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American Shipper

INDUSTRY APPLAUDS BUSH’s PROMOTION OF HEMISPHERIC TRADE BLOC

INDUSTRY APPLAUDS BUSHÆS PROMOTION OF HEMISPHERIC TRADE BLOC

   President Bush told executives and government officials at a meeting of the Organization of American States in Washington Tuesday that his administration backs the development of a hemispheric trade bloc encompassing North and South America and the Caribbean.

   The U.S. government is working with 34 countries to develop the so-called Free Trade Area of the Americas. Negotiations on the FTAA are scheduled for completion in January 2005. “It will make our hemisphere the largest free trade area in the world,” Bush said.

   Industry groups with an eye to expand trade opportunities and to make cross-border cargo flows more efficient throughout the hemisphere applaud the administration’s commitment to the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

   “We welcome this policy from the administration, and we hope it continues to be backed by serious action,” said Francisco X. Santeiro, managing director of global services in Latin America and the Caribbean for Federal Express, and chairman of the customs committee for the Conferecia Latino Americana de Companias Express (CLADEC).

   “We’re pleased with the progress that this is making and that it is high on the president’s priority list so early in the administration,” said Alan Atkinson, spokesman for the Joint Industry Group. “We have high hopes for a successful outcome for the FTAA.”

   To help in the development of trade agreements, President Bush is pursuing fast-track authority to allow him to negotiate trade deals, which he would submit to Congress for vote.

   “Trade promotion authority gives our trading partners confidence that they can rely on the deals that they negotiate,” Bush said. “It allows us to seize opportunities to expand the circle of trade and prosperity.”

   The Bush administration is preparing for the Summit of the Americas meeting in Quebec City, Canada, on April 20-22.

   The president said his administration will also continue to pursue bilateral trade agreements with countries, such as Chile, Singapore and Jordan. “My administration is committed to pursuing open trade at every opportunity,” he said.

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