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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

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Date:
Location: Washington DC

March 30, 2004

STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS

By Mr. DEWINE (for himself, Mr. GRAHAM of Florida, Mr. LUGAR, Mr. BAUCUS, Mr. CHAFEE, Mr. DODD, Mr. NELSON of Florida, Mr. VOINOVICH, and Mr. SUNUNU):

S. 2261. A bill to expand certain preferential trade treatment for Haiti; to the Committee on Finance.

Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, today we have an opportunity to reach out to the least developed country in the Western Hemisphere-we have an opportunity to reach out to the island nation of Haiti.

I am pleased to join Senators GRAHAM of Florida, LUGAR, BAUCUS, CHAFEE, DODD, VOINOVICH, and NELSON of Florida in introducing the Haiti Economic Opportunity Act of 2004. I also would like to thank Representative Shaw, as well as our other House cosponsors, for their support of this bill.

Our bill would use trade incentives to encourage the post-Aristide government to make much needed reforms, while encouraging foreign direct investment-the most powerful, and yet underutilized, tool of development. The bill's provisions apply the least developed country provisions of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA, to Haiti-the least developed country in our Hemisphere.

Specifically, our bill would provide duty-free entry to apparel articles assembled in Haiti contingent upon Presidential certification that the new government is making significant political, economic, and social reforms. The bill also caps the amount of duty-free articles at 1.5 percent of the total amount of U.S. apparel imports, growing to 3.5 percent over 7 years. Currently, Haiti accounts for less than one-half of 1 percent of all U.S. apparel imports, and although these provisions seem modest by U.S. standards, in Haiti they are substantial.

The enactment of this legislation would promote employment in Haitian industry by allowing Haiti to become a garment production center again. Haiti has a labor advantage that makes it competitive compared to other countries in the region, and at one time several years ago over 100,000 people were employed in assembly jobs. Now, that number stands at just 30,000, and regional and global economic conditions are quickly converging to eliminate any chance of Haiti reestablishing a foothold in the garment production market.

Our window of opportunity to act expires at the end of the year, when quotas are phased out of the global market for textiles and apparel, and countries, such as China, are allowed to fully enter the market. In addition, Haiti has been largely left out of the Central American Free-Trade Agreement negotiations, gaining only small concessions for coproduction with the Dominican Republic. These concessions are necessary but far from sufficient for creating jobs.

I have traveled to Haiti 13 times, and there is no doubt that Haiti needs this opportunity. No other nation in our hemisphere is as impoverished. Today, at least 80 percent of all Haitians live in abject poverty, with at least 80 percent under- or unemployed. Per capita annual income is less than $400.

No other nation in our hemisphere has a higher rate of HIV/AIDS. Today, AIDS is the No. 1 cause of all adult deaths in Haiti, killing at least 30,000 Haitians annually and orphaning 200,000 children.

No other nation in our hemisphere has a higher infant mortality rate or a lower life expectancy rate.

And, no other nation in our hemisphere is as environmentally strapped. Haiti is an ecological disaster, with a 98-percent deforestation level and extreme topsoil erosion.

Despite this, U.S. assistance has reached its lowest level in over a decade. This needs to change. Haiti is in our backyard, inexorably linked to the United States by history, geography, humanitarian concerns, the illicit drug trade, and the ever-present possibility of waves of incoming refugees. Haiti's problems are our problems.

In an environment such as this, foreign assistance is not enough to create economic opportunities, promote development, and reverse these dire conditions. Economic development is the answer, bringing with it lower unemployment, increased infrastructure development, and spillover effects for the rest of Haiti's population.

This bill is not the "silver bullet" for Haiti, because there is no silver bullet. Rebuilding Haiti is going to require time, attention, and determination on the part of the people of Haiti, the countries in the region, and ultimately the entire international community. This bill would be a powerful indicator that Haiti has the support necessary to move forward. I encourage all of my colleagues to cosponsor this important piece of legislation.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.

There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

S. 2261
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the "Haiti Economic Recovery Opportunity Act of 2004".

SEC. 2. TRADE BENEFITS TO HAITI.
(a) IN GENERAL.-The Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (19 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 213 the following new section:

"SEC. 213A. SPECIAL RULE FOR HAITI.

"(a) IN GENERAL.-In addition to any other preferential treatment under this Act, beginning on October 1, 2003, and in each of the 7 succeeding 1-year periods, apparel articles described in subsection (b) that are imported directly into the customs territory of the United States from Haiti shall enter the United States free of duty, subject to the limitations described in subsections (b) and (c), if Haiti has satisfied the requirements set forth in subsection (d).

"(b) APPAREL ARTICLES DESCRIBED.-Apparel articles described in this subsection are apparel articles that are wholly assembled or knit-to-shape in Haiti from any combination of fabrics, fabric components, components knit-to-shape, and yarns without regard to the country of origin of the fabrics, components, or yarns.

"© PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT.-The preferential treatment described in subsection (a), shall be extended-
"(1) during the 12-month period beginning on October 1, 2003, to a quantity of apparel articles that is equal to 1.5 percent of the aggregate square meter equivalents of all apparel articles imported into the United States during the 12-month period beginning October 1, 2002; and

"(2) during the 12-month period beginning on October 1 of each succeeding year, to a quantity of apparel articles that is equal to the product of-

"(A) the percentage applicable during the previous 12-month period plus 0.5 percent (but not over 3.5 percent); and

"(B) the aggregate square meter equivalents of all apparel articles imported into the United States during the 12-month period that ends on September 30 of that year.

"(d) ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS.-Haiti shall be eligible for preferential treatment under this section if the President determines and certifies to Congress that Haiti-
"(1) has established, or is making continual progress toward establishing-

"(A) a market-based economy that protects private property rights, incorporates an open rules-based trading system, and minimizes government interference in the economy through measures such as price controls, subsidies, and government ownership of economic assets;

"(B) the rule of law, political pluralism, and the right to due process, a fair trial, and equal protection under the law;

"© the elimination of barriers to United States trade and investment, including by-

"(i) the provision of national treatment and measures to create an environment conducive to domestic and foreign investment;

"(ii) the protection of intellectual property; and

"(iii) the resolution of bilateral trade and investment disputes;

"(D) economic policies to reduce poverty, increase the availability of health care and educational opportunities, expand physical infrastructure, promote the development of private enterprise, and encourage the formation of capital markets through microcredit or other programs;

"(E) a system to combat corruption and bribery, such as signing and implementing the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions; and

"(F) protection of internationally recognized worker rights, including the right of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, a prohibition on the use of any form of forced or compulsory labor, a minimum age for the employment of children, and acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health;

"(2) does not engage in activities that undermine United States national security or foreign policy interests; and

"(3) does not engage in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights or provide support for acts of international terrorism and cooperates in international efforts to eliminate human rights violations and terrorist activities.".
(b) EFFECTIVE DATE.-
(1) IN GENERAL.-The amendment made by subsection (a) applies with respect to goods entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after October 1, 2003.

(2) RETROACTIVE APPLICATION TO CERTAIN ENTRIES.-Notwithstanding section 514 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1514) or any other provision of law, upon proper request filed with the Customs Service before the 90th day after the date of the enactment of this Act, any entry or withdrawal from warehouse for consumption, of any goods described in the amendment made by subsection (a)-

(A) that was made on or after October 1, 2003, and before the date of the enactment of this Act, and

(B) with respect to which there would have been no duty if the amendment made by subsection (a) applied to such entry or withdrawal,

shall be liquidated or reliquidated as though such amendment applied to such entry or withdrawal.

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