Bush in business

Published: Saturday 31 August 2002

us President George W Bush is set to win more power to negotiate trade agreements. A bill that seeks to vest such 'fast-track authority' or 'trade promotion authority' in the President recently received approval from the house of representatives. Congress voted 215 to 212 to restore presidential power to negotiate business deals. There are strong indications that the proposed legislation will sail through the senate too.

While this gives business lobbyists cause to cheer, many free-trade advocates have condemned the bill's approval. Their apprehension may not be unfounded since Bush has, in the past, yielded to protectionist pressure. His imposing stiff duties on Canadian lumber, raising steel tariffs and promoting the biased us farm bill that substantially increased subsidy payments to us farmers are instances of this.

Consequently, there are grave doubts about Bush's willingness to strike new accords that lower trade and investment barriers. Against such a backdrop, the us administration's resolve to secure a global accord by 2005 among the 144 World Trade Organisation (wto) member nations or a regional pact among the countries of the western hemisphere may also weaken.

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