GOP: NO PROTECTIONS ON NEW TRADE PACTS

Byline: Joyce Barrett

WASHINGTON--U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor was warned Tuesday that new trade initiatives will not get Congressional approval if they include protections for labor and environment.
Appearing before the Senate Finance Committee to discuss USTR's annual report, Kantor was taken to task about the administration's insistence that a fast-track extension for future free trade talks, including accession of Chile to the North American Free Trade Agreement, cover provisions for labor and environmental protection.
"Fast track needs to be a clean bill," Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa), Senate Trade Subcommittee chairman, told Kantor. "Allowing labor and environment on these bills would be a major setback."
Sen. Bob Packwood (R., Ore.), Finance Committee chairman, issued an even stronger warning. "You won't get Congress to approve a Chile agreement that includes labor and environmental protections," he said.
But Kantor, heeding the political necessity of the Democrats' protecting their alliance with organized labor, said it would be "almost impossible to ask Chile to come into NAFTA without taking on all of the obligations."
Packwood, however, replied that consistency was not the issue.
The opposition of Senate Republicans to any labor and environment provisions could portend difficulties for the pending trade agreements since some in the House, led by Rep. Richard Gephardt (D., Mo.), are insistent that the trade pacts include the side requirements. House Republicans, however, are in accord with their Senate counterparts on excluding labor and environment from trade pacts.
On efforts to broaden trade benefits given the Caribbean countries to put them on a par with Mexico under NAFTA, Kantor backtracked on the administration's endorsement of a bill approved last week by the House Trade Subcommittee. That bill would grant the temporary benefits for 10 years until the island nations could either accede to NAFTA or negotiate bilateral trade agreements with the U.S. Kantor said the administration preferred to see the benefits extended for six years, as originally proposed. Despite the difference, the administration backs the House plan, he said.
Also Tuesday, Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan (D., N.Y.), told Kantor he was seeking to have the World Trade Organization--the new entity replacing GATT--based in Washington to be close to the international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.--Fairchild News Service

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