Bush optimistic on trade talks

Monday, November 5, 2001

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration thnks it can succeed where the Clinton administration failed in launching global trade talks.

The administration is mindful that two years ago, the Clinton economic team also was optimistic about progress. That hope disappeared in a cloud of tear gas as thousands of anti-globalization protesters scored a huge victory when the negotiations collapsed in Seattle.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick will head the American delegation for the discussions with 141 other nations, Friday in Qatar.

Qatar was the only country willing to serve as host for the World Trade Organization meetings after Seattle, and WTO officials now are worried about possible terrorist attacks in a region where anger about the U.S. bombing campaign against Afghanistan runs high.

The U.S. delegation has been scaled down. Many members of Congress and representatives of U.S. companies who planned to attend backed out after getting security briefings that detailed the level of threats.

The Bush administration insists it learned valuable lessons from the Clinton team's failures in Seattle. For one, the length of the document that will set the agenda for a new round of trade talks is 12 pages, compared with the 30-plus pages of draft text before trade ministers in Seattle.

Left purposely vague are details about the items to be covered in the upcoming negotiations.

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