EAST PEORIA, United States - US President George W. Bush, launching a two-day
campaign to tout his economic priorities, defended growing US trade with China
while acknowledging it was "controversial."
In remarks at the US bulldozer-maker Caterpillar, Bush also urged the US
Congress, held by opposition Democrats for the first time in a dozen years, not
to raise taxes and to embrace his free-trade agenda.
US President George W. Bush speaks
about the economy at Caterpillar, Inc. in Peoria, Illinois. Bush,
launching a two-day campaign to tout his economic priorities, defended
growing US trade with China while acknowledging it was "controversial."
"We're going to continue negotiating free trade agreements," he said. "I'm
confident in our ability to sell American products and services overseas if the
playing field is level."
"The temptation is to say trade may not be worth it,
let's isolate ourselves, let's protect ourselves," Bush said in the speech. "I
know it would be a mistake for Caterpillar's workers to do that. I know it's a
bad mistake for the country to lose our confidence and not compete," he
"I understand trade with China is considered controversial, I know that,"
Bush told workers and managers. "But I want to tell you something, if you're a
Caterpillar worker, or a Caterpillar shareholder, what that has meant."
"Opening China's market" has sent the heavy-machinery manufacturer's sales
there up 40 percent, which helped create 5,000 new jobs in the United States,
said the president, who did not mention lingering Sino-US economic disputes.
The US president was to appeal in a more formal "state of the economy" speech
in New York's Wall Street financial district on Wednesday for lawmakers to renew
his sweeping trade negotiation powers, which lapse June 30.
Leading Democrats say they are open to renewing the former "fast-track,"
provided the legislation includes worker protections from dislocations fueled by
free trade, and stronger labor and environmental provisions.
Trade Promotion Authority binds the US Congress to yes-or-no votes on any
trade deals the president negotiates.
"It requires a great deal of trust, and Congress must have some key
assurances before it is willing to extend this leverage," said Democrat Charlie
Rangel, chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.