–Urges Adoption of Provision as Part of Larger Trade Measure
WASHINGTON–DC–With the 108th session of Congress coming to an end–the Armenian National Committee of America is urging legislators to include a pro-Armenia trade measure–spearheaded by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY)–in the final version of a larger trade bill set to be approved before the end of this week.
The US House–last November–approved Permanent Normal Trade Relations Status (PNTR) for Armenia–opening the door to expanded US-Armenia commercial relations. The Senate version of this legislation–known as the Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act of 2004 (H.R.1047)–did not include the PNTR for Armenia provision. As a result–the Congressional leadership has assigned a "conference committee" to reconcile the two different versions of this legislation. The conferees include Ways and Means Committee Chairman–Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA); Trade Subcommittee Chairman–Rep. Phil Crane (R-IL); Rep. E. Clay Shaw (R-FL); Ways and Means Ranking Democrat–Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY); Trade Subcommittee Ranking Democrat–Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI); Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN); Finance Committee Chairman–Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA)–and; Finance Committee Ranking Democrat–Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT).
The ANCA has asked Armenian Americans to call on their Senators and Representative to urge the conferees to include PNTR for Armenia in the final version of the bill approved by Congress. The ANCA action alert can be found at: www.anca.org
The sample letter for activists includes several reasons to support this legislation–among them:
* Increased US-Armenia trade and investment advances US foreign policy by strengthening Armenia’s free market economic development and integration into the world economy.
* Expanded US-Armenia commercial relations will strengthen bilateral relations and reinforces the enduring friendship between the American and Armenian peoples.
* Adoption of PNTR for Armenia will help offset– no cost to US taxpayers–the devastating impact of the dual Turkish and Azeri blockades–estimated by the World Bank as costing Armenia up to a third of its entire GDP (as much as $720 million annually) and half of its exports.
The Trade Act of 1974 excluded all Soviet countries from having normal trade relations (NTR) status with the United States. One particular provision of the Act–known as the Jackson-Vanik amendment–required the President to deny NTR to those countries that restricted free emigration. The policy was adopted–in part–in response to Communist government restrictions on the emigration of Jews. According to the terms of the Jackson-Vanik amendment–when the President determines that freedom of emigration rights have been reinstated in a country–normal trade relations may be granted. To maintain NTR–the President must report to Congress twice a year that Jackson-Vanik requiremen’s have been met. While successive Presidents have waived the Jackson-Vanik Amendment restrictions on Armenia during the past decade–the passage of the Knollenberg bill would grant Armenia permanent normal trade relations status–without the need for semi-yearly Presidential determinations.