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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 4340, United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act

Location: Washington, DC


* Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 4340, the United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act. Overall I believe the agreement contains numerous important benefits for the people of both the United States and Bahrain.

* The agreement would allow 100 percent of American-made industrial and consumer goods and virtually all agricultural products to enter Bahrain duty free. The agreement would also expand access for the United States to many of the financial and service sectors in Bahrain along with strengthening intellectual property protections. This improved commercial relationship between our countries will benefit many sectors of the American economy, including agriculture, banking and securities, and high technology.

* I have supported a number of trade agreements to expand access to foreign markets for exports as part of a long-term strategy to strengthen the American economy. While expanding markets for American businesses and farmers is critical, I believe it needs to be done responsibly, accounting for the treatment and protection of workers and the e nvironment. This agreement makes efforts to do so.

* Regarding the agreement's labor provisions, I am concerned that Bahrain is not in complete compliance with International Labor Organization, (ILO), core labor standards. But it is my understanding that Bahrain has committed in an exchange of letters--which will be included with the trade agreement--to modify domestic laws to comply with key labor standards. I commend the Kingdom of Bahrain for its commitment to modify its domestic laws, and I urge the Adm inistration and the United States Trade Representative, (USTR), to monitor progress in this regard.

* In the future, I think the administration and the USTR would be well served by including labor provisions, such as those included in the United States-Jordan Free Trade Agreement, in the body of future trade agreements and by making them subject to sanctions via dispute resolution procedures. The dispute resolution procedures fall short in the case of the Bahrain FTA. It is important that the United State s takes step to ensure our trading partners provide workers with basic labor rights. By including such requirements we dedicate ourselves to this goal.

* While this agreement is largely about the liberalized exchange of goods and services, it is also about building a stronger relationship with a strategic country in the Middle East.

* Opening up commerce between the U.S. and Bahrain can help us gain Bahrain's support for initiatives in other areas, such as resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and restori ng security to Iraq. In that connection, it is important to note that Bahrain is not observing the Arab League boycott of Israel. I welcome the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement and urge its support.

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