PALLONE OPPOSES POSSIBLE END OF TRADE BENEFITS TO INDIA
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), founder and former co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, made the following statement in opposition to H.R. 6406, the Trade/Vietnam Bill, which is being considered tonight in the House. The legislation includes a provision to give the President the authority to end India's competitive need limitations waivers after six months. A vote on the legislation is expected later this evening.
"Mr. Speaker, I rise to oppose the rule for consideration of H.R. 6406. Because of today's martial law and the closed rule before us, no amendments were made in order.
"I oppose this legislation and I want to particularly reference a provision which allows the Administration to revoke India's competitive need limitations (CNL) waivers on certain items after six months.
"Although India continues its economic development, the vast majority of Indians are still desperately poor. The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program has become very important to India's smaller businesses, such as the jewelry industry. Approximately 325,000 workers employed by the Indian jewelry industry, many of whom are from the countryside and are extremely poor, depend on GSP benefits.
"By providing alternate employment opportunities, the jewelry industry is helping to address the challenges India faces with increasing unemployment and desperation in rural areas, particularly for vulnerable populations such as women and low-skilled workers. It has afforded workers and their families' access to basic necessities, such as basic education and health care.
"From a development standpoint, restricting GSP benefits for India would have an adverse affect on this progress. These workers will likely lose their jobs, putting a tremendous burden on them and their families.
"In addition, India is an important source of diamond jewelry to American jewelers today. Revoking these benefits would significantly increase the cost of many jewelry products for jewelers and their customers, causing real harm to the industry.
"The contention for revoking these benefits is to allow smaller GSP beneficiary countries to develop this industry. However, it would not increase sourcing from these lesser-developed countries or from domestic sources in the United States. Instead, the US market would turn straight to China, which is extremely cost competitive and has a well established industry.
"I urge the Administration to not exercise the authority that is given under this bill to revoke India's competitive need limitations. I hope the President will recognize the important this program has had on India's poor.
"Vote no on the rule and the subsequent bill."