Congressman Wes Watkins Attends WTO Meeting In Seattle

Friday, December 3rd 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Oklahoma Congressman Wes Watkins says protests and riots have not prevented progress to be made at the World Trade Organization's conference in Seattle. "Overall, our congressional delegation has had some very productive meetings with members of foreign trade delegations.

Watkins, a Republican from Stillwater said "we are trying to raise the awareness of our trading partners that free trade has to be fair trade, and we're finding some common ground that could promote the opening of foreign markets to U.S. products."

He said he urged Chinese Trade Minister Shi Guangsheng to quickly implement the trade agreement China recently reached with the United States. Under that agreement, he said, tariffs on American beef will be reduced from 45% to 12% and the quota for U.S. wheat imports will be increased from 2-million metric tons to 9-million metric tons. Watkins says "that's very good news for Oklahoma farmers and ranchers."

Watkins said he had told officials with the European Union to end a ban on U.S. beef exports, which has been declared illegal by the WTO. "I told them that free trade isn't free unless it is a two-way street, and that keeping their markets closed to U.S. products will erode support in Congress for the WTO."