WASHINGTON - United States Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick issued the following statement after Senate passage of bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority legislation:
"Today we are delighted that the Senate joined the House of Representatives in passing a Trade Promotion Authority bill that affirms and advances the President's initiative to open markets.
"Open trade is at the foundation of President Bush's strategy to advance hope, opportunity, prosperity, and the rule of law to benefit Americans and others around the world.
"TPA will provide the Administration with the tools to pry open markets and negotiate the best deals for our workers, farmers, and consumers. We urge the Congress to move expeditiously to a conference committee and provide the President with Trade Promotion Authority.
"Last year in Doha, Qatar, American leadership was vital to launching new global trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization, reversing the failed effort in Seattle in 1999. We also achieved the historic entry of China and Taiwan into the WTO, culminating a 15-year long effort. And Congress passed a Free Trade Agreement with Jordan and a basic trade agreement with Vietnam.
"Last year, the President began the tough push to restore the Administration's fundamental authority to negotiate trade agreements. Congress last granted the President this trade negotiating authority in 1991, and that legislation expired in 1994. Congress tried twice in 1997 and 1998 to restore this Trade Promotion Authority. Last December, the House passed a TPA bill similar to the bill the Senate just passed.
"The President needs TPA to continue promoting trade liberalization: with the ongoing Doha global trade negotiations; in the Free Trade Area of the Americas negotiations; with Free Trade Agreements pending with Chile and Singapore; and with potential FTA negotiations with Central America, Morocco, and others.
"Along with TPA, the Senate also has acted on three other important trade bills. The new Andean Trade Preference Act will extend and expand legislation passed in 1991 to provide special access to the U.S. market for Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia as they struggle to build fragile democracies, expand economic growth, and counter narcotics trafficking. The renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences will continue our successful efforts to assist the developing world's economic development by allowing poorer countries to sell more of their products in America. And reauthorizing Trade Adjustment Assistance will help address the needs of workers in a changing world economy.
"I want to thank Senators Baucus and Grassley for their leadership on this important legislation, and Majority Leader Daschle and Minority Leader Lott for their efforts and support. In addition, I appreciate the critical assistance of Senator Gramm and Senator Breaux in bringing this bipartisan bill to conclusion."