14 February 2004

Daschle opposes free trade plan

In the past, Daschle said, he's generally backed free-trade agreements and hoped potential problems could be worked around. But, he said, this one would be too damaging to rural America.

The deal is probably a way to repay Australia for its help in the war in Iraq, Daschle said. But he thinks the United States needs to take care of its cattle producers first. That means resolving mad cow concerns before opening the borders to Canadian cattle. Daschle said the U.S. Department of Agriculture has only found 28 of the 80 cattle from the herd in which the infected cow in Washington state was discovered. The livestock were born in Canada before being transported to America. The USDA has announced it's ending that investigation.

Australia is the United States' 13th largest trading partner. The trade agreement should lead to slightly higher beef exports for both countries. Tariffs on exports will be phased out over two decades.

Daschle said he will offer amendments that will eliminate cattle and beef from the agreement. He'd like them left or taken out of other trade pacts as well.

Congress is expected to vote on the Australia agreement next week.

I guess John Anderson will shortly indicate Australia's consent to the excision of beef by declaring it would be unAustralian to have an FTA without beef. The Man of Steel will then announce that it's both antiAmerican and unAustralian to even question whether the FTA, in its final form after passage through Congress, is not the best thing since sliced bread.

I understand the government would like all congaline volunteers to contact them as soon as possible.

More seriously, the vaunted Howard/Bush chemistry could not get sugar included in the current form of the agreement. By the time congress debates it the Howard chemistry will be totally ineffectual.

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