On radio, president calls anew for expanded White House trade powers


Saturday, April 27th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) _ With the Senate set to debate trade legislation in earnest, President Bush asked lawmakers again Saturday to give him broader powers in negotiating trade pacts. He said it would lift the entire economy.

Bush wants Congress to give him trade promotion authority, which would allow him to negotiate international trade pacts that Congress could approve or reject but could not change. That, he argues, would accelerate agreements by giving other countries more confidence that Congress wouldn't tinker with trade deals the administration negotiated.

Lawmakers have denied presidents that power since 1994, but they appear ready to go along this time, with several conditions. Most important, Democrats are insisting on extending a Trade Adjustment Assistance program that would include new and costly health care benefits along with retraining for workers displaced by imports.

They will begin considering legislation next week.

``I'm pleased that the United States Senate is set to begin an important debate on trade legislation that will help American workers and farmers and consumers,'' Bush said in his weekly radio address Saturday.

``I have traveled around the country and seen the value of trade, and foreign leaders have told me how trade will strengthen security and economic growth in our hemisphere.''

Trade boosts productivity and creates higher-paying jobs, Bush said.

He called for expansion of the Andean Trade Act, which lowers tariffs for products from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, partly to create economic alternatives to cocaine production and drug trafficking.

On Thursday, the Senate began considering that bill, which will become the legislative vehicle for trade promotion authority next week.

``The Andean Trade Preference Act is a good example of how trade can also help increase the security of America,'' Bush said. ``Over the past 10 years, this law has given the four Andean nations more access to our markets, which they report has created 140,000 jobs.''

Bush was leaving his ranch Saturday night to attend, the wedding of his former personal assistant, Logan Walters, in Houston.