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Bush Pushes For Trade Negotiating Powers in US Heartland - 2002-01-15

President Bush goes to the port of New Orleans, Louisiana Tuesday to push his campaign for greater trade negotiating authority from Congress. It's the last stop on a three-state tour designed to highlight his domestic agenda.

The president says trade and tax cuts can help reverse the U.S. economic recession. And he is pushing both in this trip to towns and cities along the Mississippi River, from the agricultural heartland to the port of New Orleans.

His itinerary traces the movement of farm products from the fields of the Midwest to the southern port where they are shipped overseas.

The aim is two-fold: to convince the public that he is not neglecting Americans hard hit by the recession and to put pressure on the U.S. Congress.

Several of his legislative priorities remain stalled in the legislature. And the president is clearly hoping to translate his popularity as commander-in-chief to a series of legislative victories on Capitol Hill.

At each public appearance on this tour, he begins by talking about domestic security and his strong stand against those who would harm the United States. "We are not going to tire. We are not going to be impatient," he said. "We are going to do whatever it takes to find them and bring them to justice. They think they can hide but they are not going to hide from the mighty reach of the United States and the coalition we have put together."

He then shifts to the domestic agenda, focusing on steps he says will lead to economic growth. In Aurora, Missouri he talked about the importance of spurring international trade, particularly for the farm sector.

The Senate must still act on legislation that would give the president enhanced trade negotiating powers. Administration officials say it will encourage other nations to strike new deals and open their markets. Mr. Bush told farmers in Missouri that the U.S. agreement with China is a good example.

"Look at the agreement. We have opened up the Chinese market to U.S. farmers. It is good for China. And more importantly it is good for the U.S. farmers to have that market available."

Meanwhile, the White House is taking a close look at a ruling handed down Monday by the World Trade Organization in a case brought against the United States by the European Union.

A WTO appeals panel ruled against a U.S. law granting multi-billion dollar tax breaks to thousands of American companies operating overseas. The panel ruled the tax breaks amount to an export subsidy.

The ruling clears the way for the EU to ask for billions of dollars in punitive tariffs on U.S. imports. Chief U.S. trade negotiator Robert Zoellick says the Bush administration is looking for a way to resolve the dispute. He says the administration was disappointed with the ruling, but will fulfill its obligations under the WTO.