Democrats' bill would restore U.S. trade hammer

Democrats' bill would restore U.S. trade hammer

Two Democratic senators unveiled legislation Thursday that would require the U.S. Trade Representative's office to take more aggressive action, including the possible use of sanctions, to force countries to drop their barriers to U.S. exports.

The move followed a call by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry earlier this week for Congress to restore the measure, known as Super 301, that many U.S. trading partners came to dread in the 1980s and 1990s.

The bill is co-authored by Democratic Senators Max Baucus of Montana and John Corzine of New Jersey.

The legislation would require the USTR to publish an annual list of the biggest foreign barriers to U.S. exports and seek consultations with each trading partner identified in the report within 21 days.

If those talks don't succeed in eliminating the barriers within 90 days, USTR would be required to begin steps that could lead to either a formal complaint at the World Trade Organization or U.S. sanctions.

Congress first passed Super 301 in 1988, but it expired after two years. In 1994, President Clinton e signed an executive order reinstating it.

The Bush administration let the program expire after taking office, despite calls by Democrats for another renewal.