NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

U.S. No Longer A Free Trade Leader?

April 18, 2002

Worldwide, there are 150 regional free trade and customs agreements. The U.S. is party to only three. This situation causes free trade advocates to question just how committed to open markets the U.S. really is -- despite its lip service to the concept.

Trade-related legislation is bottled up in the Senate by the chamber's Democratic leadership, free-trade proponents charge.

  • A fast-track bill which would grant President Bush authority to negotiate trade agreements subject only to an up or down vote -- without amendments -- is languishing.
  • The Andean Trade Preference Act -- after a decade of helping Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia counter the narcotics trade -- will come unraveled after May 16, without decisive action in the Senate.
  • The Generalized System of Preferences -- which has been helping the poorest countries export to the U.S. market since 1974 -- expired last September and awaits renewal by the Senate.
  • Important amendments to the African Growth and Opportunity Act have passed the House and now await Senate action.

Failure to act on these measures could devastate thousands of businesses in small, struggling democracies, critics charge.

Source: Robert B. Zoeilick (U.S. trade representative), "Falling Behind on Free Trade," New York Times, April 14, 2002.


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