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Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senators Craig Thomas, Mike Enzi, both R-Wyo., and about 60 other senators sent a bipartisan letter to the President expressing opposition to any international trade agreement that would weaken U.S. trade laws.

Some countries, including members of the European Union, Japan and South Korea favor a reexamination of U.S. trade laws as part of a new round of multilateral trade negotiations under the World Trade Organization. This is opposed by Thomas and Enzi.

A copy of the letter and key definitions are included below.

May 7, 2001

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to state our strong opposition to any international trade agreement that would weaken U.S. trade laws.

Key U.S. trade laws, including antidumping law, countervailing duty law, Section 201, and Section 301, are a critical element of U.S. trade policy. A wide range of agricultural and industrial sectors has successfully employed these statutes to address trade problems. Unfortunately, experience suggests that many other industries are likely to have occasion to rely upon them in future years.

Each of these laws is fully consistent with U.S. obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other trade agreements. Moreover, these laws actually promote free trade by countering practices that both distort trade and are condemned by international trading rules.

U.S. trade laws provide American workers and industries the guarantee that, if the United States pursues trade liberalization, it will also protect them against unfair foreign trade practices and allow time for them to address serious import surges. They are part of a political bargain struck with Congress and the American people under which the United States has pursued market opening trade agreements in the past.

Congress has made clear its position on this matter. In draft fast track legislation considered in 1997, both Houses of Congress have included strong provisions directing trade negotiators not to weaken U.S. trade laws. Congress has restated this position in resolutions, letters, and through other means.

Unfortunately, some of our trading partners, many of whom maintain serious unfair trade practices, continue to seek to weaken these laws. This may simply be posturing by those who oppose further market opening, but -- whatever the motive -- the United States should no longer use its trade laws as bargaining chips in trade negotiations nor agree to any provisions that weaken or undermine U.S. trade laws.

We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Craig Thomas (R-WY) Mike Enzi (R-WY) Max Baucus (D-MT)

Mike DeWine (R-OH) Trent Lott (R-MS) Tom Daschle (D-SD)

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Antidumping law prevents the sale of goods in a foreign country at less than fair value for the product, reducing the threat of material injury to industries in the foreign country.

Countervailing Duties (CVD) are duties assessed, in addition to regular duties, to offset the effects of foreign subsidies or bounties on the export of merchandise to the United States that would materially injure an American industry.

Sections 201-204 of the Trade Act of 1974 authorized the President to take action when a particular product is being imported into the country in such large quantities that it would cause injury or threaten serious injury to a domestic industry.

Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 is the primary statute that allows the United States to impose trade sanctions against foreign countries that restrict U.S. commerce through unreasonable or discriminatory actions.