- The Washington Times - Monday, July 9, 2001

The Bush administration will seek a new round of global negotiations this fall that will aim to tear down barriers to international trade in farm products and services, U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick said in an interview.
Nations are trying to erase what Mr. Zoellick calls "the stain of Seattle," a reference to the chaotic attempt by members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to begin talks in the Pacific Northwest city in 1999. This year, WTO members are headed for the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar from Nov. 9 to 13 to resuscitate international negotiations.
Before he gets to Qatar, Mr. Zoellick will ask Congress to approve trade promotion authority, which allows the president to cut trade deals and submit them to Congress for an up-or-down vote, without amendments. This authority, also known as fast-track, was used to win approval of the Uruguay round of negotiations in 1994, and is needed again, he said.
The world, Mr. Zoellick says, is watching intently.
"We're developing credibility, but other countries want to know whether Congress will back the administration as we move forward," he said.
Laying aside the delicate task of persuading Congress to pass fast-track, Mr. Zoellick will have his hands full in trying to hammer out a compromise deal among the 141 members of the WTO, each of whom has an equal say in plans for new negotiations.
Mr. Zoellick is a State Department veteran who helped assemble the Persian Gulf war coalition in 1990 and 1991. His current task is similar to that one, but without the benefit of a U.N.-style Security Council that has a small membership able to implement important decisions, a senior administration official said.
The complex diplomatic maneuvering has brought a seemingly endless parade of foreign trade officials through Mr. Zoellick's office.
This past week, his office said, Mr. Zoellick wrapped up a particular focus on Africa by meeting or speaking with senior officials from Kenya, Mauritius and Lesotho. The previous week, he met with ministers from South Africa, Ghana and Senegal.
Mr. Zoellick is betting that African countries, and others in the developing world, will be strong supporters of new global talks as they incorporate efforts to promote open trade into their overall economic development strategies. These nations, he said, have the most to lose from the failure to break down international trade barriers.
"The real question is what happens to those developing countries relying on trade to grow if we are unable to promote our open trading system," Mr. Zoellick said.
Since he took office in February, Mr. Zoellick also has traveled to Europe, Asia and Latin America, touting the benefits of a new trade round.
Mr. Zoellick is relying heavily on his decade-long friendship with Pascal Lamy, the trade commissioner for the 15-nation European Union. Known as two like-minded officials who do not suffer fools gladly, Mr. Zoellick and Mr. Lamy speak frequently by telephone, sometimes for hours at a time.
But part of Mr. Zoellick's task will be to bridge the differences between the United States and Europe over the scope of new trade negotiations, a senior administration official said.
The United States "would be delighted" to see a round of trade talks with a straightforward agenda, the U.S. official said. It would aim to improve conditions for trade in agriculture and services, while reducing tariffs and environmentally destructive subsidies. The round also would seek to improve the functioning and openness of the WTO itself.
Europe, by contrast, would like to add potentially complex talks on international investment and antitrust rules. It is also proposing rules that would give nations broader authority to curtail agricultural imports on scientific grounds, a move the United States opposes.

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