank President Barber Conable at the start of the 1986 Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations, to help developing nations catch up.

Sam Laird, senior economist with the World Bank's International Economics Department developed the program with systems analyst Jerzy Rozanski. ``The concept was to keep it cheap,'' says Mr. Laird.

Even the most non-technical trade ministers can use the trade statistics to determine their potential for penetrating markets in any given country. They can look at the latest tariffs to assess the system of preferences. SMART allows unlimited scenarios for negotiation: changing import requirements for potential trade partners, establishment or restoration of most-favored-nation status, alterations in tariff rates.

``The process is a little like a Russian doll,'' says Laird, ``unscrew it and you'll find another doll inside.'' He emphasizes the ``importance of anticipating responses, especially when negotiating at the Uruguay round. It really helps the negotiators prepare their positions.''

Within the past five months, 60 countries have acquired the software. Even developed countries have it; the United States Departments of Agriculture and Commerce currently use SMART.

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