Leadership needed to ease trade tension

Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Despite the conciliatory rhetoric, President Bush's (recent) meeting with European leaders at the White House ... reportedly did little to ease growing trans-Atlantic trade tensions. The European Union threat to retaliate in June for the punitive tariffs Bush recently imposed against steel imports is still on the table.

That retaliation, if carried out, will hit close to home. Washington and Oregon agricultural products are among the some $335 million in American exports in the EU's cross hairs.

But this threatened tit-for-tat retaliation, by itself, isn't likely to bankrupt Northwest farmers or any other businesses in the nation. It's the free-trade meltdown some economists fear it could foreshadow that should concern us most. ...

Now Congress is preparing to raise the stakes with an election-year farm bill that dramatically increases subsidies for American farmers and ranchers.

The bill's proposed subsidy boost -- more than $50 billion -- angers foreign trading partners. ...

Trade liberalization cannot continue to move forward without America's leadership. And keeping this process moving is critical to growing America's economy. The president has said as much. He should act accordingly and encourage Congress to do the same.

-- The Daily News, Longview, Wash.

May 6

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