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“FAVORED NATION” CHANGED TO “NORMAL TRADE RELATIONS”

WASHINGTON-The House last week backed President Clinton’s renewal of normal trade relations with Communist China, a victory for wireless equipment manufacturers that do not want to lose the multibillion-dollar Asian market to global competitors.

The Telecommunications Industry Association, which represents U.S. wireless telecom suppliers, supports strong trade ties with China.

GOP lawmakers, who favor free trade but feel the term “most favored nation” made it appear the United States gives preferential treatment to China, changed the name to “normal trade relations” in a bill Clinton signed last week to reform the International Revenue Service. The United States extends NTR status to all but nine countries.

The Senate, which takes up the China trade issue next, is expected to approve NTR renewal.

Meanwhile, Republicans last week revived fast-track trade authority in an African trade bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee. Clinton earlier this year unsuccessfully pushed for fast-track authority, which forces Congress to vote a trade pact up or down without amendments.

Clinton hasn’t actively lobbied for fast-track legislation.

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