Clinton Sees Deal on U.S. Senate China Trade VoteU.S. President Bill Clinton said on Thursday he expected the Senate to vote on a landmark China trade bill soon after it gets back from the 4th of July recess on July 10.
Clinton spoke by telephone with Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott earlier this week about scheduling a final vote on the legislation, which would grant permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to China.
"I was very concerned when I heard that the delay might run into September," Clinton told reporters. "Now I believe we have agreement ... to bring up the China bill shortly after the 4th of July recess."
Asked about his talks with Clinton, Lott, a Mississippi Republican, said he would seek a final vote on the trade bill before the end of July but he stopped short of announcing a date.
"It is clearly my intent to call it up, and to call it up before the August recess," Lott told reporters. But he said, "It may not be as easy done as said."
PNTR has already won House of Representatives approval and Senate passage is virtually assured, ending the annual ritual of reviewing Beijing's trade status and guaranteeing Chinese goods the same low-tariff access to U.S. markets as products from nearly every other nation.
In exchange for the trade benefits, China would open a wide range of markets, from agriculture to telecommunications, to U.S. businesses under the terms of a landmark agreement signed in November 1999 ushering Beijing into the World Trade Organization.
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