Senate committee approves legislation to normalize trade relations, implement trade agreement
Washington, DC â?? Idaho Senator Mike Crapo voted to expand foreign market opportunities for Idahoans by supporting legislation to grant Vietnam Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) and implementing legislation for the Peru Trade Promotion Agreement. Crapo co-sponsored and voted to pass Vietnam PNTR legislation, S. 3495, out of the Senate Finance Committee, on which he serves. â??With a population of more than 80 million people, Vietnam is an emerging market for U.S. products,â?? said Crapo, who visited Vietnam in 2005 as part of a congressional delegation trip to China and the Far East. â??Many trade barriers faced by producers are related to sanitary and phytosanitary issues, and this will be a promising step in expanding market opportunities for U.S. producers.â?? The market access provided through Vietnamâ??s World Trade Organization (WTO) accession agreement will expand opportunities for U.S. producers. WTO accession for Vietnam also means tariffs on more than three-fourths of U.S. agricultural exports to Vietnam will be bound at a rate of 15 percent or less. Additionally, accession would obligate Vietnam to apply science-based sanitary and phytosanitary standards to all agricultural goods. Extending PNTR to Vietnam would also be one of many important steps to normalize relations and expand understanding with Vietnam. During consideration of the measure, the members of the committee agreed that continuous improvements should be made by Vietnam to guarantee basic human rights and protect religious minorities. The Committee passed S. 3495 by a vote of 18 to 0 and also favorably considered implementing legislation for the Peru Trade Promotion Agreement by a vote of 12 to 7. The Peru trade agreement would provide immediate duty-free access for 80 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Peru. Remaining tariffs would be eliminated within ten years. Crapo said, â??I was pleased to spend some time with the Peruvian ambassador earlier this month discussing trade opportunities and pressing the Ambassador to honor the commitments regarding market access for U.S. beef.â?? While Peru has made progress in opening its market to U.S. beef, it has not yet met the commitments made in earlier this year. That is why the Senate Finance Committee passed an amendment to the Peru agreement that would require determination of Peruâ??s compliance with beef access commitments prior to the treaty going into force. The U.S. currently exports more than $2 billion per year in goods to Peru. The agreement would provide duty-free access to Peruâ??s market for more than two-thirds of current U.S. farm exports to Peru. Idaho may see some immediate duty-free access for certain products to Peru, including high-quality beef, wheat, some fruits and vegetables, and frozen french fries. The next step for the legislation to extend PNTR to Vietnam is passage by the full U.S. Senate. The Peru Trade Promotion Agreement is subject to further consideration by the Senate Finance Committee prior to adoption by the full U.S. Senate.