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May 20, 1998
India friend Pallone opposes bid to end MFN status
Democratic congressman Frank Pallone has opposed an amendment which sought to withdraw the most-favoured-nation trade status for India's textiles and apparel in the United States and said it would punish the poor and working-class people in the country who had nothing to do with New Delhi's nuclear testing.
Speaking in the Rules Committee of the House of Representatives last night, he urged fellow-lawmakers ''not to find this amendment in order.''
The amendment moved in the house earlier by Democratic congressman from Massachusetts Edward Markey, represents the first congressional effort to punish India with import curbs, adding to the cut-off of United States exports, aid, and credit ordered by president Bill Clinton on May 13.
The provision, which could come to a house vote within days as an amendment to a defence authorisation bill, would place prohibitive tariffs on one of India's most important products, accounting for more than $1.8 billion in sales to the United States last year.
The legislation would apply to any non-nuclear weapon state that conducts a test after January 1, 1998. The wording is also meant to discourage Pakistan from testing.
"I believe this amendment takes an entirely inappropriate and counterproductive approach, with the intended consequences of punishing the poor people and doing nothing to enhance the United States' national security," Pallone added.
The Markey amendment seeks to revoke India's MFN (non-discriminatory) trading status. But, it has been introduced during the discussion on the defence authorisation bill. It was hard to see the connection between the two. He said the amendment was not germane to the bill. Therefore, it should be ruled out or order, he added.
Pallone, who is a co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans said the nuclear tests had triggered automatic and very severe sanctions pursuant to the Glenn-Symington amendment. President Clinton had no choice but to impose curbs and the only way to reverse these sanctions is through a legislation in the house and the Senate, he added.
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