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Daily News

March 05, 2004

Informed sources this week said the Bush Administration is considering not releasing to the public a report to the president that is expected to recommend a series of policy options the U.S. can take to hasten a democratic transition in Cuba. These sources said that while no decision has been made, U.S. officials are clearly considering this move, which is already being perceived by some as a way to insulate the administration from public criticism that it is not following through on whatever steps are recommended.

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Senate Republicans will decide at the end of next week on how to proceed with a bill to repeal tax benefits under the Foreign Sales Corporation and its successor regime in light of the current plan by Senate Democratic leaders to raise amendments dealing with broader economic and employment issues, according to a leadership aide.

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March 02, 2004

The Senate on Wednesday morning (March 3) will begin debate on a bill to repeal the foreign sales corporation tax system and its successor regime without an agreement between Republicans and Democrats to limit amendments, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) said this week.

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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick today (March 2) said that the Bush Administration hopes to secure congressional approval in 2004 for as many of the three recently concluded free trade deals “as possible,” but acknowledged that passing the Central American Free-Trade Agreement would be harder than the just concluded free-trade agreement with Morocco and the FTA with Australia.

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February 27, 2004

World Trade Organization Director General Supachai Panitchpakdi today (Feb. 27) downplayed the possibility of a ministerial on the Doha Round this year, saying progress can instead be made by senior officials working with instructions from their respective trade ministers. These officials could work to reach a framework agreement by mid-year, Supachai said, which would be similar to what WTO members had hoped to achieve at last year’s failed Cancun ministerial.

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February 25, 2004

The Senate has a short window of floor time to consider S.1637, a bill to repeal the Foreign Sales Corporation tax scheme and its successor regime, the Extraterritorial Income Act, a Senate leadership ship aide said today (Feb. 25). This source said the Senate’s ability to conclude work on FSC largely depends on two factors; how quickly it can conclude debate that began this morning on a bill limiting the legal liability of gun manufacturers, and whether Republicans and Democrats reach an agreement to limit amendments to the FSC-ETI bill.

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February 24, 2004

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) today (Feb. 24) said the Senate will consider a bill to repeal the Foreign Sales Corporation tax system and its successor regime after it has dealt with two bills dealing with medical liability and gun liability. Frist also said he expected amendments to be introduced to the bill to repeal FSC and the Extraterritorial Income Act, which he called the “jumpstart for business support and jobs” bill.

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European Union Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy will again press the U.S. to repeal its Foreign Sales Corporation tax scheme during a visit to Washington later this week that begins just four days before the European Union is scheduled to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports on March 1.

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February 23, 2004

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick late last week signaled a possible softening of the U.S. position on two demands pushed by the G20 group of developing countries, led by Brazil, in talks aimed at liberalizing agricultural trade in the World Trade Organization.

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February 20, 2004

The new chairman of World Trade Organization agriculture negotiations has called for talks to resume the week of March 22 in Geneva. Chairman Tim Groser also emphasized in a note to WTO delegations that the forthcoming talks would be structured to encourage discussions between participants and not with the chair.

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February 13, 2004

Assistant Secretary for Import Administration James Jochum traveled to Paris this week for the latest round of negotiations on an international agreement to discipline the use of steel subsidies to reinforce to countries that the Bush Administration is “is still very much committed to this process,” he told reporters on Feb. 12.

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Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Larry Craig (R-ID) this week told White House and State Department officials that they would soon be requesting that the General Accounting Office audit U.S. procedures for granting licenses to travel to Cuba. In a private hearing on Feb. 11, the two senators told Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega and his deputy, Dan Fisk, that they would request this audit in light of numerous complaints that travel licenses are being denied that previously were routinely granted.

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European Union Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler will address multilateral issues, particularly reviving the Doha Round, as well as bilateral trade problems when he meets with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman and other senior U.S. officials next week. Fischler will visit Washington from Feb. 18 to 20 and will give a speech at the USDA’s Agriculture Outlook Forum on “Farm Policies and their Reform: Lessons from Europe” on Feb. 19.

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February 10, 2004

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) today (Feb. 10) said he is leaning in favor of supporting a free-trade agreement with Australia but has yet to make a final decision pending review of the final text. Grassley warned that the exclusion of sugar and the sheltering of beef and dairy from Australian imports could hurt U.S. agriculture in the long run by encouraging other countries to exclude sensitive commodities from bilateral and multilateral negotiations.

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February 08, 2004

The U.S. and Australia today (Feb. 8) announced they had concluded a free-trade agreement that excludes new market access for sugar and to a large extent shelters U.S. beef and dairy producers from Australian competition. The U.S. would agree to increase market access for Australian dairy and beef, but would never fully open its market by phasing out its above-quota duties on dairy.

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February 06, 2004

U.S. and Australian negotiators are continuing their eleventh-hour push to conclude a free-trade agreement, but a U.S. official signaled today (Feb. 6) that there is no more than a 50-50 chance that the talks will conclude successfully before the two trade ministers involved leave Washington this weekend.

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February 05, 2004

Negotiators working to conclude a free-trade deal between the U.S. and Australia appear to have made little headway over the past week on the most controversial subjects despite engagement by the two trade ministers and now face a de facto deadline of this weekend for striking a deal.

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February 04, 2004

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) late last week rejected arguments from Bacardi-Martini USA that USPTO should not recognize the registration of the “Havana Club” rum trademark by a Cuban state-owned company. Bacardi had argued that the Cuban company, Cubaexport, should have its registration canceled because it did not renew the registration of the mark when it expired in 1996.

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January 30, 2004

A U.S. trade official yesterday (Jan. 29) clearly signaled that the U.S. will not insist that the Doha round of World Trade Organization negotiations include new talks on transparency in government procurement, which so far have been resisted by Malaysia and other developing countries.

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January 25, 2004

The U.S. and Costa Rica today (Jan. 25) announced that they have concluded talks that would bring Costa Rica into a Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) that was concluded late last year between the U.S. and four other Central American countries.

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