Clinton urges Congress to put him on fast-track

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The Independent Online
President Bill Clinton yesterday inaugurated the new political term by making a formal request to Congress to enhance his power to negotiate international trade agreements.

Mr Clinton wants Congress to restore what is called his "fast-track authority": the president's right to reach trade agreements with foreign states without having every dot and comma subject to Congressional amendment. This "fast- track authority" lapsed when the Republicans, fresh from their victory in the 1994 congressional elections, declined to renew it.

Mr Clinton says that he needs the power to conclude new free trade agreements with a number of Asian and South American countries - chief among them Chile, but also Brazil, Argentina, which he will visit next month. He says it would demonstrate US commitment to free trade.