Officials Say Free-Trade Agreement on Track for Passage by End of Year
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The free-trade agreement with Mexico and Canada is on course for passage by Congress by the end of the year, administration officials said Tuesday, denying the pact is in serious trouble.
Trade Representative Mickey Kantor said that by midsummer the administration will work out supplemental measures to protect U.S. workers and the environment and that it was "highly likely" Congress would approve the pact by the end of the year.
"We still intend to meet the goal of a Jan. 1, 1994, implementation," Kantor told reporters after a meeting with Florida congressional members.
"Neither our position nor that of the administration has changed," Commerce Secretary Ron Brown said in a statement. "The North American Free Trade Agreement, with good supplemental agreements now in the process of being negotiated, will open markets, increase American exports and create American jobs. It will boost our economy and benefit American workers."
Brown and Kantor were reacting to comments by Budget Director Leon Panetta on Monday that the administration does not now have the votes to pass the trade agreement.
Also on Monday, Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen, in a speech to the Independent Bankers Association of America, said "NAFTA is in for a rough ride."
House Speaker Thomas S. Foley, D-Wash., agreed Tuesday that the treaty "would have problems" if it came up before side agreements have been approved. …