Perspectives

Statements by Members of Congress on the Jordan - US Free Trade Agreement

Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD), The Majority Leader, "I simply wanted to come to the floor before the end of the debate to express my strong support for the Jordan Free Trade Area Implementation Act. This is the first-ever U.S. free trade agreement with an Arab country. I think at these very tenuous and challenging times, there could be no stronger statement for us to make than to pass this legislation.

I appreciate very much the work by all of those involved to see that it is done.    I note this agreement was negotiated before the events of September 11. We are moving ahead today because forging this agreement is the right thing to do for the people of the United States. It is also the right thing to do for the people of Jordan. It serves as a statement that our enemy is terrorism, not the Muslim world.

 


Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman, Finance Committee, "This implementing bill sends an unmistakable signal of support for an important friend, an important ally in the Middle East. That signal was important when the agreement was signed last October. It is even more important now. Jordan has been a steadfast friend in its support for the United States' efforts to bring peace to the Middle East. We all remember the critical role played by King Hussein a few years ago. King Abdullah has maintained that support.

As we all know, Jordan has been steadfast in its support for America in the wake of the terrorist attacks against us. In a September 12 letter to President Bush, the King condemned the attacks and pledged Jordan's support in our fight against terrorism. As he put it, Jordan is committed to work with the United States, ``to ensure that the enemies of peace and freedom do not prevail.''    This is precisely the kind of commitment we now need from our friends and our allies. Accordingly, we should do whatever we can to reinforce Jordan's support. By implementing the free trade agreement, we will do just that".


Sen. George Allen, (R-VA), "I congratulate King Abdullah and his government for their efforts leading to Jordan's accession to the World Trade Organization. Acceptance by the World Trade Organization, combined with Jordan's economic reforms, are significant steps forward to making Jordan a world partner with the United States. This free trade agreement is another step toward solidifying our relationship and placing Virginia products on the same tariff footing as products from other countries.

I believe fair and free trade is the best way to increase trade, encourage economic development, and improve investment opportunities for all involved. It is important that the achievements made by King Abdullah and the signing of this free trade agreement be recognized and ratified by the Senate. For that reason, I urge my colleagues to support this measure".


Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), "The Kingdom of Jordan and King Abdullah are good friends of the United States. The agreement itself is a good agreement. It opens up new markets for U.S. exports to Jordan. And it enhances Jordan's access to our markets".


Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK), "the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement is an important acknowledgment of our long-standing friendship with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which has been a stalwart ally in pursuing peace and prosperity in the Middle East. Opening our markets to free trade with one another is appropriate, not simply in order to foster the opportunities free trade can bring between our two economies, but to draw our countries closer together in the struggle for peace".


Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), "strengthening our strategic relations with our friends in the Middle East has become an urgent priority of American policy. This free trade agreement marks an important benchmark in U.S. relations with Jordan, an island of moderation and stability in a volatile region. U.S.-Jordanian intelligence cooperation will be helpful to our efforts to crack down on terrorism at its source. That Congress has made ratification of this bilateral trade agreement a priority as we wind down the current session while sorting through the pressing obligations ahead reflects its meaning to our people, and our mutual intersets.


Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), "the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement is an important agreement and I am pleased the Senate has agreed to pass it by unanimous consent today. The agreement will provide a closer economic relationship with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which has proven itself to be an important strategic ally in the Middle East. Importantly, this agreement also represents the first free trade agreement to include in the core text, binding provisions recognizing the trade impacts of labor and environmental standards. The agreement sets a precedent that future trade agreements should follow.


Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), Ranking Member, Trade Subcommittee, " this agreement indeed is an important one. It is important in terms of national security. Jordan is important in the quest for peace and security in the Mideast.

This agreement is important economically. A healthy Jordanian economy is important in and of itself, and for Jordan to play a constructive role in the Middle East".


Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, "approval of this agreement will do a number of things. One, it will provide some degree of recognition, and, if you will, a small acknowledgment of the gratitude that the people of the United States have for the people of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Jordan has played a constructive role through 2 generations of leadership in the Middle East. Their steadfast advocacy for peace and cooperation in fighting terrorism not only needs to be recognized in symbolic ways, but I believe with this particular trade pact it will be recognized in a very realistic way as well."


Rep. Phil English (R-PA),  " our relationship with Jordan is a strategic one, and that alone is reason enough for this trade agreement to be desirable. This trade agreement with Jordan represents the first free trade agreement with an Arab Nation and will give us closer trade ties to the Arab world. Trading with Jordan will be mutually beneficial and strengthen them as our ally. Jordan also represents a country that plays a critical role in the Middle East peace process".


Rep. John Knollenberg(R-MI), "The U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement will provide economic benefits to both countries. That is what we are really here about. This agreement will eliminate tariffs on virtually all trade between the two countries within 10 years. Passage of this agreement offers the prospect of rapid growth in the U.S.-Jordan trade relationship.

In addition to economic benefits, this agreement will help to strengthen our association with a key ally in the Middle East. Jordan is a trusted friend and ally of the U.S. and is strongly committed to liberalizing its economy. The agreement provides important support to Jordan's commitment".


Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), Chairman of Foreign Operations Subcommittee, "Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement. Mr. Speaker, this agreement is critical to the foreign policy of the United States. It is of enormous political significance to us. Jordan is a vital ally of ours in the Middle East. It has been in the past; and it continues to be a leader in this peace process, this Middle East peace process.

Let there be no doubt, we have relied heavily on Jordan to play a constructive role in building peace in the region, and certainly the least we can do today is extend our hand in free trade.   

We must implement this free trade agreement, not because of the economic benefits the U.S. may receive, although there are some. We must implement this agreement because it will help Jordan develop economically and become more prosperous. With the prosperity and the prospect for economic stability, we can help it continue to lead by example in a region where greater, stronger leadership is so desperately needed".


Rep. David Bonior (D-MI), The Minority Whip "Mr. Speaker, the agreement we face today is a good agreement. It furthers our relationship with our friends and allies; and it increases the prospect, as we have heard, for economic and political stability in the Middle East. It contains modest yet meaningful standards for worker rights and the environment. For the first time, Mr. Speaker, these values are considered as terms of the agreement, just as tariffs, just as intellectual property traditionally have been".


Rep. James Moran (D-VA),  "More significant than this contribution to open trade is what the Jordan FTA should mean for our continuing pursuit of peace and stability in the Middle East. Since coming to power after the death of his legendary father, King Hussein, 2 years ago, King Abdullah has launched a series of progressive reforms intended to modernize Jordan's economy. The nation has joined the World Trade Organization, deregulated some of its service industries, and strengthened its intellectual property laws. It has also stood with the United States politically, helping to enforce our trade embargo against Iraq, and serving as a voice of moderation among the Arab states."


Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY), Chairman, Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee, "the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement with the United States is good for Jordan, good for the United States and good for peace in the Middle East. By eliminating trade barriers between both our countries, it will increase trade. In doing so, it will strengthen one of the most constructive regimes in the Middle East regarding the Peace Process.

Under King Abdullah's leadership, Jordan has already made significant strides in modernizing its economy and in opening its markets to the outside world. For example, Jordan has embarked on a major privatization program that includes its telecommunications sector, and has improved its record on intellectual property rights.


Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), "Under the agreement negotiated by the United States and Jordan, both nations have committed themselves to removing almost all duties on trade in ten years. The two countries have also committed themselves to safeguarding intellectual property and copyrights.

Most importantly the agreement includes provisions to protect worker rights and the environment.

The Middle East is an emerging region and the United States should do all it can to help the nations of the Middle East develop their economic potential. Jordan has played an integral role in leading the region to a freer and a more secure future.

King Abdullah has made important commitments to implement necessary economic and political reforms. Jordan has also been an important partner in the Middle East peace process, and a leading voice among moderate Arab nations for normalizing relations with the State of Israel.

By supporting free trade with Jordan the United States Congress will be recognizing Jordan's role as a peace partner in the Middle East".

Congressional Statements in support of increasing US assistance to Jordan in FY 2003

US Secretary of State Colin Powell at the Hearing of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing & Related Programs Subcommittee of the House of Appropriations Committee, "Jordan is a frontline state that plays a vital role in that part of the world, a close friend of the United States. It's been in the forefront of our efforts in the campaign against terrorism. It's dispatched a hospital unit to Mazar-e Sharif that is seeing thousands upon thousands of Afghans who otherwise would not have received any health care. And it is very appropriate to cement even closer that relationship with this kind of support and this kind of program."


Rep. Kolbe, Chairman of the Foreign Operations Subcommittee (R-AZ), "I'm especially pleased about the request for additional assistance to Jordan. I think it sends the right signal to a country that is extraordinarily supportive and I think is the kind of country we (hope?) develop the kind of democracy --- the road, at least, towards democracy and towards globalization and modernization that we'd like to see in the Middle East."


Rep. Ackerman, "On the Middle East, I want to put a pitch in for some additional money for Jordan, and for the current calendar year. And I know that we have some money in there for '03. The king has done, as you are aware, and with your encouragement, some spectacular work on the peace process, new that he is to his throne. They have elections for the first time in quite a number of years in Jordan, and there are some actors there that are vying in the political process. And it behooves us to make sure that the king can demonstrate that the conditions on the ground, because of his cooperation with us, are worthy of continuing the administration that they have in their parliament, not make it more difficult on the king. And the request that they have made, and I know the Israelis have echoed very strongly that the king is very deserving of this kind of money, and in the next fiscal year it is important. But this is the year that it really counts."