No. 38, László Csaba (1996): Hungary’s trade policy between the Uruguay Round and EU accession

This paper is devoted to a summary view of selected trade policy issues in Hungary in the light of the Uruguay Round. It is precisely the main feature and achievement of the Uruguay Round that it has managed to extend its discipline over and above commodity trade and encapsulate areas and national legislations previously falling outside the scope of international surveillance (Jackson, 1995). Especially the agreements and understanding on subsidies, public procurement, agriculture, sanitary standards, technical barriers to trade and environment underline the transboundary regulatory discipline (Uimonen, 1995) as a new feature of the UR. Thereby, trade policy growingly overlaps and disciplines general macroeconomic policies and regulation alike. In case of Hungary this influence is limited as yet, although its growth is clearly discernible, especially in the laws promulgated in 1995. However, the underlying dynamics has remained under the traditional predominance of domestic considerations and developments over international considerations. This has obvious pros and cons.When the UR was launched in 1986, Hungary had still been a modified centrally planned economy By the time of the concluding Marrakesh ministerial conference, Hungary was facing its second free elections, with the lion’s share of the institutional infrastructure of an OECD-type market economy in place and further legislation already well underway. Therefore, whereas Hungary tended to adopt a very cautious stance in multilateral trade negotiations, actual liberalisation in both trade and non-trade areas processes with big leaps, occasional minor and temporary reversals notwithstanding. The paper discusses the reasons for this “rush” and argues that the enormous efficiency and modernisation gains originates in this very tough and consequent policy line.

Project leader:
László Csaba