- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 7, 2002

President Bush signed hard-fought legislation yesterday that, after an eight-year lapse, restores to U.S. presidents broad authority in negotiating trade pacts.
"America is back in the business of promoting open trade," he declared.
The new law allows Mr. Bush to negotiate trade agreements that Congress would have 90 days to approve or reject but not amend, "giving other countries the confidence to negotiate with us," the president explained.
Claiming trade powers that eluded former President Clinton in his second term, Mr. Bush set a course for an ambitious round of free-trade deals that he said would help revitalize the U.S. economy.
"I will use trade-promotion authority aggressively to create more good jobs for American workers, more exports for American farmers and higher living standards for American families," he said.
With his chief trade negotiator, Robert B. Zoellick, sharing the East Room stage, Mr. Bush said his administration would move swiftly toward pacts with Chile, Singapore and Morocco. Australia is also on deck for a free-trade deal, he said, and agreements with Central America and southern Africa will follow.
The enhanced negotiating authority, often called "fast-track," was given to the president in 1974, and Mr. Clinton used it to forge the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. The authority expired in 1994.
After some personal arm-twisting in late-night calls to lawmakers, Mr. Bush won Congress' approval to reinstate it last week with a vote of 215 to 212 in the House and 66 to 34 in the Senate.
The new authority expires in June 2005, with an additional two years allowed for trade deals already in the works at that time. The law includes a 10-year, $12 billion program for helping workers who lose their jobs because of trade. It also renews a program of low tariffs with Colombia and three other Andean nations, designed to help their economies while making them less reliant on the narcotics trade.

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