WASHINGTON -- International bankers lamented the exclusion of financial services from the new GATT treaty but said the trade agreement will help banks anyhow.
"We're very positive about GATT because it bodes well for trade worldwide," said Citibank vice chairman William Rhodes, referring to the agreement reached Wednesday by the 117 members of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
"Banks like to think of themselves as the premier financiers of trade, and we are," he added. "So that area will grow."
Both Mr. Rhodes and Antoine Jeancourt-Galignani, chairman of Banque Indosuez, Pariz, said they were disappointed, though not necessarily surprised, that financial services ultimately were not included in the pact..
"The area of financial services is delicate because it involves regulatory policy," said Mr. Galignani.
"We expect that the process will continue" in the area of financial services, however, added Charles Dallara, managing director of the Institute of International Finance, a trade group representing international lenders. Mr. Galignani is chairman of the group, and Mr. Rhodes, vice chairman.
Eager to Lend Abroad
Mr. Rhodes, who has spent the past decade restructuring bank debt owed by less developed nations, said access to foreign markets - including the less developed countries - is increasingly important to the New York-based Citibank unit of Citicorp and other big institutions.
"I spend more and more of my time on the other side, looking for new opportunities in the developing world," he said. "A number of banks in the 1980s, during the debt crisis, stepped back from the international market. They are now getting back in."