Free trade pacts a test for US Congress - Bush

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WASHINGTON, Sep 20 (Reuters) President George W Bush urged Congress today not to give into protectionism and instead pass four pending free trade agreements with Peru, Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

''We'll work hard to get all four trade agreements,'' Bush told reporters at the White House. ''If they don't get through, it's a sign that the protectionists are beginning to be on the ascendancy here in Congress and that would be a mistake.'' The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to take the first step toward expected congressional approval of the Peru free trade agreement later today, followed by the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee next week.

But the trade pacts with Colombia and South Korea are much more controversial. In addition, the decision of Panama's National Assembly to elect as its leader a lawmaker wanted in the 1992 killing of a US soldier has added an element of uncertainty to approval of that pact.


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