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Bush Administration Pledges Cooperation With Congressional Democrats on Trade


U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab pledged Tuesday to work with the new Democratic leadership in Congress to secure passage of stalled trade agreements. Barry Wood has more.

Ms. Schwab said her hand is outstretched to any and all members of Congress on the trade agenda. She spoke at a trade forum at the US Chamber of Commerce, a leading advocate of trade liberalization. Some experts have suggested that the triumph of Democrats in recent Congressional elections would set back the cause of free trade. Cal Dooley of the Food Products Association disagrees.

"I really don't think anything has really changed," said Cal Dooley. "We have yet to elect a president in this country who hasn't been advocating an agenda that was pro-trade and pro-liberalization."

Global negotiations to expand trade, the Doha Development round of talks, have been going on for five years but have been deadlocked for many months. Ms. Schwab, President Bush's top trade official, said Washington is holding for a better deal.

"We walked away from a bad deal in July," said Susan Schwab. "We're prepared to walk again if necessary. But we can not let a strong, potentially positive Doha agreement slip through our fingers."

The Doha round has stalled over disagreements on farm trade between rich and poor countries.

Approval of any trade measures requires support of both majority Democrats and President Bush's Republicans. Most analysts say there is little chance for completing the Doha round unless the United States and the 25 European Union member nations first reach agreement on reducing trade distorting agricultural subsidies.