Australia Trade Pact Could Get 2004 Approval

By John S. McClenahen Even in this contentious election year, Congress could give its approval to the pending free-trade agreement between the U.S. and Australia, suggests Michael Baroody, executive vice president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Manufacturers. Under terms of the agreement, which was reached on Feb. 8, more than 99% of U.S. manufactured exports to Australia would become duty free once the pact took effect, says U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick's office. Manufactured goods account for 93% of all U.S. exports to the land down under. Baroody also believes the pending Central American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S. and Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua could gain approval this year -- although he seems less certain of that than about prospects for the U.S.-Australia pact.

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