|HOME | NEWS | REPORT|
|July 15, 1998||
US senate exempts agriculture credits from sanctions
The US senate last night promptly accepted the legislation passed by the House of Representatives, exempting agriculture credits from the nuclear-related economic sanctions and sent it to US President Bill Clinton for his signature to make it into a law.
The house, earlier in the day, passed by a voice vote the legislation which was approved by the senate last week by a 98-0 vote.
The agriculture credits are part of the economic sanctions that the Clinton administration had slapped on India and Pakistan after their nuclear tests in May.
The bill, cleared with an unusual promptness by both houses of the US congress would open the way for an agreement with Pakistan for the purchase of 385,000 tonnes of white wheat, most of which is grown in the Pacific north-west.
President Clinton, who had publicly supported the bill, is expected to put his signature on it soon, to enable American farmers to submit tenders for wheat sale to Pakistan, the deadline for which expires today.
Apparently, the powerful farm lobby had compelled law-makers and the administration to make the necessary exemption in the sanctions.
Earlier, several Congressmen made out a strong case for a review of the sanctions which they felt had harmed American interests more.
"Clearly it is in the interests of US workers and US companies to eliminate sanctions that penalise our working men and women and that is why we need to go further," said Congressman Calvin Dooley, (Democrat).
House panel on South Asian affairs chief Doug Bereuter (Republican) said French, Australian and Canadian farmers "will exploit this lucrative wheat export market at a time when American wheat prices for our farmers are at the lowest point in decades and we desperately need to hold on to those export markets."
The house bill exempts agricultural commodities from the embargo for one year. The original senate version provided a permanent exemption. The senate accepted the house version to avoid any wastage of time in procedural issues.
Congressman Bob Smith (Republican), who is chairman of the house agriculture committee, said, "This bill will fix the immediate problem and permit our farmers to take advantage of the Pakistani wheat tender while allowing Congress time to work toward a more permanent resolution."
According to reports, Islamabad proposes to use credits to purchase up to $ 250 million in American wheat during this fiscal year. Last year, 37 per cent of the wheat grown in the Pacific north-west went to Pakistan.
In contrast, India imported about $ 142 million in total agricultural goods last year.
INFOTECH | TRAVEL | LIFE/STYLE | FREEDOM | FEEDBACK