Kantor Forms Trade Unit to Monitor Treaties
Woellert, Lorraine, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor yesterday said he is creating a unit in his office that will be devoted solely to policing trade pacts.
The announcement marks a recent shift in the administration's trade policy to a harder line against perceived violations of trade agreements. The effort is aimed at appeasing labor groups, which opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement because of fears it would cause job losses.
"The best way to build confidence in the trade agreements we negotiate is to enforce them," Mr. Kantor said in a National Press Club speech yesterday. "Let's not forget what's at stake: the jobs of millions of American workers."
The announcement came the same day that a shake-up in the Japanese government made it likely that Japan's hard-line trade minister, Ryutaro Hashimoto, will become prime minister. Mr. Hashimoto's tough stance in automobile trade talks last year caused the United States to walk away with an agreement of little substance.
Japan is one of three trading partners that get priority enforcement attention, Mr. Kantor said. The others are Canada and the 15-nation European Union.
Mr. Kantor yesterday praised Mr. Hashimoto's ability and said the two are "friends" in response to questions after his speech.
The enforcement unit, to be led by Jane Bradley, a lawyer in the office who is on assignment at the White House, will begin its work as soon as the partial government shutdown ends, Mr. Kantor said.
The unit is likely to first examine China's piracy of intellectual property, such as computer software and music recordings. It also will look at the 80 percent tax that Canada imposes on advertising in Canadian editions of Sports Illustrated magazine. The European Union's promises to open its markets to American grain will also be scrutinized, Mr. Kantor said.
"Countries are on notice not to violate our trade agreements," Mr. Kantor said. "We will not tolerate failure to abide by agreements."
Mr. Kantor said the enforcement team will consist of six trade experts on staff and being paid under the current budget. "All these people are already here; we're just shifting resources."
More than 180 trade deals have been closed by the Clinton administration, Mr. …