ANDEAN TRADE PREFERENCE ACT EXTENSION -- (House of Representatives - June 27, 2007)
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Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Michigan for yielding me this time.
I rise, as a member of the Ways and Means Committee, in strong support of this 8-month extension of the Andean Trade Preference Act. It is the right thing to do at the right time, Mr. Speaker.
There is no question, as my friend from New York just referenced previously, that our image has been tattered and beaten abroad. That is no less true here in the Western Hemisphere, especially with our neighbors to the south, through Central and South America. And I have always believed that our trade policies are more than just the exchange of products and goods between our Nation and others but also an important tool in our diplomatic arsenal. An arsenal that needs to be rebuilt now even in our own Western Hemisphere.
But I also want to remind my colleagues that this is not a free pass for these four Andean nations to get this trade preference. They have certain strict criteria that they have to meet first to gain eligibility for these preferences. Criteria such as respecting internationally recognized worker rights, treating the United States investors fairly, providing market access to U.S. goods, demonstrating a commitment to implement its WTO obligations, and, finally, to meet the U.S. counter-narcotics criteria.
And on that last point, it is not insignificant that there has been substantial progress, according to our own State Department and USTR office, of the drug eradication efforts and partnership that we have established with these four Andean nations. They have also met the criteria, again, through reference of our own State Department, but ATPA is perhaps the single most effective alternative development program we have going in the region. By providing these local citizens with long-term alternatives to narcotics trafficking and illegal immigration, ATPA has helped the governments, especially in Colombia and Peru, to isolate violent extremist groups; to revise their economies; and increase their investments in their education, health care, and infrastructure system.
And I submit that if we are not trying to actively engage these nations to help them build their economy and expand economic opportunities, they are going to come to the United States to realize those opportunities that they are not receiving in their own countries.
That is why I encourage my colleagues to support this extension.
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