Groups Warn of Consequences of Specter-Wolf Legislation

Tuesday, 24 March 1998

"The legislation, while well meaning, could trigger automatic unilateral sanctions against dozens of America's key allies and trading partners -- and is clearly the wrong tool for promoting religious tolerance," said Frank Kittredge, President of the National Foreign Trade Council and Vice Chairman of USA*ENGAGE.

Kittredge also noted that the National Council of Churches recognizes the legislation could ultimately do more harm than good, and is thereby opposed to H.R. 2431. A letter from the organization to Members of Congress refers to sanctions as "blunt, automatic and inflexible."

A mark up of H.R. 2431 is scheduled for Wednesday, March 25 in the House International Relations Committee.

In a letter to the bill's sponsor, Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), Tom Donohue, President and Chief Executive of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reiterated the Chamber's opposition to H.R. 2431, stating: "By their very presence and operations, American companies and the expatriate communities that depend on them, contribute mightily to economic, political and religious freedom in their host countries. Continuing U.S. company presence and engagement abroad is critical to the inculcation of American civic values, including religious tolerance."

As a further example of the importance of engagement, Kittredge referred to a letter sent by religious leader Billy Graham to Representative David Dreier (R-CA) during last year's China MFN debate, in which Graham stated: "China is rapidly becoming one of the dominant economic and political powers in the world, and I believe it is far better for us to keep China as a friend than to treat it as an adversary. Furthermore, in my experience, nations respond to friendship just as much as people do."

USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of 661 small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad.


Contact: Eric Thomas 202/822-9491

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