With a congressional vote on the landmark trade deal with China approaching later this month, Sen. Max Baucus warned that defeat of the measure ``not only won't achieve our goals, but will create more problems.''
Providing permanent normal trade relations with China was part of a U.S.-China deal to clear the way for Beijing's expected entry into the World Trade Organization this year. In return, Beijing has promised to open its markets to foreign competitors.
China's admission to the WTO was overwhelmingly in the United States' favor, Baucus told a gathering of the Council on Foreign Relations.
``This is a one way deal; We don't give up anything, China makes vast concessions,'' said the Montana Democrat, whose state would benefit from reduced tariffs on agricultural exports to China under the WTO.
Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji, who is struggling to reform China's economy, has committed himself to bring China into the WTO. Zhu has threatened to exclude U.S. companies if Congress doesn't give China permanent normal trade relations.
Baucus criticized arguments from labor and human rights groups that the annual review of China's trading privileges offered the U.S. leverage over China's human rights, environmental, religious and labor policies.
If China is a WTO member, it would be illegal for the United States to impose conditions on trade with China that it does not impose on other trading partners, Baucus said.
``We don't have leverage now,'' he said, noting that despite noisy debate, the China trade deal has gained approval from Congress every year without conditions.
Granting China permanent normal trade relations has support from roughly 80 percent of the Senate, Baucus said. But he cautioned the vote would be much closer in the House, despite lobbying by the Clinton administration.
``I think it is eventually going to pass,'' Baucus said.