U.S. Congress Could Get Chile Free-Trade Pact In April

By John S. McClenahen If the Bush Administration keeps to its announced schedule, the U.S. Congress could receive the pending U.S.-Chile Free-Trade Agreement as early as April 2003. The U.S. Trade Act of 2002 requires the White House to notify Congress at least 90 days before signing the agreement, and the administration expects to make the notification "early next year," says the office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick. The U.S. and Chile reached agreement on terms on Dec. 11. Under terms of the pending pact, more than 85% of bilateral trade in consumer and industrial goods would become tariff-free immediately upon approval by the U.S. and Chilean legislatures. Most remaining tariffs on products would be eliminated within four years. Total two-way trade in goods and services between the U.S. and Chile was $8.8 billion last year. The U.S. already has free-trade agreements with Israel, Jordan, Canada and Mexico, the last two as part of NAFTA. The Bush Administration considers the U.S.-Chile free-trade agreement to be an important step toward creating a Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005.

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