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This article by Melinda Sherwood was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper

on December 8, 1999. All rights reserved.

Free Trade

The outcome of the World Trade Organization discussions

could mean a lot to New Jersey’s businesses, which see roughly $22

billion a year in international sales. But the biggest barrier to

international trade in this state, says Congressman Rush Holt,

who represents residents in the 12th District, is not something that

the federal government can regulate at all.

"The biggest obstacle to even more trade is not tariff barriers

or even some of these things that we want to negotiate away —

it’s simply new ideas," he says. "The more we invest in

research

and development, the more New Jersey is seen as a center of this,

the more we will be seen in a position to export the results of our

good research ideas."

Congressman Holt is the guest speaker at the International Trade

Network

meeting on Thursday, December 9, at the Nassau Club. The International

Trade Network, formed in 1995, is an association of executive level

decision makers from leading regional manufacturing and service

companies

dedicated to furthering the globalization of central New Jersey

business.

Call 609-921-3322.

A freshman Congressman, Holt abandoned physics for politics. He is

a solar physicist who has taught at Swarthmore and Princeton, and

until last year was assistant director at the Plasma Physics

Laboratory.

Despite the violence and disruption in Seattle over the past week,

Holt still believes that it’s possible for labor and other protesters

of the WTO and corporations to find a middle ground in the free trade

issue. "I’m afraid that the bigger picture of international trade

will be overshadowed by the disruptions in Seattle," he says.

"Overall we want policies that are premised on opening markets

and making the most of existing markets — rules that insure

international

fair play, stability, and domestic policies that help U.S. businesses

succeed overseas."

Standardization of rules — regarding labor and environment, among

other things — will be key. "What we would like to have is

trade as free as we have among the states of the United States,"

he says. "And we can trade freely because there are standards

of environmental protection that vary only slightly, but there is

not blatant exploitation of the environment, and there are not blatant

variations in working conditions. We would like to have an

international

regime of accepted standards and I think they are possible."

Finally, says Holt, the success of free trade really hinges on the

ability of New Jersey businesses to stay on the cutting edge of

development.

"New Jersey has been able to come up with good ideas that the

rest of the world wants," he says. "If we have good ideas,

there are plenty of opportunities out there."


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