Oct. 23, 2003
Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions S.1782
By Mr. DASCHLE (for Mr. KERRY):
S. 1782. A bill to provide duty-free treatment for certain tuna; to the Committee on Finance.
(At the request of Mr. DASCHLE, the following statement was ordered to be printed in the RECORD.)
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I rise to introduce legislation that is designed to eliminate tariffs on certain tuna products imported into the United States from member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
ASEAN is a force for stability and development in Southeast Asia and pursuit of cooperative economic policies is critical to the relationship. The ASEAN nations include countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia that are valuable trading partners and important friends and allies in the ongoing fight against world terrorism.
Several of the ASEAN nations import processed tuna imported into the United States. This includes pouch tuna, which is a relatively new product that uses an innovative process to vacuum pack tuna into easy to use and environmentally friendly airtight pouches for commercial and retail sale. A few creative companies, including Jana Brands, Inc. of Natick,
Massachusetts, pioneered pouch tuna in the United States.
Tuna imported from the ASEAN nations is subject to higher tariffs upon entry into the United States. A provision was included in the Trade Act of 2002 that gives duty-free treatment to pouch but not canned tuna imported from the beneficiary countries of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act. I understand that the Andean Pact preferences are intended to increase production and trade with the United States in certain products and wean their economies away from any dependence on the production of crops used to make illegal drugs. I support the rationale behind the Andean Pact but it is also true that duty free treatment for pouch tuna imported from Andean countries puts pouch tuna imported from ASEAN member nations at a competitive disadvantage.
To restore fair trade and to benefit U.S. consumers and workers, I am introducing the "Fair Trade in Pouch Tuna Act of 2003". This bill provides limited duty free treatment for tuna packed in airtight pouches imported from ASEAN nations that meet internationally recognized labor standards and environmental protections. The legislation requires that these imports come only from ASEAN nations that provide and enforce recognized worker rights and environmental protections.
This legislation is just the first step. I look forward to working with the many parties that may be interested in this issue to craft a successful proposal.