Congress Must Address Fair Trade

The article ``Clinton Sells GATT Treaty as a Home Run,'' Aug. 10, states that President Clinton plans to make free trade a major focus on his agenda this fall. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and its new enforcement arm, the World Trade Organization (WTO), will soon be coming to a vote in Congress. Despite the jargon of the debate, the issue is crucial to our future. But the issue is not ``free trade'' versus ``protectionism.'' It is fair trade. This treaty fails to meet that standard.

First, it threatrens the environment. Some defenders of the WTO say that even if it rules against the environmental standards of the US we can uphold them anyway.

Second, it is a threat to working Americans. No doubt export industries will create some jobs in the United States. But how many compared with the loss of low-wage labor in third-world countries in other fields? The dollar value of computers and pesticides may be high, but these sectors employ comparatively few people. Meanwhile we will lose more middle-class jobs in manufacturing of automobiles as multinational corporations take advantage of countries where workers get only a few dollars a day. An acceptable treaty must include clauses with labor and environmental standards.

Third, this treaty is bad foreign policy. In the long term, a small group of transnational elites will profit. The misery this causes poor people abroad will cause a backlash against the US. ``Fast tracks'' are of little value if they lead in the wrong direction. David Keppel Essex, Conn.

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