Congressmen Knollenberg and Pallone Generating Bipartisan Backing for H.R.528

March 3, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC – Pro-U.S./Armenia trade legislation introduced earlier this month in the U.S. House by Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairmen Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) is already attracting strong bipartisan support, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA)

The legislation, H.R.528, would provide permanent normal trade relations status to the Republic of Armenia. This would ensure lower tariffs on Armenian imports to the U.S. and give greater Armenian access to U.S. government credit facilities on a permanent basis. The move comes less than two months after Armenia was formally approved for entry into the World Trade Organization.

“We very much appreciate the efforts of Congressmen Knollenberg and Pallone in generating bipartisan support for this important building block in the U.S.-Armenia economic partnership,” said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “We look forward to supporting their efforts as this resolution moves through the legislative process, and will continue to press for its adoption by Congress at the earliest opportunity.”

Joining Reps. Knollenberg and Pallone as sponsors of H.R.528 are the following Representatives: Robert Andrews (D-NJ), Shelley Berkley (D-NV, Howard Berman (D-CA), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Jerry Costello (D-IL), Cal Dooley (D-CA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), William Lipinski (D-IL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), James McGovern (D-MA), Michael McNulty (D-NY), John Olver (D-MA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Ron Paul (R-TX), George Radanovich (R-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Mark Souder (R-IN), John Sweeney (R-NY), John Tierney (D-MA), Fred Upton (r-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Peter Visclosky (D-IN), and Diane Watson (D-CA).

The legislation is currently under consideration by the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, which will soon invite the public to comment on the measure. During this public comment period, which is expected to last thirty to forty-five days, the ANCA and other interested parties will submit their views on the impact and benefits of granting PNTR status to Armenia.

The Trade Act of 1974 excluded all Soviet countries from having normal trade relations (NTR) status with the United States. One provision of the Act, known as the Jackson-Vanick 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 repatriation of Jews. According to the terms of the Jackson-Vanick 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-Vanick requirements have been met. While successive Presidents have waived the Jackson-Vanick Amendment restrictions on Armenia during the past decade, the passage of the Knollenberg bill, would grant Armenia permanent NTR (PNTR) status, without the need for bi-yearly Presidential determinations.

Permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status ensures lower duties on Armenian imports to the U.S., creating incentives for increased trade and investment opportunities between the two countries. As such, the measure strengthens bilateral relations between the two countries and helps reinforce the enduring friendship between the American and Armenian peoples. Increased U.S.-Armenia trade and investment also helps to offset the impact of the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades, estimated by the World Bank at up to $720 million a year.


For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Elizabeth S. Chouldjian
Email / Tel: (202) 775-1918
Armenian National Committee of America
888 17th Street, NW, Suite 904, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. (202) 775-1918 * Fax. (202) 775-5648 *
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