SWEEPING political changes in the United States Congress could have a wide-ranging impact on its trade policies with the Asian region, say trade experts. However, the underlying support of the triumphant Republican Party - which now holds the majority in both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years - for the business community will ensure that the recent push towards trade liberalisation should continue. Denis Whitfield, managing director and partner of The Brock Group, a Washington-based trade consultancy, and Gerald Murdock, chairman of American Chamber of Commerce, were the speakers at a seminar organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council yesterday. Mr Whitfield said that nobody had predicted that the Republicans would win a majority in both houses of Congress in the US-mid term elections. He added that despite the transformation of US trade relations through the Uruguay negotiations, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Asian Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) pact, international trade had not been an issue in the elections. The expiry of President Clinton's fast-track negotiating authority on trade agreements would make him vulnerable to political manoeuvrings, he said. 'No company will be bothered about negotiations when the agreement will be subject to amendment, amendment and amendment,' he said. 'We believe the GATT vote will be the last easy vote for some time, as the political battles that will likely ensue in the coming months will make all other trade and economic policy votes more difficult.' Other trade topics for the new Congress include renewal of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) system, which has come under increasing attack from some policy makers. Mr Murdock said the recent nuclear agreement with the North Koreans and liberalisation of trade with Vietnam could be early targets of the transformed Congress.