ON a button she's passing out, United States Trade Representative Carla Hills notes that ``The Uruguay Round is not a new dance.'' It is a round of trade talks between 97 nations under the aegis of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Those talks have been the hottest issue discussed by the leaders of the seven major industrial democracies at the 16th annual economic summit that concludes here today.
Mrs. Hills's predecessor, William Brock, claims the round could be ``as consequential as Yalta, Potsdam, and Tehran were in the 1940s'' - meetings that helped shape the postwar order in the world.
That's not only because the talks are aimed at removing multiple restrictions on trillions of dollars of trade. Mr. Brock also sees this round as embracing within the world economic system those nations in Eastern Europe or the third world that have been turning to free markets in an effort to obtain greater prosperity.
``By any standard, this is the world's constitutional convention on trade,'' he maintains. Should an agreement emerge from the round, it would stimulate free and fair trade, fostering ``a new burst of economic growth, job creation, and global prosperity.''
The US accuses the European Community of holding up progress on farm trade issues and thereby endangering the whole Uruguay Round. ``They have simply not been engaged in the process,'' charges Clayton Yeutter, US Secretary of Agriculture and also a former chief US trade negotiator.
Mrs. Hills says 40 nations will walk out of the Uruguay Round if no satisfactory deal on farm exports is reached. Five months remain in the negotiating period.
On another main summit issue, the question of financial assistance for the Soviet Union, the leaders of the US, Japan, Britain, France, West Germany, Italy, and Canada have essentially agreed at the summit to go their own ways, in the short term. For the longer haul, they are expected to announce in a communique a decision to seek a common method for assessing the progress of Soviet economic reforms with an eye on where they can best help.