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|June 12, 1998||
US wheat exports to Pak to be exempt from sanctions
The Clinton administration and the US Congress have agreed to exempt wheat sale from the economic sanctions imposed on Pakistan, the third biggest buyer of American wheat in the world, to protect the interest of US farmers. Last year, Pakistan's wheat purchases totalled 2.2 million tons.
The senate appropriations committee yesterday unanimously endorsed a legislation by a bipartisan group of senators seeking to ensure that food sales under the agriculture department's credit programme for overseas buyers -- known as GSM-102 -- are exempt from sanctions.
The house of representatives had taken an identical initiative on Wednesday with backing from the administration.
Pakistan is the leading foreign purchaser of a variety of soft white wheat grown mainly in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Michigan. It has $ 88 million left in its wheat credit line for this year and could be granted up to $ 350 million more in the next US fiscal year beginning October 1.
Law-makers from these states played a leading role in securing concessions for the wheat-growers who are suffering because the wheat prices touched a seven-year low this week.
Earlier, when asked whether President Clinton was doing anything to moderate the impact of the sanctions against Pakistan on north-west wheat farmers, White House spokesman Mike McCurry said the administration was looking into the issue and ''the justice department was, I think, coming to the conclusion that our law might be fairly inflexible with respect to the imposition of those types of sanctions.
' 'But I think we'll need to do more work and sort out where that issue is,'' he said adding, ''I imagine that they're seeing what kind of flexibility exists. But the answer may be not much.''
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