September 15, 2005

Senate rejects trade measures opposed by House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly
rejected an amendment on Thursday that the Bush administration
warned would have weakened its ability to negotiate a
comprehensive world trade deal.

The Senate voted 60-39 against the measure offered by Sen.
Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat who is a longtime foe of
trade agreements, which he blames for the skyrocketing U.S.
trade deficit and many job losses.

Dorgan's measure was aimed at preventing U.S. trade
negotiators from agreeing to change any laws that allow the
United States to impose duties against unfairly priced or
subsidized imports.

It would have accomplished that goal by blocking funding
for any trade negotiations involving the U.S. laws.

The Bush administration warned the provision would greatly
diminish chances of reaching an ambitious world trade deal by
giving other countries an excuse not to negotiate in sectors
they want to keep shielded from U.S. competition.

"With the strong bipartisan rejection of the Dorgan
amendment today, the Senate cast a vote in favor of the U.S.
working to knock down unfair trade barriers that hurt American
business and farmers," U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman
said in a statement.

The Bush administration agreed to negotiations on U.S.
anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws when the latest round
of world trade talks was launched in 2001. Many other countries
view the measures as an unfair trade barrier and want to
discipline Washington's ability to use them.

That angered Dorgan and many other lawmakers who oppose any
weakening of the trade remedy measures. Most trade experts
expect the United States will have to agree to changes in the
laws as part of any new world trade deal.

"If we're going to be successful in agriculture (trade
negotiations), we've got to have a broad number of issues on
the table," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles
Grassley, an Iowa Republican who played a key role in rounding
up opposition to the Dorgan amendment.

The Senate voted 99-0 for an alternative proposal by
Grassley that was milder than Dorgan's measure.