U.S. trade accord with Soviets expected

July 25, 1991|By Karen Hosler | Karen Hosler,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- President Bush is expected to announce the granting of most-favored-nation trade status to the Soviet Union at a summit in Moscow next week, where he is also scheduled to meet with Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin and the leaders of other Soviet republics as well as Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

A dispute over Soviet piracy of U.S. movie rights has delayed implementation of a trade pact between the two nations, but a senior administration official predicted yesterday that an agreement would be reached in time for the summit July 30-31.

"It's not quite ready, but we are so close I think we'll be all right," the official told reporters.

Working out the terms to protect U.S. intellectual property, including copyrights to movies made here but being shown for pay in the Soviet Union, has proved the final stumbling block before Mr. Bush can recommend to Congress that the special trading status with the Soviets be approved.

Congressional approval of most-favored-nation status would include the Soviets among U.S. trading partners who receive the most preferential treatment on tariffs as well as access to lucrative U.S. markets.

If Mr. Bush is able to announce his approval of the special trade status in Moscow, it would serve as a natural counterweight to the signing of an arms control treaty limiting strategic nuclear weapons that is to be the ceremonial high point of his three-day visit to the Soviet Union.

Particularly in the wake of the recently completed economic summit in London, at which Mr. Gorbachev appealed for financial assistance from Mr. Bush and six other leaders of major industrialized nations, the trade relationship between the two superpowers is becoming more important than their Cold War nuclear competition.

Mr. Bush is understood to be recognizing with this summit, however, that he can no longer deal only with the central Soviet government of Mr. Gorbachev but must build relationships with the leaders of the increasingly powerful republics as well.

Mr. Yeltsin, whom Mr. Bush received in Washington recently and whom he plans to see July 31, is by far the most influential of these local leaders because the Russian republic is so dominant in Soviet affairs.

But the president also plans to invite the leaders of other republics to a dinner in Moscow Wednesday night and will meet with Ukrainian officials and opposition leaders the next day when he stops for a visit to Kiev on his way home, officials said.

Also on the tentative agenda for the summit are a speech by Mr. Bush to the Soviet people Tuesday, a state dinner in his honor that night and a joint news conference with Mr. Gorbachev following the signing Wednesday of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

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