Friday, May 23, 2003

More on bilateral trade
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick late last week said countries that seek free-trade agreements with the United States must pass muster on more than trade and economic criteria in order to be eligible. At a minimum, these countries must cooperate with the United States on its foreign policy and national security goals, as part of 13 criteria that will guide the U.S. selection of potential FTA partners, he said in a May 8 speech.

The U.S. seeks "cooperation -- or better -- on foreign policy and security issues," Zoellick said in a speech to the Institute for International Economics. Given that the U.S. has international interests beyond trade, "why not try to urge people to support our overall policies?" he asked.

Zoellick said that he uses a set of 13 criteria to evaluate potential negotiating partners, but he insisted that there are no formal rules for the selection or any guarantees. "It's not automatic," Zoellick said. Negotiating an FTA with the U.S. "is not something one has a right to. It's a privilege."

[From a pay site called World Trade Online, quoted in the invaluable ABE #250 (not yet online)].

Cf. the reaming we just administered to New Zealand:

A US official's extraordinary attack on the Prime Minister makes it clear that Helen Clark's personal criticism of President George W. Bush cost New Zealand any chance of a free-trade deal.

The US Government spokesman told the Herald last night that personal attacks by Helen Clark on Mr Bush had been "beyond the call".

"You can forgive friends a lot, but in the way the world really operates, personal attacks are beyond the call, particularly from friends," he said.

Helen Clark apologised to the Bush Administration last month for offending the US in saying it would not have invaded Iraq if Al Gore had been President.

In an unusual comment from a senior trade official, Trade Representative Robert Zoellick told the US House of Representatives agriculture committee on Wednesday that there had been "some things done recently that would make [a free-trade agreement] harder to carry" to Congress.

Asked what Mr Zoellick had meant, the spokesman said that, while he could not talk for Mr Zoellick, the way the Iraq issue was handled had raised eyebrows in Washington.

"When already-hoped-for co-operation isn't there and comments get increasingly more strident about 'it has to be the UN, it has to be the UN, it has to be the UN' and then the most responsible person in that Government all of a sudden comes out and sort of personally attacks the President, it's that one step beyond."

The spokesman said his remarks were not intended as a personal attack on the Prime Minister, but as a criticism of her comments and Government policy.

Helen Clark said last night she was "quite astonished".

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