Chinese Trade Agreement Faces Battle in Congress
Guide Extra: 11/15/99Early today (11/15/99), President Clinton announced the finalization of trade agreements between the United States and China that will make it possible for China to join the World Trade Organization.
Under the terms of the agreement, China will remove its existing trade barriers and be granted permanent normal trade relations (NTR) status by the U.S., thus allowing Beijing favored access to U.S. markets.
Permanent NTR status used to be called "most favored nation" status and would ensure goods from China the same reduced-tariff rates as products from most other nations. This will allow U.S. businesses to take advantage of China's agreement to reduce its tariffs and lower its other barriers to trade.
However, and this is a very large "however", the Chinese trade agreement must be approved by a Congress that may very well be reluctant to do so.
Many Democrats in Congress oppose any Chinese trade agreements without associated promises from China to improve its stance on human rights, labor, and environmental controls. Republicans are still concerned over alleged spying by the Chinese at U.S. nuclear research labs. Republican leadership has also indicated its reluctance to approve any major initiatives put forth by a President they voted to impeach earlier this year.
Since the end of the impeachment trial , Congress has:
- Failed to support U.S. participation in the NATO air attacks against Yugoslavia;
- Rejected the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty;
- Failed to approve funding for payment of the U.S.' back dues to the United Nations;
all measures supported by President Clinton.
Existing opposition in Congress, coupled with the need to debate the issue during an election year, leave opening the Chinese trade gates far from a done deal.
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