Press Releases

Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), joined by several colleagues in the House and Senate, introduced legislation to increase trade with the Middle East and Muslim world, “The Middle East Trade and Engagement Act of 2003.”

“Promoting stability and economic growth in this region of the world must be about more than just foreign aid and military action,” Smith said.  “We need to help bring these countries – and most importantly their people – into the global community, and history shows us that trade and economic relationships with other countries are the best way to reach that goal.  I am confident that a greater focus on trade with the Middle East and Muslim world will improve relations between America and these nations, promote economic growth and a rising middle class, and improve our national security.”

Joining Smith in introducing the House bill is Representative Cal Dooley (D-Calif.).  Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

The legislation would provide for duty-free treatment of certain goods for countries who meet a set of criteria.  The criteria includes:

  1. the beneficiary nation must be making progress towards a market-based economy;
  2. promotion of the rule of law, due process, and other judicial rights;
  3. political pluralism and democratic elections;
  4. elimination of barriers to trade;
  5. economic policies that reduce poverty and provide certain social benefits, such as health care, education, and physical infrastructure;
  6. a system to combat bribery and corruption;
  7. not engaging in activities that threaten U.S. security and supports a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
  8. a signatory of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights; and
  9. is not listed by the U.S. Department of State as a sponsor of terrorism.

Smith first proposed the idea of a Middle East and Muslim World Trade package in a speech last year to the World Trade Council in Seattle, Washington.  The speech can be found online at:
http://www.house.govinternational/021029pr.html.

In that speech, Smith recognized that goods from the Middle East were saddled with some of the highest tariffs in America.  “Our trade policy is skewed against this region of the world,” noted Smith.  “If we truly want the Middle East to become a more stable region of the world, with an economy that can support a real middle class instead of the poverty of dignity that supports terrorism, we must give them the opportunity to grow and sell their goods here in America.”

Some of these goods include agricultural products such as nuts, dates, and figs, and labor-intensive factory goods, particularly textiles such as luggage, clothing, and carpets.  The tariffs on these goods are among the highest of all goods imported.

“At the same time, this legislation demands action by those countries in the Middle East and Muslim World,” explained Smith.  “Every country in the region is eligible, but they need to meet a set of criteria that demonstrate a commitment to freedom, democracy, human rights, fighting terrorism, and building a real middle class in their own nation.  To be sure, most – if not all – of the eligible nations will have to make real reforms, but if they do so, this bill ensures their efforts will lead to a more productive relationship with America and the rest of the world.”

President Bush recently proposed his own Middle East trade initiative, culminating in the creation of a free trade area in the Middle East by 2013.

While this is a good long-term goal, the people in the Middle East need our help now.  The Middle East Trade and Engagement Act of 2003 can have an immediate impact and bring the benefits of trade to the people of the Middle East in a much shorter time.  It will also help those countries make the significant economic reforms they will have to make before a free trade agreement can become a realistic option.

“I believe this should be at the top of the Bush Administration’s trade agenda for 2003,” continued Smith.  “We must demonstrate to the Middle East and Muslim world that we are looking to be partners with them in the goal of economic growth and stability for their region.”
 

Today, in response to the Boeing Company’s release of a list of criteria for site selection for assembly of the 7E7, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) issued the following statement: 

“After seeing the criteria released today by the Boeing Company, I am more convinced than ever that the Puget Sound region is the right place for the 7E7 site.  Our region is attractive due to the first-class workforce, the strong community support for Boeing’s efforts, and our terrific ports, among other things.  I look forward to working with Boeing and our region’s leaders to ensure that Boeing builds the 7E7 here in the Puget Sound region and that the decades-long history of cooperation and partnership between Washington state and Boeing is strengthened in the 21st century.”

 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) announced today that the U.S. Department of Transportation has provided $9,900,131 for New Start funds for station construction along the Tacoma-Lakewood commuter rail segment.  The project will include two stations in Tacoma and one station in Lakewood, in addition to a park and ride facility at 512.

“I am very excited about the Tacoma to Lakewood Sounder segment,” said Smith. “It’ll give South Sound residents a viable transit alternative for their daily commutes.  Step by step, our region is moving towards solving our transportation problems and today’s announcement is an important component in that effort.”
 

Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) announced today that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has approved the Central Puget Sound Economic Development District’s applications for their economic development planning program and for an EDA direct investment. CEDC will receive $100,000 for program implementation and $96,000 to develop an economic cluster development plan for vacant areas adjacent to Sea-Tac Airport.

“The approval of these funds is great news for the Central Puget Sound area,” Smith said.  “The funding will allow the region to maintain its eligibility for EDA public works grants and other kinds of assistance.  Local communities can receive funding to strengthen their physical infrastructure, and create family-wage jobs for members of their community.  I expect to work closely with the Economic Development District on projects, like the Lakewood sewer, that are critical to our region.”

The EDA planning grant award will help the Economic Development District work with local governments and other economic development organizations to create family-wage jobs in the central Puget Sound region.  The Economic Development District will use the funds to help coordinate economic development in the region, provide technical assistance and prioritize public works projects within the region for EDA funding.  The grant award is especially critical now, when Washington state has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. 

The New Economic Strategy Triangle (NEST) initiative is a partnership between the cities of Des Moines, SeaTac and Burien, the Economic Development District and the Port of Seattle.  NEST will examine how to best use industrial and commercial properties near Sea-Tac International Airport and maximize their economic potential.

 

Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) announced today that he is co-sponsoring legislation to both bring the United States into compliance with World Trade Organization rulings and promote jobs in the United States.

H.R. 1769, The Job Protection Act of 2003, is a bipartisan bill led by Congressmen Phil Crane (R-Ill.) and Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.).  It would repeal the FSC/ETI (Foreign Services Corporation/Extraterritorial Income) and replace it with a domestic manufacturing and production income exclusion.

“Companies receiving tax benefits should be providing jobs to Americans,” Smith said.  “This bill addresses the FSC/ETI issue in a way that is fair and promotes job growth here in America.”

The World Trade Organization recently ruled that the U.S. FSC/ETI tax deduction was not in compliance because it unfairly promoted exports.  As of May 7, the European Union (EU) will be formally authorized to impose $4 billion in trade sanctions against the United States at any time.  Since the Bush Administration’s United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick has repeatedly said the issue could not be settled through negotiation, legislation repealing the FSC/ETI is necessary to prevent the EU’s trade sanctions.

House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) has promoted legislation that would repeal FSC/ETI and provide a new tax benefit primarily to multinational corporations.  Smith argues that approach rewards companies with large operations overseas and does nothing to help those companies that employ many Americans here at home and export their goods and services.

“This is a critically important issue, and the actions of Congress will have serious consequences,” said Smith.  “We must act to avoid trade sanctions which will hurt our already-fragile economy, businesses and workers; however, we must act wisely so that we don’t encourage businesses to move more operations overseas because of the way the tax code is structured.  This approach will allow us to avoid trade sanctions and will promote jobs here in the United States.  It’s a win-win for America.”

The Crane-Rangel bill is bipartisan and has the support of the majority of the Washington state delegation.  It is also supported by Boeing, Microsoft, and the AFL-CIO.