The Multinational Monitor



Buddy, Can You Spare $100,000?

WITH PRESIDENT CLINTON KICKING OFF the uphill fight to win "fast track" authority to negotiate new trade agreements, Big Business is gearing up a major operation to support the White House. Below is the text of a letter sent by the CEOs of Caterpillar, Boeing, Proctor & Gamble, TRW, Chrysler and GM to members of the Business Roundtable -- a corporate lobby group made up exclusively of the CEOs of the largest U.S. corporations -- in an effort to drum up support for the fast-track lobby campaign.

Dear [insert CEO name]

As you know, The Business Roundtable has led the business community for many years in promoting the growth of the U.S. economy through trade agreements. The Roundtable's leadership on NAFTA in 1993 was absolutely critical to passage of that landmark free trade agreement. Similarly, the Roundtable took the lead in organizing the Alliance for GATT NOW in 1994-1995 when Congress enacted the Uruguay Round implementing legislation.

Today, we are faced with a similar challenge. The president has announced his intention to send to Congress this autumn a proposal that reinstates his authority to negotiate new market-opening trade and investment agreements under "fast track authority." Without this congressionally-granted authority, there can be no expansion of NAFTA to include Chile or other Central and South American countries. There can be no Free Trade Agreement of the Americas. There can be no new sectoral trade agreements such as the recently concluded information technology and telecommunications agreements. There can be no multilateral agreements to cover, for example, agriculture, or to expand intellectual property protection under the auspices of the WTO. In short, without new fast track authority, America's global trade leadership will be irreparably harmed.

Perhaps more unsettling is the political backdrop we face on Capitol Hill. Despite current economic growth, historically low unemployment, growing exports and the increasing percentage of our nation's GDP that is attributable to international trade, the political climate for new trade agreements is not good. Organized labor, human-rights groups, protectionists, isolationists and some environmental organizations are questioning the benefits of trade and investment to the United States.

This is why the Roundtable has undertaken its trade communications initiative, seeking to inform our stockholders about the importance of trade and investment to the growth of our own companies and to our nation's future.

With the Congress scheduled to debate and vote on fast-track authority this fall, it is imperative that the Roundtable's member companies step forward to make our collective voices heard. Without our active participation, fast-track authority for the President will not be enacted.

We have pledged to work with the President and with the Congressional leadership to achieve passage. Our goal will be to help persuade undecided members of Congress [and] those new to this issue about the critical importance of fast-track to our nation's economic future.

With your participation and support, we will be fighting this campaign on 3 fronts: direct lobbying in Washington, a 50 state grassroots campaign, and a media program of advertising and public relations directed at key, targeted Congressional districts. All of these communications will be designed to demonstrate the importance of fast-track to our nation's economic future and to correct misleading and inaccurate objections raised by its opponents.

In order to conduct this critical campaign, we need your immediate financial assistance. Each of us has pledged $100,000 to this effort. We believe we need to raise a minimum of $3 million in order to insure that the voice of the business community is heard. Of course, each of us is called on frequently to make pledges of corporation resources for a variety of worthwhile causes. This cause, however, is tied directly to our business future, the economic growth of our country, the opportunities and job security of our employees, and a growing standard of living for the United States.

Maintaining U.S. global leadership on trade is at stake in this battle. If fast-track is not passed by Congress, U.S. global leadership on trade will surely be a thing of the past. While the United States remains on the sidelines, new trade agreements are already being forged by our trading partners with the economically growing countries of South America and Southeast Asia.

With or without U.S. participation, such agreements will continue to be forged. In possession of fast-track authority, U.S. negotiators have the power to lead negotiations and shape these agreements to better suit the trade and investment liberalization needs of U.S. firms and workers. Without fast-track, the U.S. merely watches from the sidelines while other nations craft rules to the detriment of U.S. interests. We simply must do our part to get fast-track approved.

As a member of the International Trade and Investment Task Force, we are asking you to make a special commitment. We hope that you will contribute at the $100,000 level. If you are unable to do so, we hope that you will contribute $50,000, $25,000 or some other appropriate sum. In any event, your participation is important. ... . Please respond as quickly as you can....

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