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Commerce Secretary to

Lead U.S. Trade Mission
Bolstering the Federation's Economy Seen
As Move Toward Lasting Peace

Commerce Secretary Ron Brown(WASHINGTON, March 30—Reuters) U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown said Friday he will lead a trade mission to Bosnia and Croatia to underscore U.S. commitment to Balkan peace and to ensure that American firms play a role in the reconstruction. The delegation of a dozen corporate executives from large and medium size U.S. firms will go to Tuzla, Zagreb and Sarajevo to meet with officials to discuss what needs to be done to help rebuild the economy of the war-torn region.

"I hope that the mission demonstrates our commitment to long-term stability in Bosnia and Croatia is rock solid and that our military presence that is part of a multilateral force is just part of our strategy,'' Brown told a small group of reporters. "We are very impressed with the number of American companies that have shown an interest in the reconstruction and development," Brown said. Some $5 billion in donor aid has been earmarked for reconstruction of the region destroyed by more than four years of bloody ethnic fighting. Brown said about $2 billion of that will be spent quickly for essential power generation projects.

Brown, who served in the U.S. army and was stationed in Korea and Germany, takes pride in his non-military role in helping bring peace to some of the world's trouble spots. "This is a reconstruction and development mission that in some ways it is not unlike the strategy we have used in other trouble spots around the world that are attempting to move towards long term peace and stability," Brown said. He has led repeated missions to Northern Ireland, South Africa and Gaza and the West Bank in the Middle East.

May be Too Soon for Signing of Contracts
Next week's trip is the first of what the Commerce Department expects to be a number of commercial missions to Bosnia and Croatia. Brown said the trip may not include the usual contract signing that normally mark his foreign trade missions, but he did not rule out the possibility. He noted that senior officials from Boeing Co. are going with the mission. "Two weeks ago that was a done deal for Airbus," Brown said. The deal involves the sale of 18 planes to Croatia. "That is one area where just our presence, just the fact that we're going has at least had the impact of getting Boeing back at the table," he said. "We have every indication that the civil aviation authorities want Boeing but the Europeans are putting on a lot of political pressure."

Will Visit U.S. Troops at Tuzla
Brown will visit U.S. troops in Tuzla Wednesday and meet the mayors of the Bosnian cities of Tuzla and Zvornik. He goes on to Zagreb to participate in a business forum with the Bosnia Chamber of Economy. He spends the day in Sarajevo Thursday and return to Zagreb Friday. "There seems to be great enthusiasm there about our visit," he said. "They seem to be anxious to have the participation of American companies in the reconstruction process."

Brown will be the second U.S. cabinet official to visit the region in a week. Defense Secretary William Perry planned to stop in the region to press Bosnia and Croatia to strengthen their fragile federation at the start of a six-day trip to Europe and Egypt. Brown plans to depart Saturday and will stop off in France to participate in a Group of Seven jobs conference before moving on to the Balkans.

Additional resources
United States Department of Commerce

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