UNITED STATES-BAHRAIN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - December 07, 2005)
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Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act. Passage of this FTA will help strengthen our relationship with Bahrain, building a more secure and productive future for our countries and citizens.
As a cochair of the New Democrat Coalition, I have long believed that when instituted correctly and fairly, trade agreements open up foreign markets to U.S. goods, create new opportunities for companies and their employees, and lift the standard of living for people in the country with whom we are trading. As our nation leads the world into the 21st century, we should not shy away from opportunities to guide and expand global trade.
U.S. goods exported to Bahrain totaled $302 million in 2004, constituting .03 percent of total U.S. merchandise trade in 2004. Of that total, Wisconsin exported over $4 million in goods last year to Bahrain, with the majority of the exports in machinery and manufacturing. I am pleased that The U.S.-Bahrain FTA will provide substantial market access for U.S. services providers, including financial services. One hundred percent of bilateral trade in consumer and industrial products will become duty-free immediately, and 98 percent of U.S. agricultural product exports to Bahrain would be immediately duty free, with 10-year phaseouts for the remaining items such as alcohol and tobacco.
Moreover, securing a FTA with Bahrain is a positive foreign policy and national security step for the United States. Bahrain has been a strong and stable state in the Persian Gulf region and a friend to the United States. The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain, and the United States has recognized the importance of our relationship with this country by establishing a joint U.S.-Bahrain Defense Cooperation Agreement and designing Bahrain as a ``Major Non-NATO ally.'' This FTA strengthens relations with one of our proven strategic allies in an unstable region.
Further, it is critically important that trade agreements are balanced and fair for workers and companies. I am pleased, therefore, that Bahrain has agreed to take the additional steps necessary to comply with basic international labor standards that are integral to ensuring that the benefits of globalization are broadly shared among the people. Bahrain has committed in writing and with a clear and immediate timetable to amend all provisions of its labor laws that are not consistent with basic International Labor Organization (ILO) standards. In addition, the United States Trade Representative has committed to report periodically to Congress on Bahrain's fulfillment of its agreement and is prepared to invoke Article 15.6 procedures if Bahrain fails to carry out these commitments.
Again, Mr. Speaker, I am happy to support this FTA with Bahrain today. It is in our best interest to engage Bahrain and complete this bilateral free trade agreement. I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 4340.
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