Baucus Hails Final Passage of U.S.-Singapore and U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Acts
I am pleased that the Senate has today passed legislation to implement the U.S.-Singapore and U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreements by impressive margins. This important accomplishment will move our tradeagenda in a very positive direction. President Clinton chose wisely when he turned to Singapore and Chile aspartners in a new U.S. effort to negotiate bilateral trade agreements. I commend the Bush Administration forfollowing through and completing the negotiations.
I have long supported free trade with Singapore and Chile. Singapore is the United States’ 12thlargest trading partner and a regional hub for trade in Southeast Asia. Chile is a significant U.S. tradingpartner, and a model for the way that open markets and economic reform can spur growth and developmentin developing countries. That is why, even before we passed the Trade Act last year, I introduced legislationgranting fast-track specifically for a Singapore or Chile free trade agreement.
We need trade agreements that create opportunities for our farmers, workers, and businesses. TheUnited States has lost more than 2 million manufacturing jobs since the beginning of 2001. Expanding tradewill help create new jobs to replace them – but only if we negotiate with countries – like Singapore and Chile– that are commercially significant.
These are the first trade agreements the Senate has considered under the renewed fast-trackprocedures in the Trade Act of 2002 adopted last year during my Chairmanship of the Finance Committee.They are the first agreements to be held to the new and progressive standards included in that Act. In areasfrom intellectual property, services, and e-commerce to agriculture, labor, and environment, they are trulystate-of-the-art. That does not mean the Singapore and Chile texts will work for agreements with othercountries. There is no one--fits-all trade agreement. There is always room to improve. Moreimportantly, it is critical that agreements change to reflect different circumstances and different levels of thedevelopment in the countries with which we negotiate.
Today’s votes show that the right combination of good commercial prospects, strong trade disciplines,and effective consultations between Congress and the Administration can lead to agreements that gain supportacross the political spectrum. The votes are a good step in the process of rebuilding a pro-trade consensus in theCongress and in the country. They bode well for the future.
Next Article Previous Article