November 18,2005

Grassley Statement at the Markup of S. 2027, the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act

Opening Statement of Chairman Chuck Grassley
Senate Finance Committee Markup of S. 2027,
the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Friday, November 18, 2005

Today we are meeting in executive session to consider favorably reporting S. 2027, the U.S.-BahrainFree Trade Agreement Implementation Act. The U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement will provideeconomic benefits for both the United States and Bahrain. Under the U.S.-Bahrain Free TradeAgreement, 100 percent of trade in industrial and consumer products between the United States andBahrain will become duty-free immediately. With 98 percent of agricultural tariff lines going to zeroduties on day one, U.S. farmers and food producers will benefit from this Agreement.

In addition, the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement provides a high degree of access for U.S. serviceproviders. The U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement will benefit people throughout the United States,including Iowans. I’ve been informed by officials from the HNI Corporation, an office furnituremanufacturer; Lennox, a residential heating and cooling manufacturer; and the MidamarCorporation, a halal food and food service equipment supplier – all of which are based or havefacilities in Iowa – that their employees stand to gain from implementation of this agreement.

The impact of this trade agreement will be felt beyond the United States and Bahrain. The BushAdministration is advocating further trade liberalization in the Middle East, and the U.S.-BahrainFree Trade Agreement is a sound model for trade agreements with other countries in the region. Thisagreement will also even further strengthen our ties with a good friend of the United States. Bahrainhas long been an ally of our country, and the Fifth Fleet of the U.S. Navy is based there. The UnitedStates has close political and defense relationships with Bahrain, so it’s only fitting that we shoulddevelop closer economic relations with Bahrain as well.

I’ve worked hard over the past few weeks to ensure that Committee members and their staffs havehad adequate opportunity to become familiar with the bill and its accompanying statement ofadministrative action. After hearing of concerns about Bahrain’s efforts to dismantle its primaryboycott of Israel, I included language in the modified chairman’s mark of the then-proposedstatement of administrative action that addresses these concerns. This language provides that theAdministration intends to monitor and report on the efforts of Bahrain to dismantle this boycott aspart of the annual National Trade Estimates Report. S. 2027 and its accompanying statement ofadministrative action are identical to the modified chairman’s mark that the Committee unanimouslyrecommended to the Administration on November 9. I urge my colleagues to vote with me tofavorably report S. 2027.