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US Democrats Seek Extension Of Andean Trade Preference Act

by Leroy Baker,, New York

06 April 2007

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Sander Levin (D-MI), have introduced legislation to provide a two-year extension of trade preferences for the Andean nations of Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and Bolivia.

The bill would extend the preferences given under the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) and the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA). According to the lawmakers, the ATPDEA provides critical trade benefits to these developing nations, which have resulted in job creation and economic development.

ATPA and ATPDEA preferences will expire on July 1, 2007, unless Congress acts to extend the program.

"Unless Congress extends these benefits, we risk losing some of the economic progress we’ve achieved with the Andean nations over the fifteen-year life of the program,” said Rangel. “I hope we can count on strong bipartisan support to get this legislation passed quickly. The extension of the preferences is an extension of our diplomacy and an investment in the people of the Andean region.

Levin added: "As we consider more comprehensive trade relationships that will promote mutual economic growth and broaden its benefits more widely, it is important that there not be an abrupt interruption of a program that has been an integral part of US trade policy for over 15 years."

“The program - while not perfect - has stimulated economic growth and created some legal, viable alternatives to the illicit narcotics trade and we must build on this growth to foster development and stability in the region.”

Chairmen Rangel and Levin were joined by Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Dan Burton (R-IN) as original cosponsors. Reps. Engel and Burton are Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere respectively.

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