Kantor Opposes Singapore's Bid for Key Summit

From Reuters

In what some analysts said could be retribution for its caning of an American teen-ager, U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor said Monday he would oppose Singapore's bid to be host of a key international trade summit.

The analysts said the gesture, in essence a slap in the face, would deliver a sharp diplomatic message to Singapore without jeopardizing lucrative U. S.-Singapore commercial relations.

Singapore wants to hold the first ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) when the body comes into being next year. The WTO will take over from the GATT and effectively police world trade.

But despite Singapore's strong pitch and public optimism that it would win the race to host the huge trade gathering, U. S. opposition would effectively kill its chances, analysts said.

When asked if his decision to block Singapore was expressly related to the caning dispute, Kantor said only, "I have made myself quite clear."

But when Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister Yeo Chow Tong put forward his country's bid at a GATT meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, last month, a U. S. source said there could be resistance from Washington because of the caning.

The State Department summoned Singapore's Ambassador S. R. Nathan, and State Department spokeswoman Christine Shelly said Assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord "emphasized that this incident will have to be taken into account in the overall relationship between the United States and Singapore."

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