Wednesday, March 28th 2001 - 21:00 UTC

New “fast track” bill.

A fast track bill to give US president George W. Bush permanent authorization to negotiate international trade agreements was presented by Republican Senators in the US Congress.

The bill has full support from the Senate's Finance Committee president Pat Roberts, who underlined the importance of such legislation particularly when US economic expansion has began to weaken and "our competitors are advancing aggressively into foreign markets". The bill proposes modifications to the 1998 US Trade Bill by extending unlimited time to the "fast track" mechanism that enables the White House to deal directly with foreign governments or blocks. Congress can only accept or reject the complete final draft, and is banned from introducing amendments. The last president to have been granted the current "fast track" legislation, limited in time, was George Bush Sr., for the Nafta (North America Freee Trade Association) negotiations, finally signed and effective in 1994 under his successor Bill Clinton. During his eight years tenure President Bill Clinton tried unsuccessfully on two occasions to obtain the "fast track", virtually impeding his administration's progress in the Americas Free Trade Association negotiations.

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