Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

President Technology Trade Restrictions

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

President Technology Trade Restrictions

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush on Thursday further relaxed Cold War trade restrictions on high-technology exports and derided the "flat-earth mentality" of opponents of his drive to reduce global trade barriers.

"When we lift barriers to economic freedom within and among our countries," he said, "we unleash powerful forces of growth and creativity."

Bush made his comments in a speech prepared for delivery to the Council of the Americas, a hemispheric trade and business group.

Hours earlier, the Commerce Department announced an easing of trade restrictions on computers and other products to Western Europe, Japan and Australia covering up to $3 billion annually in foreign sales.

Bush defended his campaign to bring Mexico into a tariff-free trade alliance with the United States and Canada. "We can't achieve this breakthrough by equivocating between the status quo protectionists and the movement for freedom and change," he said.

Trade is a major issue in the presidential race, and Bush has been hammered from all sides of the political spectrum.

Conservative challenge Patrick Buchanan has espoused an "America First" policy to cut foreign aid and protect American jobs by restricting imports.

Bush's campaign for a free-trade zone with Mexico has been attacked by a coalition of labor, consumer and environmental groups on grounds that American firms would move their plants to Mexico, where labor costs are cheaper and environmental standards are weaker.

"You may have heard some suggest that politics will dictate delaying the North American free-trade agreement until after the election," Bush said. "Well, those voices are not speaking for me. ... I've instructed our negotiators to accelerate their work. I believe we can conclude a sound, sensible deal before the election."

Bush said a free-trade area comprising the United States, Canada and Mexico would be the largest market in the world, with 360 million consumers and a $6 trillion economy.

He said American merchandise exports to Mexico have increased by two-thirds over the last three years, while exports of autos, auto parts and telecommunications equipment have doubled. …

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