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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said the U.S. should be cautious about granting trade concessions for sensitive agricultural products to its trade partners.

Enzi participated in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing entitled, "The Future of U.S. Economic Relations in the Western Hemisphere." Committee members heard testimony from commodity and livestock organizations and the administration. Representatives from the sugar and wheat industries as well as the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) were present.

"The relationships that exist between countries in the Western Hemisphere is key to the future of all our region," said Enzi. "In Wyoming, agriculture is an integral part of our state's identity. Because we are known as the Cowboy State, many associate us with cattle and ranches, but we are also a sugar state and a wheat state. Agricultural trade within the Western Hemisphere directly effects the people of Wyoming and the ability of our neighbors and friends to stay in business."

Enzi questioned the Administration on concessions for sensitive agricultural products such as sugar and beef, how the Administration plans to deal with agricultural imports that undermine a U.S. program adopted by Congress, and what the next step of the process will be regarding an investigation of wheat dumping from Canada.

The United States Trade Representative, Robert Zoellick, has proposed to eventually eliminate all tariffs within the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), including those on sugar. Enzi said, however, additional access to the U.S. sugar market would overwhelm the domestic sugar program without accompanying global reform of world sugar trade.

Discussions on beef trade took an unexpected turn with the USDA announcement of a case of bovine spongiform encephalophathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, discovered in Canada.

"The discovery of BSE in Canada today could have serious trade implications for the United States," said Enzi. "It is very early in this investigation and I hope this is an isolated case. I will closely monitor this situation and work with the appropriate federal agencies seeking to prevent the spread of the disease to the U.S. It's important not only for public health officials and members of Congress to have access to the right information, but also for consumers. This case of BSE in Canada puts a new focus on country of origin labeling for meat. Labeling would provide consumers with more information and could help maintain consumer confidence in U.S. food safety and security.

Enzi's statement follows.

Foreign Relations Committee Hearing
"The Future of U.S. Economic Relations
in the Western Hemisphere"
Statement by Senator Enzi
May 20, 2003



I think it is clear that the economies of the region have an impact on our economy, our confidence in international trade, and even our security. When an economic crisis occurs, our immediate thought is how that will impact our communities. Considering the increased globalization of the world, it is no wonder that an oil crisis, political upheaval, humanitarian emergency, or natural disaster in the Western Hemisphere causes a reaction in the United States.

Today we are hearing from a number of witnesses who represent different sectors of our agriculture community. In Wyoming, agriculture is an integral part of our state's identity. We are known as the Cowboy State, so many associate us with cattle and ranches. Some of you even know we are also a sugar state and a wheat state.

Agriculture trade within the Western Hemisphere directly effects the people of Wyoming - it effects the ability of our neighbors and friends to stay in business.

I believe the relationships that exist between the countries in the Western Hemisphere is the key to the future of all our region. Last January, I had the opportunity to travel to Brazil for the inauguration of Brazil's new President, "Lula" de Silva. It was a truly international gathering with representatives from nations throughout the hemisphere. I traveled with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, Ambassador John Maisto, and our Ambassador to Brazil, Donna Hrinak. So many heads of governments attended that Lula's inauguration became a conference of sorts, with many opportunities to talk about the challenges facing the region.

We met with government officials from Guatemala, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Colombia and El Salvador and we talked about many of the trade and economic issues that I am sure we will hear about today. Each nation had its own worries and concerns, but many of their issues overlapped and involved each other.

Those overlapping issues of trade and security are the reasons this hearing is so important. Thank you again for holding the hearing, I look forward to hearing from the witnesses.