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New Trade Coalition Has Broad Reach

Washinigton Outlook

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

New Trade Coalition Has Broad ReachA group of manufacturing companies, farmers, agri-business and labor unions has formed a new coalition to inform the public and lawmakers about what they say is an economic disaster resulting from unfair international trade practices. The coalition representing some 3,000 corporations and 2 million employees is supported by the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), National Textile Association, American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, American Fiber Manufacturers Association, Textile Distributors Association, National Cotton Council and the textile and apparel union UNITE. It also includes metals, cattle, chemical, paper, sugar and honey interests and the United Steelworkers of America. Members of the coalition have major operations in 35 states.The coalition was formed by Wilbur L. Ross who, among other things, is seeking control of Burlington Industries and Cone Mills. At a news conference announcing formation of the Free Trade for America Coalition (FREETAC), Ross said, Americas standard of living is being systematically destroyed by our international trading partners and the people must be made aware of this economic disaster. He said the US governments failure to address the causes of the growing trade deficit is supporting transfer of Americas wealth to other nations. He pointed out that the US trade deficit is five times worse than 10 years ago and that the nation has permanently lost 3 million jobs.Ross said the coalition will conduct an education and lobbying effort to address the governments failure to address the causes of the trade deficit, including foreign government currency manipulations; evasion and circumvention of US laws; unfavorable trade agreements; and US laws that he said deny timely relief to many injured industries, their workers and communities. He said that both the Bush administration and Congress will be targeted by the campaign.Speaking at FREETACs news conference, Cass Johnson, ATMIs interim president, welcomed formation of the coalition, saying it could bring a new message and a new sensibility in the trade arena.By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent October 2003