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Daily News

September 26, 2005

The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing Thursday (Sept. 29) to consider a free trade agreement (FTA) that the U.S. has negotiated with Bahrain, marking the first step in the process of congressional approval of the deal.

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The U.S. has many reservations about a tariff-reduction formula floated by the EU last week during talks in Paris of key World Trade Organization (WTO) members that would provide more flexibility for the EU and other importers as they reduce farm tariffs under a new WTO agreement, according to a U.S. trade official.

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September 16, 2005

U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman said today (Sept. 16) that the Bush Administration is considering waiving punitive duties on building materials, including lumber and steel, to aid the reconstruction efforts in the Gulf region after Hurricane Katrina. Portman said the issue of waiving antidumping and countervailing duties on building materials was being discussed in an interagency process, but no decisions have been made yet.

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In response to European Union pressure, the U.S. is ready to discuss potentially tighter disciplines on counter-cyclical subsidy payments in the Doha round.

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September 09, 2005

The free trade agreement with five Central American countries and the Dominican Republic (DR-CAFTA) should be implemented as planned on Jan. 1, 2006 even if some of the parties have yet to ratify the deal, U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman told reporters on Sept. 8.

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September 06, 2005

Canadian Trade Minister James Peterson in an interview with Inside U.S. Trade has refused to rule out that Canada would return to lumber negotiations with the United States even if it does not revoke 21 percent antidumping and countervailing duties on Canadian imports.

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September 02, 2005

The Nicaraguan government of President Enrique Bolanos is facing a major political crisis as a group of opponents is trying to take his power away by amongst other things impeaching Bolanos and restoring the freedom of former Nicaraguan president Arnoldo Aleman who has been imprisoned for fraud and money laundering, according to Nicaraguan Foreign Affairs Minister Norman Caldera.

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August 30, 2005

The legal twists and turns in the softwood lumber fight reflected in the U.S. victory at the World Trade Organization yesterday (Aug. 30) illustrate that only negotiations will ultimately solve the dispute between the U.S. and Canada, a U.S. trade official said today.

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August 29, 2005

A World Trade Organization panel has ruled in favor of the U.S. and its lumber producers, rejecting Canadian arguments that a 2004 finding by the U.S. International Trade Commission failed to bring the U.S. into compliance with an earlier panel decision, according to sources.

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August 17, 2005

Mexico will impose retaliatory tariffs on $20.9 million in three product categories effective Aug. 18 because the U.S. has failed to repeal the controversial Byrd law that distributes antidumping and countervailing duties to the petitioners of underlying trade cases, according to an announcement in the Diario Official.

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August 11, 2005

An Extraordinary Challenge Committee (ECC) this week ruled against the United States by finding that an earlier panel under the North American Free Trade Agreement was right to fault the International Trade Commission for deciding that U.S. lumber producers were threatened with injury by Canadian exports.

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August 05, 2005

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) this week said that the production of ethanol from sugar may be possible in “a few years” when there is not enough corn to use as an ethanol feed stock to the point of driving up the price of corn as animal feed. At that point, other products, including sugar, may be used for ethanol production, he said in an Aug. 2 press conference with Iowa farm broadcasters.

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July 28, 2005

The House late last night approved the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement by a vote of 217-215 with the support of 15 Democrats. The deciding vote was cast by Rep. Robyn Hayes (R-NC) who switched from no to yes.

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July 27, 2005

The House at 6:20pm local Washington time began a one-hour debate on the rule for a bill implementing a free trade agreement between the United States and Central American countries. A vote on the rule is expected shortly before 8 pm, and the two-hour debate on the CAFTA implementing bill is expected to start at around 9pm.

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July 20, 2005

Republican House leaders have tentatively scheduled a vote on a free trade agreement with the Dominican Republic and five Central American countries for Wednesday, July 27, according to informed sources. It would be preceded by a vote on a China trade bill introduced by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA), which would be considered under the suspension of House rules.

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July 13, 2005

Deputy Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) today told a business group that the House leadership will soon set a date certain for a House floor vote in July on the free trade agreement the United States has negotiated with the Dominican Republic and five Central American countries, according to private-sector sources. These sources said they expected the announcement early next week.

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July 11, 2005

The chairman of World Trade Organization talks on non-agricultural market access late last week acknowledged the negotiations are at an impasse and said members will be unable to meet their goal of agreeing to modalities at the Hong Kong ministerial unless they first can agree on the kind of formula that will be used to cut tariffs.

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July 08, 2005

U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman will be attending the mini-ministerial hosted by the Chinese government next week to advance the Doha round, following the July 11 session of the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in Beijing, a USTR spokesman said on July 8. However, it is still not certain that Portman will attend the entire meeting, which is scheduled for July 12 and 13, he said.

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June 30, 2005

The Senate on June 29 began debate on a free trade agreement with five Central American countries and the Dominican Republic (DR-CAFTA), the same day the Finance Committee approved the final implementing bill by a voice vote and the Bush Administration offered assurances to curtail sugar imports if the U.S. market cannot absorb them.

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June 28, 2005

Sen. Craig Thomas (R-WY) today (June 28) said he is prepared to vote against legislation implementing a free-trade agreement the Bush Administration has negotiated with five Central American countries and the Dominican Republic in the Finance Committee tomorrow absent a satisfactory deal to address problems identified by the sugar industry.

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