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Utah's exports jump 19.7%

Utah's exports to the world skyrocketed by 19.7 percent last year - the fourth fastest rate among the states. In the past decade, foreign exports from Utah have tripled.

Commerce Secretary William Daley released that data this week - and data on every U.S. metropolitan area and state - to drum up support for "fast-track" trade negotiation authority for President Clinton by showing how important exports are to hometowns.Among other Utah data Daley released was:

- Exports from the Provo-Orem area grew 49.7 percent last year.

That was the 11th biggest jump among the nation's 253 largest metropolitan areas. Provo-Orem exported goods worth $301.9 million (the 149th most among metro areas).

- Exports from the Salt Lake City-Ogden area grew 14.9 percent last year - the 36th biggest jump among large metro areas. It exported goods worth $2.11 billion (the 53rd most among the big cities).

- Those two metro areas accounted for 87 percent of Utah's exports.

Total state exports amounted to $2.77 billion last year, which happens to be three times more than the $667.4 million in exports it had about a decade ago.

"If we want to continue to grow our economy and continue to see this kind of boom in our cities' export growth, President Clinton must have fast-track authority as he engages our global trading partners," Daley told regional reporters on Tuesday.

"Fast-track authority" allows a president to negotiate trade deals with other countries, which Congress can then accept or reject but that it can't amend, which allows a quicker, streamlined process. Presidents had that authority since the early 1970s, but it expired last year. Clinton wants it renewed.

All of Utah's members of Congress say they like the idea of fast-track and free trade, but they dislike Clinton's proposed package.

They say it proposes that environmental and labor standards favored by Democrats be included in any trade pact, and Republicans want that removed to allow flexibility.

Paul Smith, press secretary to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Hatch also feels it doesn't ensure compliance with laws to prevent dumping of below-cost goods in America (which hurts U.S. businesses) and laws against unfair international trade practices.

Rep. Merrill Cook, R-Utah, has broader worries. "I'm concerned that Congress would be giving up its right to make critical amendments to any deal the White House negotiates, particularly amendments dealing with the environment and the rights of working men and women."

Mary Jane Collipriest, press secretary to Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, says he feels some sort of fast-track authority is needed to help America quickly make agreements to compete abroad but won't support a package that gives too much weight to Democratic Party initiatives on environment and labor.

Aides to Reps. Jim Hansen and Chris Cannon, both R-Utah, said their bosses agree - and also seek compromises on environmental and labor standards.

Meanwhile, Daley stressed that because of the importance of exports to most hometowns, the debate on fast-track authority "is a pocketbook issue for every American."

He added, "With 96 percent of the world's consumers living outside of the United States, one cannot overstate the importance of exports to our economy and job growth in our nation's cities."

The data he released showed the United States exported $622.8 billion worth of goods last year. He said that sustains about 12 million U.S. jobs.