July 27,2000

Senate Clears China Trade Hurdle; Roth Urges Support for Bill

WASHINGTON -- The Senate today cleared a procedural hurdle that will enable the body to take up legislation creating permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) for China upon return from the August recess in September. The Senate Finance Committee approved this legislation earlier this year. Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) delivered the following statement on the floor:

"Mr. President, I want to thank the Majority Leader for starting the process of consideration of this historic legislation and I look forward to the debate in September. At that point, I will intend to outline precisely how normalizing our trade relations with China is the single most significant step we can take in promoting the broad range of interests, from national security to human rights, that the United States has in its relationship with China and Asia as a whole.

"For today, however, I don't intend debate abstractions. Instead, I am going to start where I always do when I am considering legislation. And, that is the simple question of whether normalizing trade with China is good for my constituents back home in Delaware.

"Delaware's exports to China in many product categories nearly doubled between 1993 and 1998. Delaware's trade with China now exceeds $70 million. The agreement reached with China as part of its accession to the WTO would mean dramatically lower tariffs on products critical to Delaware's economy.

"The economy of southern Delaware, for example, depends on poultry. China is already the second leading market for American poultry products worldwide. Poultry producers in Delaware and elsewhere have built that market in the face of both quotas and high tariffs. Under the agreement with China, those quotas will now be eliminated and the tariffs will be cut in half, from 20 to 10 percent.

"In Delaware, chemicals and pharmaceuticals make up a significant share of my state's manufacturing base. In the chemical sector, China has agreed to eliminate quotas on chemical products by 2002 and will cut its tariffs on American chemical exports by more than one-half.

"Furthermore, there is not a day that I come to work that I don't remember that Delaware is also home to two automobile manufacturing plants, one Chrysler and one General Motors. In fact, I am told that Delaware has more auto workers per capita than any other state, including Michigan. As many of the auto workers in my state remember, I led the fight to ensure Chrysler's survival. And I remain one of the strongest supporters of the Chrystler and General Motors communities in Delaware.

"Under the agreement with China, China has agreed to cut tariffs on automobiles by up to 70 percent and on auto parts by more than one-half. The agreement also ensures the ability of our automobile companies to sell direct to consumers, rather than through some state-owned marketing office, and the ability to finance those sales directly as they do here in the United States.

"I want to give each of you a website address where you can see the powerful positive effect this agreement will have on your state and on your constituents as well. You can find it at www.chinapntr.gov.

"Beyond that, I want to empha two final points. The first thing I want every member of the Senate to understand is that China is going to become a member of the World Trade Organization whether we pass this bill or not. What this vote is about is whether American farmers, American businesses, and American workers -- real working men and women back home in each of our states -- will receive the benefits of an agreement that three Presidents from both parties have pursued with incredible dedication for 13 years. Or, will we reject this bill and see those benefits go instead to our European and Japanese competitors?

"Under the bilateral agreement reached this past November, China has agreed to open its markets farther than many of our other WTO trading partners even in the developed world. Indeed, to a remarkable extent, China seems willing to go farther faster on agricultural subsidies and services than even Japan and some of our European trading partners. And, the United States is likely to be the primary beneficiary of China's historic agreement to open its markets. Voting no on this motion means that American farmers, its manufacturers and its workers will suffer the consequences and face a dimmer economic future as a result.

"The second point I want to make in closing has to do with the bill that came to us from the House. We have reviewed the bill in the Finance Committee and I want to empha my unequivocal support for the House bill. It preserves precisely what the Finance Committee hoped to do - which is ensure that American farmers, manufacturers, and service providers would gain access to the Chinese market under the terms negotiated this past November. Beyond that, the House bill strikes a reasonable balance in terms of Congress' ongoing scrutiny of China's record on human rights and labor standards. Indeed, in my view, the commission created by the House bill for those purposes offers more to our advocacy of human rights in China than any vote under the Jackson-Vanik amendment ever did or ever would.

"What that means is that, because benefits of normalizing our trade relations with China, and because there is now so little time left before the 106th Congress adjourns, I will intend to oppose all amendments to the bill. Thirteen members of the Finance Committee have joined me in that pledge and I know many others that have expressed the same view to the Majority and Minority Leaders.

"With that, let me close by simply thanking my colleagues for supporting the motion to proceed, and urging them to vote for final passage when we return in September. Let's engage in the serious debate the bill deserves and let's take action as soon as possible to secure the benefits of the agreement for our farmers, manufacturers and workers. Thank you."