By  on June 21, 1994

WASHINGTON -- In letters to chairmen of the House and Senate committees with jurisdiction over trade, a group of 38 retailers urged that the GATT agreement of the Uruguay Round be approved this year because a delay until 1995 could "decrease its chances of passage."

Coordinated by the National Retail Federation, the identical letters, dated June 17, to Rep. Sam Gibbons (D., Fla.), acting chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D., N.Y.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, urged them to "expedite congressional passage of legislation to implement the GATT Uruguay Round trade agreement so that it may go into effect Jan. 1, 1995, as intended."

Congress has until July 1, 1995, to consider GATT implementing legislation, but trade leaders have said they would prefer to see it passed this year.

Time, however, is already running short on the legislative calendar, and Gibbons said during a Monday meeting of the House Trade Subcommittee that health care reform would take first priority on Ways and Means' agenda.

Acting chairman of the House Trade Subcommittee Robert Matsui (D., Calif.), said he wants the subcommittee to complete its work on the implementing legislation this month before Congress adjourns for a week-long July 4 holiday.

In July, the full Ways and Committee is to take up the bill. Nothing has been scheduled in the Senate Finance Committee, which has been consumed with the health care debate.

The administration already has missed a self-imposed mid-June deadline for submitting the final version of implementing legislation to Capitol Hill.

Matsui said it would be "ambitious" to think that the House could complete work on GATT before it adjourns for its month-long August recess.

Among retailers signing the letters were Joseph Antonini, chairman, president and ceo, Kmart Corp.; Bernard F. Brennan, chairman and ceo, Montgomery Ward & Co. Inc.; William R. Chaney, chairman, Tiffany & Co.; Donald G. Fisher, chairman and ceo, The Gap; Thomas A. Hays, deputy chairman, The May Department Stores Co.; Sally Frame Kasaks, chairman and ceo, Ann Taylor Stores Corp.; William K. Lavin, vice chairman and ceo, Woolworth Corp.; Arthur C. Martinez, chairman and ceo, Sears Merchandise Group; Allen Questrom, chairman and ceo, Federated Department Stores; John J. Shea, vice chairman, president and ceo, Spiegel Inc.; Myron E. Ullman 3rd, chairman and ceo, R.H. Macy & Co., and Robert Ulrich, chairman and ceo, Dayton Hudson Corp.

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