vieuxcmaq, Miércoles, Diciembre 20, 2000 - 12:00

Michael Dolan (

The new Administration needs Fast Track in order to expand NAFTA throughout the hemisphere (see NYT story below). The transnational corporate 'free trade' lobby will make Fast Track its highest legislative priority in the new Congress. Our challenge is to repeat the victories of '97 and '98 when we frustrated the Clinton White House, Big Business and the Republican congressional leadership by defeating Fast Track in the House of Representatives.

We can meet this challenge only by organizing at the grassroots level, targeting undecided congress-members, especially Democrats, starting immediately.

U.S. based activists: please activate your Fair Trade networks now, while the Congress is still in recess, and make your opposition to FTAA and Fast Track loud and visible.

For more information about FTAA and Fast Track, please don't hesitate to access our web-site,

From the December 18, 2000
New York Times

He may not be comfortable discussing unrest in East Timor, or pronouncing the name of the leaders of Turkmenistan, but President-elect George W. Bush considers the rest of the Western Hemisphere "our backyard" and will have several opportunities in his first year in office to make Latin America a trade and foreign policy priority.

During the campaign, Mr. Bush said he would kickstart the stalled process of getting a free trade agreement of the Americas signed by 2005. The agreement would build on the North American Free Trade Agreement, which went into effect in 1994, and would unite 34 of the countries in North, Central and South America into what President Clinton once said would be "the world's largest market."

The first order of business would be a bruising battle in a divided Congress over fast-track authority, the legislative tool that Mr. Bush will need to negotiate a comprehensive trade deal. Under fast track, trade deals are brought to Congress for approval only when complete. Congress then votes on the agreement without having the chance to add amendments that suit the needs and wishes of individual members.

"I'd expect that within the first 100 days in office he'll propose approval of fast-track authority," said Sidney Weintraub, an economist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former>deputy assistant secretary of state for international finance and development.

Even though Republicans narrowly control the House of Representatives, Mr. Bush will need to reach across the aisle to Democrats for help in getting fast-track authority approved. Mr. Weintraub expects that the need for bipartisan cooperation will provide Democrats an opportunity to attach environmental and labor standards to the bill, although Mr. Bush has made it clear that he does not support such standards if they are too rigidly drawn.

In negotiating a trade deal, Mr. Bush would also have to heed strongly voiced opposition to such side agreements from some Latin American nations, led by Brazil, that fear that labor and environmental standards attached to a trade deal could be used as protectionist shields by American businesses that feel threatened by Latin American competition.

In a campaign speech in Miami in August, Mr. Bush said the Clinton administration dropped the ball on Latin America after losing the legislative battle to win fast-track authority. In the speech, he said that by the time the third Summit of the Americas meets, a fast-track bill will already have been introduced in Congress.

"When the next president sits at the Americas Summit in Quebec next April, other nations must know that fast-track authority is on the way," he said during the campaign.

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