|February 27, 2003
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—FALEOMAVAEGA SPEAKS OUT ABOUT AMERICAN SAMOA’S TUNA INDUSTRY DURING SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING ON WESTERN HEMISPHERE|
| Congressman Faleomavaega
announced today that the International Relations Subcommittee on the Western
Hemisphere held a hearing today on an overview of U.S. policy towards the
Western Hemisphere. As a member of the Subcommittee, Congressman
Faleomavaega entered a statement for the record and questioned several
witnesses from the President’s administration including the Honorable John
P. Walters, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, as
well as the Honorable Adolfo Franco, Assistant Administrator for Latin
America, and the Acting Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere,
Mr. J. Curtis Struble.
“The Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, which includes the Andean countries, has broad responsibility for foreign policy in Latin America, and I am pleased to represent the interests of American Samoa as a member of this Subcommittee on International Relations,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “The fact remains that when it comes to canned tuna, the Andean countries, including Ecuador and Colombia, continue to be serious competitors that may threaten American Samoa’s canned tuna industry.”
“The fact also remains that the U.S. continues to have serious concerns about drug production in Latin America. As we learned last year, drug production in Latin America affects U.S. trade relations and U.S. trade relations in this case directly affects American Samoa’s canned tuna industry,” the Congressman said.
“Let us not forget that during the Andean trade debate, Ecuador tried to convince Congress to grant the Andean countries preferential duty-free treatment for canned tuna. Ecuador said it needed this preferential treatment in order to curb its drug production. I pointed out that as a matter of foreign policy I do not believe Congress should mix drug policy and trade policy. In other words, I do not believe American Samoa’s cannery workers should lose their jobs just because Latin America is having a problem stopping people from growing drug crops.”
“As I have always said, I am supportive of Latin America’s efforts to curb production. But I take issue with any policy that places our cannery workers at a disadvantage simply because American Samoa has no past or present affiliation with drug production,” Faleomavaega said.
“At today’s hearing, I once again reminded my colleagues that American Samoa’s economy is more than 80% dependent on the U.S. tuna fishing and processing industries. Although we were successful last year in saving American Samoa’s canned tuna industry, I still have concerns about the ATPA. What bothered me most is that the Andean trade initiative did not directly confront the issue of drug production. Instead it used trade as an instrument of foreign policy and placed American workers at an unfair disadvantage by granting preferential trade status based on illegal trade rather than on the principles of fair trade. I continue to raise this as an issue because the United States does more than $200 billion in trade with Latin America,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“I won’t go into a country by country analysis but Ecuador, for example, exports nearly $6 billion to the United States, including duty-free textiles and now tuna packed in pouches. And yet if the U.S. wanted to export tuna and other products it would have to pay a duty, or tariff rate, of some 20% or more. In my book, this is not fair trade. This is not fair for workers in American Samoa or anywhere else in the U.S. Yet in the name of curbing drug production, Congress voted to support one-way preferential trade for the Andean countries. Again, fortunately we were able to exclude canned tuna—for now.”
“Will we be as fortunate next time?” Faleomavaega asked. “I am hopeful that by continually raising the issue and bringing attention to this matter that we will be successful in protecting our canned tuna industry for some time to come.”
“At this time, I am pleased that we were able to discuss this issue again today during our International Relations Subcommittee hearing. I am also grateful for the opportunity I had to once again state that I do not believe one-way preferential trade agreements can or should be used to counter drug production particularly when we already allocate billions of taxpayers’ dollars to sustain programs like the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.”
“On the other hand, I do commend the President for taking aggressive steps to directly address the issues of drug production and drug use by proposing $2.1 billion to disrupt the drug trade. I am also pleased that the President has specifically earmarked funding for the Andean Counter-drug Initiative,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“Finally, I am pleased that the President’s National Drug Director is aware of my concerns regarding American Samoa’s canned tuna industry. Like me, he is aware that trade agreements and specifically the Andean trade agreement may lead to real job loss for American workers. Given American Samoa’s dependency on the U.S. tuna industry, I am thankful to be in a position to represent American Samoa’s interests as a senior member of the House International Relations Committee. And, once again, I thank the people for their continued support and prayers,” the Congressman concluded.
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