WASHINGTON — U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor said Monday that President Clinton planned to send a letter to Congress later in the day asking that the implementing legislation for the GATT Uruguay Round treaty be approved this year.
By 5:30 p.m. Monday, however, the letter had not yet been sent, a White House spokesman said. Kantor mentioned the letter in a morning speech to the Council on the Americas.
Last week, Leon Panetta, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the administration planned to submit the implementing legislation to Capitol Hill by mid-June.
In the wake of increased grumblings from Congress about GATT and the accompanying creation of the World Trade Organization, which will replace it, the President’s anticipated letter would be the first step in an administration campaign to win GATT support, a USTR spokeswoman said.
That campaign will include meetings between Kantor and members of Congress, and speeches to the public.
“We’ll be putting the big press on,” the spokeswoman said. She noted that the pro-GATT campaign would not be as organized as the campaign for the North American Free Trade Agreement waged last year because GATT “does not have as many enemies fighting as strongly as NAFTA did.”
Meanwhile, 55 members of the House sent a letter to Clinton last Thursday urging that consideration of GATT be put off until 1995 for a number of reasons. Those reasons included: difficulties finding the money needed to offset the loss of tariff revenue; questions of U.S. sovereignty under the WTO; the pressing Congressional calendar that already includes health care, welfare reform and the budget; labor and human rights concerns about GATT and environmental protection provisions of GATT.
The USTR dismissed the letter on the grounds that 41 of the 55 who signed it voted against NAFTA and so are “nay-sayers on any free-trade agreement.”