February 23,1999


WASHINGTON -- The Senate Finance Committeee today looked at how the U.S. can better enforce international trade agreements. The following is the opening statement of Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. :

"Two weeks ago, the Finance Committee began a series of hearings on American trade policy in a global economy. Today, we continue those hearings with an in-depth review of our tools, both international and domestic, for enforcing our trade agreement rights.

"As I indicated at our earlier hearings, our goal is to rebuild a bipartisan consensus on trade. Based on what we heard two weeks ago, I believe that strengthening our ability to enforce our international trade agreements is essential to that goal.

"The United States is among the most open, trade-friendly nations in the world. American consumers are reaping the benefits of a rise in their real incomes through lower prices, strong economic growth, low unemployment, and capital attractiveness.

"However, our ability to both maintain an open market and launch a new round of trade negotiations at November's WTO ministerial in Seattle depend on our capacity to convince the American people that they benefit from agreements already reached.

"Given that fact, we confront a number of troubling challenges. The European Union's institutional failure to comply with its WTO commitments or any decision of the WTO dispute settlement body, whether on bananas or beef hormones, deeply erodes the benefits America had reason to expect would flow from the Uruguay Round agreements. Canada's response to the WTO ruling on magazines has had the same effect. Indeed, rather than devoting their energies to complying with their own WTO commitments, the Europeans instead propose to challenge section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, by which American business and labor petition the U.S. government to investigate foreign unfair trade practices, in an effort to disarm the United States from enforcing its rights.

"We must, in light of those developments, examine how we can reinforce our ability to secure our trade agreement rights. I applaud the strong stance the Administration has taken in that regard, in the ongoing review of WTO dispute settlement rules. I also applaud the Administration's reinstatement of Super 301 and Title VII of the 1988 Act, which addresses the failure of our trading partners to fulfill their commitments with respect to U.S. access to their government procurement markets.

"Furthermore, I look forward to working closely with the Administration and this Committee in fostering improvements in both the WTO dispute settlement process and in our domestic enforcement tools."

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