Quebec: Summit Session Opens With US Promise : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Sat Apr 21, 10:19 am

Summit session opens with U.S. promise

U.S. President George W. Bush began the first working session of the Summit of the Americas on Saturday with a promise that he will get trade promotion authority by the end of the year. Without it, the future of a hemispheric free trade zone is unclear.

"I'm committed to attaining trade promotion authority before the end of the year," said Bush. "I'm confident I'll get it."

Trade promotion authority used to be called fast track authority. Without it Bush's vision of North, Central and South America freely trading in goods and services would be blurred. If he gets the authority Bush will be able to negotiate sweeping free trade agreements and then put them to Congress for a vote.

Bush also made it clear that he sees a free trade of the Americas agreement as the cornerstone to what he called "the century of the Americas." Improved trade relations, he said would support democratic change and freedom. "Freedom is not only a right it is a weapon against tyranny and poverty." Bush said he is committed to working "hard to build an entire hemisphere that trades in freedom."

The U.S. president also announced a number of initiatives that he said will help to improve "the kinship, the culture and the commerce that unite us." A new programme will be started to bring civil servants together to build links. Bush also said he stands ready to help in the battle against HIV and Aids, to protect the environment and improve education. He also announced a new Latin American e-business fellowship, with the aim of further developing hemispheric economies.

Bush told the other 33 leaders at the conference that the North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, is a good example of what can be achieved. "From the Yukon to Yucatan," said Bush, "NAFTA has given consumers a better choice." It's time, he said, "to achieve a FTAA for the entire hemisphere."

"This is not the time to grow timid or weary," said Bush. "We will inspire the world by our example."

Earlier Prime Minister Jean Chrétien opened the day's session with a brief speech to delegates calling on them to use the opportunities presented to them to strengthen democracy, a theme that was echoed by Mexican President Vicente Fox and former UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar who is attending the summit as the representative for Peru.

-- Rachel Gibson (, April 21, 2001

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