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Clinton names lobbying team on China WTO membership, urges Congress to vote

By Timothy McCaughan/CNN

January 10, 2000
Web posted at: 4:09 p.m. EST (2109 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- China should be allowed to join the World Trade Organization because "this agreement is a good deal for America," President Bill Clinton said in a statement Monday.

Naming a White House lobbying team to spearhead the effort, the president also called on Congress to schedule a vote on China's entry to the world trade body at "the earliest possible time." The United States and China reached agreement last November on terms for China to enter the WTO.

Clinton assigned Secretary of Commerce William Daley and Stephen Ricchetti, the White House deputy chief of staff, to "ensure that we have as strong and responsive an effort as possible in both parties in Congress."

The president said the United States will continue to press the Chinese on issues of serious disagreement between the two countries, including human rights and weapons proliferation. He said that if implemented, the agreement would not "change China or our relationship with China overnight."

The agreement would provide the United States with better access to China's market while China would gain no new access to U.S. markets, and add new, stronger rules against Chinese practices that hurt American businesses, he said.

Although the GOP leadership on Capitol Hill favors the idea of free trade, the possibility of passage remains unclear. Opposition to Chinese participation in the WTO persists because of continued human rights violations, the campaign finance scandal and espionage -- among other issues -- makes the possibility of passage unclear.

China's entry has been favored by many U.S. business leaders -- particularly in high technology and agriculture -- eager to obtain access to China's markets.

But U.S. labor groups traditionally allied with the Democratic Party oppose the deal, concerned that China's entry could lead to a loss of jobs for U.S. workers.

An unnamed White House official said he expected votes in the Republican-led Congress in the "late spring."


The China Challenge: What the WTO entry means for Southeast Asia (12-24-99)


World Trade Organization

U.S. Department of Commerce


Monday, January 10, 2000

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