NAFTA VOTE MAY BRING CONCESSIONS, FRENCH SAY

NAFTA VOTE MAY BRING CONCESSIONS, FRENCH SAY

Passage by U.S. lawmakers of the North American Free Trade Agreement may bring U.S. concessions in current global trade talks on such sensitive issues as culture and agriculture, French officials said.

A Nafta provision giving special treatment to the so-called cultural industry in Canada means the United States can no longer justify refusing similar demands from France in the Uruguay Round trade talks, they said.U.S. officials, however, insist that no concessions will be forthcoming as a result of Nafta, a politically prudent stance since many of the same free- trade skeptics in Congress could be voting next year on legislation to implement the Uruguay Round.

But Paris was particularly heartened by comments made in Washington Thursday by Gene Moos, undersecretary for agriculture, acknowledging that the United States is prepared to at least discuss European concerns regarding the U.S.-European Community Blair House farm subsidies reduction deal.

The mood within the French government is one of "prudent expectation" that a compromise can be reached, one official said.

France has vowed to reject any global trade deal negotiated under the Uruguay Round that contains the year-old farm pact as it currently stands. It said that deal puts unfair constraints on the country's ability to export agricultural products should the international market expand.

Mr. Moos' comments were greeted here as a symbolic gesture toward the EC, and especially France, and an indication that the Clinton administration is determined to reach a deal by the Dec. 15 deadline.

On Friday, however, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said the United States will not renegotiate Blair House.

Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur seems to be preparing for the political fallout from an eventual Uruguay Round deal from members of his own party and leaders of France's farm and film lobbies.

Last week he met with the heads of the country's main farm organizations. A hefty 1.5 billion French franc ($254 million) financial package offered to farmers fell suspiciously at a time when the government does not need noisy demonstrations and other public pressure tactics.

And at a luncheon last week with a number of prominent members of the film industry, including actresses Isabelle Huppert, Brigitte Fossey and director Jean-Claude Carriere, Mr. Balladur discussed the parallels between the French and Canadian concerns about preserving national culture.