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International Trade

Bush Signs Fast Track Trade Bill

President Bush signed legislation August 6 that reestablished fast track trade negotiating authority for the president. The legislation gives the administration power to negotiate foreign trade agreements that Congress would have 90 days to approve or reject, but could not amend.

Fast track trade negotiating authority was last used by President Clinton to gain approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which applies to trade between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. When its fast track authority expired in 1994, the Clinton administration tried to renew it but was unsuccessful. 

The new legislation signed by Bush, termed the Trade Act of 2002, was approved in the House on July 27 by a vote of 215-212, and in the Senate on August 1 by a vote of 66-34.

"With each passing day, America has lost trading opportunities, and the jobs and earnings that go with them. Starting now, America is back at the bargaining table in full force," Bush said at the bill signing ceremony.

The administration is expected to use its authority to gain congressional approval of bilateral trade pacts with Singapore and Chile. It is also expected to submit to Congress a broader Free Trade Area of the Americas pact, a free trade zone modeled after NAFTA.

- 08/06/02

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