- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2001

U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick pledged yesterday that the Bush administration will pursue its goal of a new round of trade negotiations with renewed vigor, despite widespread speculation that the new anti-terrorism offensive would crowd out other international initiatives.
Mr. Zoellick said the United States still hopes to persuade other countries to kick off new talks at a meeting of the World Trade Organization in the Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar in early November. He argued that free-trade policies complement, rather than complicate, U.S. diplomacy in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington.
"In addition to military actions, we must thrust forward the values that define us against our adversary: openness, peaceful exchange, democracy, the rule of law, compassion and tolerance," Mr. Zoellick said in a speech to the Institute for International Economics in Washington.
In a sign that the fight against terrorism will be economic, as well as military, the Senate approved a long-delayed free-trade agreement with Jordan, a close ally in the new fight against terrorism.
Mr. Zoellick, objecting to rules on labor and environmental standards that the Clinton administration inserted into the pact, held up approval for months. Even after he altered the agreement slightly, Sen. Phil Gramm, Texas Republican, continued to stall a Senate vote, relenting only in the face of pressure from both sides of the aisle to approve the first free-trade deal with an Arab nation.
The pact "serves as a statement that our enemy is terrorism, not the Muslim world," said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.
President Bush will meet with Jordan's King Abdullah II in Washington on Friday.
Preparations for the Nov. 9-13 meeting in Qatar have been in full swing since the summer. WTO members hope to pick up the pieces after a disastrous 1999 meeting of the World Trade Organization in Seattle. But they are still deeply divided over the content of new negotiations, which could include talks on goods, services, agriculture, investment, environmental and health policies.
Shortly after the attacks, Mr. Zoellick said the United States wants the Qatar meeting to go forward, effectively quashing public speculation about whether the meeting will take place. But his statement has done little to curb massive private speculation by trade diplomats at the Geneva-based WTO and nongovernmental groups that the meeting be moved or canceled for security reasons.
Qatar, about 120 miles across the Persian Gulf from Iran, lies in the heart of the region where the United States is now concentrating military power for a strike at terrorist strongholds in Afghanistan.
Mr. Zoellick got a welcome boost from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who told members of Congress last week that a new trade round would be a valuable boost to the U.S. economy.
"A successful round would not only significantly enhance world economic growth, but also answer terrorism with a firm reaffirmation of our commitment to open and free societies," said Mr. Greenspan, who met with Mr. Zoellick last week.
Mr. Zoellick also reiterated that the Bush administration still wants Congress to give President Bush the authority to strike new trade agreements. He said that a small group of Republicans and Democrats had clinched a deal on the specifics of the legislation, but were still wrestling with the timing.
"We're there on substance," Mr. Zoellick said. "It's process now."
But both Republican and Democratic congressional aides were more guarded about the prospects for a deal, which would enable the president to negotiate trade agreements and then submit them to Congress for an up-or-down vote without any amendments.
"We are closely approaching a deal," said Christin Tinsworth, spokeswoman for the House Ways and Means Committee, which handles trade bills.

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