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|Posted October 23, 2002|
|Hon. Benjamin Gilman|
|INTRODUCTION OF THE HAITIAN|
|RECOVERY OPPORTUNITY ACT|
|Date: Wednesday, October 23, 2002|
HON. BENJAMIN A. GILMAN of New York in the House of Representatives Wednesday, October 16, 2002
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce the Haitian Economic Recovery Opportunity (HERO) Act H.R. 5650. This bill is intended to provide tangible economic benefits to Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation. If the people of Haiti are to be able to earn a living wage, provide for their children's welfare, and have hope for the future, then there needs to be real jobs in Haiti.
In my congressional district, there are many hundreds of Haitian-American families. They are hardworking citizens who have done well for themselves and added substantially to our local communities. These good Haitian-American citizens prove that what Haitians need most is opportunities. That is what this HERO Act does.
This bill would provide that apparel articles imported directly into the United States from Haiti would be free of duty. To be eligible, the apparel article must be assembled in Haiti from any combination of fabrics and yarns manufactured in the United States, members of Free Trade Agreements with the United States, future members of Free Trade Agreements with the United States, as well from eligible countries under the Africa Growth & Opportunity Act, the Andean Trade Preferences Act and the Caribbean Basin Initiative.
In past years, the apparel industry employed tens of thousands of people in Haiti. The earnings from these jobs supported many more tens of thousands of Haitians. This legislation will help bring that economic activity back to Haiti. It will also send a unequivocal message of support to those in Haiti's private sector who have joined in the long struggle for democracy in that island nation.
As is the case under the Africa Growth & Opportunity Act, in order for Haiti to be eligible for benefits, the President must first certify that Haiti has established, or is making continual progress to satisfy, a number of important conditions. The economic conditions spelled out in the HERO Act include establishing a market-based economy, eliminating barriers to United States trade and investment (including creation of an environment conducive to domestic and foreign investment), the protection of intellectual property, and the resolution of bilateral trade and investment disputes.
Furthermore, the government of Haiti must meet important political conditions including establishing democracy as evidenced by free and fair elections, the rule of law, political pluralism, freedom of the press, the right to due process, a fair trial, and equal protection under the law, economic policies to reduce poverty, a system that combats corruption and bribery and protections for internationally recognized worker and human rights. In addition, the President would have to certify that Haiti does not provide support for acts of international terrorism and cooperates in efforts to eliminate human rights violations and terrorist activities.
We must not forget Haiti. This bill sends a clear message to Haitians of good will that America cares what happens in Haiti. With this legislation, we can join together as Republicans and Democrats to do the right thing forHaiti by tangibly promoting prosperity and democracy in that nation.
Mr. Speaker, I request that a copy of the full text of H.R. 5650 be inserted at this point in the Record:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Haiti Economic Recovery, Opportunity Act of 2002''.
SEC. 2. TRADE BENEFITS TO HAITI.
(a) In General--The Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (19 U.S.C. 2701 et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 213 the following new section:
``SEC. 213A. SPECIAL RULE FOR HAITI.
``(a) In General--In addition to any other preferential treatment under this Act, in each 12-month period beginning on October 1, 2002, apparel articles described in subsections (b) that are imported directly into the customs territory of the United States from Haiti shall enter the United States free of duty, subject to the limitations described in subsections (b) and (c), if Haiti has satisfied the requirements set forth in subsection (d).
``(b) Apparel Articles Described.--Apparel articles described in this subsection are apparel articles that are wholly assembled or knit-to-shape in Haiti exclusively from any, combination of fabrics, fabric components, components knit-to-shape, and yarns formed in one or more of the following countries:
``(1) The United States.
``(2) Any, country, that is party to a, free trade agreement with the United States, on January 1, 2002.
``(3) Any country that enters into a free trade agreement with the United States subject to the provisions of title XXI of the Trade Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-210).
``(4) Any country designated as a beneficiary country under--
``(A) section 213(b)(5)(B) of this Act;
``(B) section 506A(a)(1) of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2466a(a)(1)); or
``(C) section 204(b)(6)(B) of the Andean Trade Preference Act (19 U.S.C. 3203(b)(6) (B)).
``(5) Any country, if the fabrics or yarns are designated as not being commercially available in the United States for the purposes of NAFTA (Annex 401), the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act, the African Opportunity and Growth Act, or the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act.
``(c) Preferential Treatment.--The preferential treatment described in subsection (a), shall be extended
``(1) during the 12-month period beginning on October 1, 2002, to a quantity of apparel articles that is equal to 1.5 percent of the aggregate square meter equivalents of all apparel articles imported into the United States during the 12-month period beginning October 1, 2001; and
``(2) during the 12-month period beginning on October 1 of each succeeding year, to a quantity of apparel articles that is equal to the product of--
``(A) the percentage applicable during the previous 12-month period plus 0.5 percent (but not over 3.5 percent); and
``(B) the aggregate square meter equivalents of all apparel articles imported into the United States during the 12-month period that ends on September 30 of that year.
``(d) Eligibility Requirements.--Haiti shall be eligible for preferential treatment under this section if the President determines and certifies to Congress that Haiti--
``(1) has established, or is making continual progress toward establishing--
``(A) a market-based economy, that protects private property rights, incorporates an open rules-based trading system, and minimizes government interference in the economy through measures such as price controls, subsidies, and government ownership of economic assets;
``(B) the rule of law, political pluralism, and the right to due process, a fair trial, and equal protection under the law;
``(C) the elimination of barriers to United States trade and investment, including by--
``(i) the provision of national treatment and measures to create an environment conducive to domestic and foreign investment;
``(ii) the protection of intellectual property; and
``(iii) the resolution of bilateral trade and investment disputes;
``(D) economic policies to reduce poverty, increase the availability of health care and educational opportunities, expand physical infrastructure, promote the development of private enterprise, and encourage the formation of capital markets through microcredit or other programs,
``(E) a system to combat corruption and bribery, such as signing and implementing the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions; and
``(F) protection of internationally recognized worker rights, including the right of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, a prohibition on the use of any form of forced or compulsory labor, a minimum age for the employment of children, and acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health;
``(2) does not engage in activities that undermine United States national security or foreign policy interests; and
``(3) does not engage in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights or provide support for acts of international terrorism and cooperates in international efforts to eliminate human rights violations and terrorist activities.
''. (b) Effective Date.--
(1) In general.--The amendment made by subsection (a) applies with respect to goods entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after October 1, 2002.
(2) Retroactive application to certain entries.-- Notwithstanding section 514 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1514) or any other provision of law, upon proper request filed with the Customs Service before the 90th day after the date of the enactment of this Act, any entry or withdrawal from warehouse for consumption, of any goods described in the amendment made by subsection (a)--
(A) that was made on or after October 1, 2002, and before the date of the enactment of this Act, and
(B) with respect to which there would have been no duty if the amendment made by subsection (a) applied to such entry or withdrawal, shall be liquidated or reliquidated as though such amendment applied to such entry or withdrawal. ____________________
By Mr. DeWINE: In the Senate
S. 3123. A bill to expand certain preferential trade treatment of Haiti; to the Committee on Finance.
Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, I have many long-standing concerns about the dire situation, political, economic, and humanitarian, in Haiti. As one who has witnessed the unbelievable poverty and despair in that tiny nation, I believe we must pay closer attention to what is happening there. We must be engaged.
That is why I am introducing the ``Haiti Economic Recovery Opportunity Act of 2002.'' This bill would help improve the economic and political situation in Haiti through an important tool of our foreign policy, and that is trade. I would like to thank Representatives Gilman and others for introducing a similar measure in the House.
The situation in Haiti is bleak. Haiti is the poorest country in our Hemisphere, with approximately 70 percent of its population out of work and 80 percent living in abject poverty. Less than one-half of Haiti's 8.2 million people can read or write. Haiti's infant mortality rate is the highest in our hemisphere. And, one in four children under the age of five are malnourished.
Roughly one in 12 Haitians has HIV/AIDS, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control projections, Haiti will experience up to 44,000 new HIV/AIDS cases this year, that's 4,000 more than the number expected here in the United States, where our population is 35 times that of Haiti's. AIDS already has orphaned over 163,000 children, and this number is expected to skyrocket to between 323,000 and 393,000 over the next ten years.
The violence, corruption, and instability caused by the flow of drugs through Haiti cannot be overstated. An estimated 15 percent of all cocaine entering the United States passes through Haiti, the Dominican Republic, or both.
Haiti still lacks democracy and political stability. The U.S. policy of not providing assistance directly to the Haitian Government is based on President Aristide's failure to enact necessary reforms to uphold democracy and help the people of his own country.
All of this creates an environment where the logical course of action for many Haitians is simply to flee. We have seen this in the past, and we may see it again. So far this fiscal year, the Coast Guard has interdicted and rescued over 1,485 Haitian migrants at sea, compared to 1,113 during the entire fiscal year 2000. And, according to the State Department, migrants recently interdicted and repatriated to Haiti have cited economic conditions as their reason for attempting to migrate by sea. I do not think that a mass exodus is imminent, but we cannot ignore any increase in migrant departures from Haiti. In addition to being an immigration issue for the United States, these migrant departures frequently result in the loss of life at sea.
The bill I am introducing today attempts to change this situation by granting limited duty-free treatment on certain Haitian apparel articles if, and only if, the President is able to certify that the Haitian government is making serious market, political, and social reforms. The bill would correct a glitch or oversight in U.S. trade law that recognized the special economic needs of least developed countries in Africa, but did not recognize those needs for the least developed country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti.
Specifically, the bill would allow duty-free entry of Haitian apparel articles assembled from fabrics from countries with which the U.S. has a free trade or a regional trade agreement. It also would grant duty- free status on articles, regardless of the origin of the fabrics and yarns, if the fabrics and yarns were not commercially available in the United States.
The bill would cap duty-free apparel imports made of fabrics and yarns from the designated countries at 1.5 percent of total U.S. apparel imports. This limit grows modestly over time to 3.5 percent.
The enactment of this legislation would promote employment in Haitian industry by allowing the country to become a garment production center. While the benefits of this bill would be modest by U.S. standards, in Haiti they are substantial. It is estimated that the bill could create thousands of jobs, thereby reducing the unemployment rate and breaking the shackles of poverty. Before the 1991 coup, Haiti was one of the largest apparel suppliers in the Caribbean. But today, Haitian apparel accounts for less than one percent of all apparel imports into the United States.
The type of assembly carried out in Haiti would have minimal impact on employment in the United States. In fact, it would encourage the emigration of jobs from the Far East back to our hemisphere, including the United States, because most Haitian foreign exchange earnings, unlike in the Far East, are utilized to purchase American products. And, the ``Trade and Development Act'' already includes strong safeguards against transshipment.
In order for Haiti to be eligible for the trade benefits under the bill, the President must certify that Haiti is making progress on matters like the rule of law. This will not be an easy task for the Haitian government. However, I believe that because of the incentives provided in the bill, it would be more and more apparent to them that it is in their interest to reform.
During my most recent trip to Haiti, I met with President Aristide and raised many concerns. I explained that it is essential that he call for peace and domestic order, and that he take the necessary measures to bring an end to the political impasse. I explained the need to cooperate with the opposition, and to work with the Organization of American States, OAS.
I also met with leaders of the opposition and told them that they, too, must be willing to compromise and cooperate. I am pleased to see that the OAS Special Mission in Haiti is up and running, but I remain cautious about the prospects for resolving the political crisis. In the meantime, the United States must take responsibility by continuing and increasing our humanitarian and trade efforts in Haiti. This is in our own best interest, and we have a moral obligation to remain committed to the people of Haiti.
Adopting the Haiti Economic Recovery Opportunity Act of 2002 would be a powerful demonstration of that commitment. I encourage my colleagues to join in support of this legislation. ______
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