Marylanders have a right to ask why their two U.S. senators signed onto a resolution that, if enacted, would effectively kill the most sweeping world trade agreement in history. Whether such an agreement can be hammered out in Brussels this week as the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade enters its final stage is increasingly doubtful. But one thing is not doubtful: Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes are doing nothing to help the process. They are hurting it.
In all of the 107 countries that belong to GATT there are politicians a-plenty opposed to more open commerce. Parochial attitudes die hard, especially when powerful interests collude to block progress. The unholy alliance between the textile lobby and sugar growers in this country is one example. Another is the opposition of the telecommunications industry to a services pact the United States has championed from the start. Still another is the transformation of organized labor from a force for internationalism into a protectionist bastion. And when the AFL-CIO says jump, Senators Mikulski and Sarbanes leap.
The two Marylanders were among 37 senators who co-sponsored a resolution that would derail the so-called "fast-track" arrangement for dealing with comprehensive trade pacts. Fast-track not only speeds congressional consideration of such agreements; it makes it realistically possible for them to be approved. The alternative is to have them picked apart, piece by piece.