Several U.S. corporations are doing an about-face: To get Democrats in Congress to stop holding up free-trade agreements, some representatives of Big Business are abandoning their long-held opposition to linking free trade with environmental and labor standards. For example, Caterpillar CEO Glen Barton said in a letter last month to the Clinton administration that the U.S. hadn’t done enough to encourage such linkages and that U.S. officials should consult more seriously with — gulp — opponents of the World Trade Organization. Boeing, the American International Group, and others are considering whether to join Caterpillar in endorsing a U.S.-Jordan trade agreement that includes environmental and labor clauses. Of course, there are still voices within the business community that come from the dark side and argue against tying trade to such conditions, but some progress is better than none. Right?

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