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Daily News

May 04, 2004

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) today (May 4) said he remains upset over the Bush Administration’s decision to exclude sugar from the U.S.-Australian free trade agreement, and wants assurances that products will not be excluded from future FTAs before he moves forward with legislation implementing the Australia deal.

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April 28, 2004

New York-- In an effort to inject fresh momentum into the deadlocked negotiations on the Free Trade Area of the Americas, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim have instructed officials from both sides to work out a compromise on the extent to which the common set of trade obligations in the agreement should focus on market access and new trade rules.

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April 26, 2004

An interim World Trade Organization ruling issued today handed Brazil a victory today (April 26) on the key elements of a challenge it brought against U.S. cotton subsidies, according to informed sources.

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April 07, 2004

The Senate this afternoon for a second time failed to invoke cloture to limit debate on a bill repealing the foreign sales corporation tax system and its successor regime, even though Republicans reached out to Democrats for their support by offering to allow a vote on a controversial amendment offered by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) that contributed to the failure of the previous cloture vote. Today’s cloture vote failed 49-48, falling 11 votes short of the 60 necessary to invoke cloture.

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April 06, 2004

An interim World Trade Organization panel decision on Brazil’s challenge of U.S. cotton subsidies expected on April 8 has been delayed, and the panel has notified parties that it would make its decision by April 26, according to informed sources. The panel is expected to be the first one to interpret the commitments that countries took on in the Uruguay Round in terms of limiting their trade-distorting subsidies, including the meaning of the so-called peace clause.

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March 29, 2004

March 26, 2004

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick acknowledged on March 25 that the trademark law known as Section 211 could either be amended or repealed in order to bring the U.S. into compliance with a World Trade Organization ruling against the law. However, he told a hearing of the House Appropriations subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary that he favored simply amending the law, since the WTO only ruled narrowly against the measure in 2002.

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Market access has emerged as the most difficult issue to resolve following the conclusion of the fist week of World Trade Organization agriculture talks since last year’s failed Cancun ministerial, the chair of those talks reported today (March 26).

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March 24, 2004

The Senate at noon today rejected an initial motion to limit floor debate on a bill to repeal the Foreign Sales Corporation tax regime and its successor that would also have prevented Democrats from raising non-germane amendments to the bill. The largely partisan 51-47 vote on the motion to limit debate by invoking cloture fell 9 votes short of the 60 needed to limit debate.

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March 23, 2004

Senate Democrats today (March 23) expressed confidence that they have enough votes to block a procedural move invoked by Senate GOP leaders earlier this week that is intended to limit debate on a bill repealing the Foreign Sales Corporation tax regime and its successor regime, and to make it difficult for Democrats to offer amendments dealing with wider economic issues. This could cover a measure sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) that would prevent Labor Dept. regulations on overtime pay from going into effect.

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March 22, 2004

European Union Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler today signaled new EU flexibility on the possible elimination of agricultural export subsidies as World Trade Organization members opened their first formal farm talks since the collapse of last year’s Cancun ministerial.

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European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs David Byrne late last week said he is confident the first new authorization of a genetically modified crop will be approved by the end of April or the beginning of May, and that a second crop will be authorized a few weeks after the first. He said this would make moot the U.S. challenge to the EU’s moratorium on new approvals for genetically modified foods in the World Trade Organization.

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March 18, 2004

The U.S. today (March 18) took a step towards filing the first challenge against China in the World Trade Organization by requesting formal consultations on the value-added tax the Chinese government imposes disproportionately on semiconductor imports. In its formal announcement, the U.S. government said this policy discriminates against foreign products and distorts both purchasing and investment decisions, and that the U.S. has made numerous unsuccessful efforts to resolve this dispute.

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March 17, 2004

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) said today (March 17) that House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) is prepared to explain his tax bill repealing the Foreign Sales Corporation and his successor regime after he marks up revenue provisions that will reduce the cost of the bill.

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March 15, 2004

The U.S. and the Dominican Republic today announced the conclusion of negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement that the Bush Administration hopes will ultimately be docked into an already negotiated agreement between the U.S. and five Central American countries. Negotiators reached agreement after resolving difficulties covering market access fights on a number of key agricultural commodities as well as textiles and apparel.

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March 12, 2004

Rep. Cal Dooley (D-CA) today predicted that the recently completed free trade agreement between the U.S. and Australia would secure congressional approval before Congress adjourns for its summer recess but that Congress was unlikely to approve the FTAs the Bush Administration has completed with Morocco and five Central American countries.

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March 10, 2004

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick on March 9 indicated that he continues to favor complying with a World Trade Organization ruling by amending a controversial trademark law known as Section 211, instead of repealing it altogether as some have proposed. In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, Zoellick pointed to the law as an example of where the U.S. needs to comply with WTO rulings that found its laws violate international trade rules.

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An informal meeting of trade vice-ministers this week failed to resolve the fundamental issue of what obligations all countries have to take on in the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and as a result have decided they cannot resume negotiations on the FTAA next week as originally scheduled, a U.S. trade official announced today (March 10).

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March 09, 2004

House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX) this week signaled that a bill sponsored by House Ways & Means Committee chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) to repeal the Foreign Sales Corporation and its successor regime still has not garnered enough support to pass the House. But he said that he hoped the bill could come up for a floor vote before the Easter break, which is scheduled for April 3.

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March 05, 2004

Lead U.S. negotiator Catherine Novelli today (March 5) said the U.S. and Bahrain hope to finalize negotiations on a free trade agreement in the first half of this year. Speaking to reporters following the conclusion of the second round of free trade talks between the two countries, Novelli said negotiators have yet to come across any “points that are not solvable,” and she does not believe there were any “deal breaking obstacles” facing negotiators.

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