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Bush, Kerry Square-Off on Free Trade


President Bush and his likely Democratic rival Senator John Kerry both say they believe free-trade agreements are important in keeping the United States a strong force in the global economy -- but they differ on the effect such pacts are having on U.S. jobs.

The debate comes at a time when some U.S. companies, especially in the manufacturing sector, have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs overseas.

Mr. Kerry says the Bush administration has done nothing to end incentives that encourage manufacturers to move their jobs overseas. He also says President Bush has failed to crack down on countries that violate trade laws or manipulate currency.

He says if elected, he will not sign any new trade agreements until all existing pacts have been reviewed to make sure U-S trading partners are meeting their obligations.

President Bush says he believes free trade means more American jobs, both at home and abroad. He says free trade agreements level the playing field for American companies to sell their goods around the world.

He says by making the United States the best place to do business, both foreign and domestic companies are more likely to keep or create jobs in the United States.