FUTURE OF THE OECD SHIPBUILDING AGREEMENT
The OECD Council Working Party on Shipbuilding met in Paris on 21 and 22 October 1998 to consider the future of the OECD Shipbuilding Agreement after the US Congress adjourned without passing legislation which would have allowed the United States to ratify the Agreement.
The United States is the only party to the Agreement which has yet to ratify it, and this is preventing its entry into force. The other parties, the European Commission (on behalf of the members states of the EU), Japan, Korea and Norway have already ratified the Agreement.
All Delegations (including that of the United States) reaffirmed their desire for the OECD Agreement to come into force as quickly as possible. The United States Delegation also confirmed the United States Administration's commitment to continuing its efforts to secure the Agreement's ratification when the United States Congress reconvenes in 1999.
As an interim measure, Delegations agreed to consider alternative ways of bringing the Agreement into force, even without the United States, in order that the shipbuilding industry may benefit from the stability which the Agreement is expected to bring with it.
While the Working Party was not in a position to reach a final decision, there was agreement among Delegations that they would undertake extensive consultations in their respective capitals and that the Working Party would meet again in early 1999 with the express purpose of considering the future of the OECD Shipbuilding Agreement.
Delegations at the meeting were advised that the provisions of the Shipbuilding Agreement could enter into force, as an interim measure, among the four parties that have already ratified the Agreement, through either an international legal instrument known as a Protocol or an OECD Decision. This would allow the Agreement to operate until the United States also ratifies it, at which time the Shipbuilding Agreement would enter fully into force.
The adoption of either a Protocol or a Decision would also allow the Working Party to enter into discussions with other shipbuilding countries, such as Poland and Romania, which have expressed interest in becoming parties to the Agreement, so that they might adopt the Protocol and be covered by the provisions of the Shipbuilding Agreement.
Delegations are expected to consider all the options in detail at their first meeting in 1999.