Administration signals willingness to work with Democrats on trade

Tuesday, November 28th 2006, 2:07 pm
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush's top trade negotiator said Tuesday that the recent takeover of Congress by Democrats would not derail the administration's aggressive trade agenda.

In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab warned against any move toward protectionist trade policies spurred by the country's record trade deficits.

Many Democrats campaigned against Bush's trade policies in the November congressional elections, saying the administration had failed to do enough to halt the loss of manufacturing jobs to low-wage foreign countries such as China.

The Democratic takeover of the House and Senate has raised speculation that the administration's trade agenda will face serious obstacles in the new Congress.

Schwab said the administration still hoped to win approval this year for legislation needed to normalize trade relations with Vietnam and planned to wrap up talks on free trade agreements with South Korea and Malaysia early next year.

``There are those in the extremes of both parties willing to preach a retreat into protectionism and economic isolation,'' Schwab said in her speech. She said nothing could be more harmful to the American economy.