Members of President Clinton's Cabinet today are expected to debate the use of trade sanctions under a proposed environmental agreement with Mexico and Canada.
The meeting of Cabinet-level members of Mr. Clinton's National Economic Council comes as the United States prepares to negotiate many of the details of that agreement next week in Ottawa.The most controversial issue under consideration is whether a government will be allowed to use trade sanctions to punish the flouting of environmental laws in another country. The State and Justice departments are the strongest voices against such use of sanctions, the Environmental Protection Agency is strongly in favor, and the Treasury Department is sending mixed signals.
House majority leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., and other Democratic congressional leaders are pushing for trade sanctions as a vital condition for supporting the North American free-trade agreement.
Some Republicans have warned that they could oppose Nafta if trade sanctions are used as a new regulatory burden on U.S. businesses.