USA*ENGAGE Cautions Against Further Sanctions

Thursday, 4 May 2000

"We recognize that the Commission on International Religious Freedom has addressed many serious issues – and has provided some very thoughtful recommendations for influencing religious freedom around the world. However, the Commission’s apparent reliance on economic sanctions as a tool for change is neither constructive nor realistic. Sanctions amount to little more than a ‘feel good’ approach to a very serious problem," said Frank Kittredge, President of the National Foreign Trade Council and Vice Chairman of USA*ENGAGE.

"The Commission’s call for denial of PNTR for China, in particular, is unfortunate," Kittredge continued. "We strongly agree with the State Department’s rejection of the Commission’s stance on PNTR."

The U.S. Department of State has said the following:

"We profoundly believe that (PNTR) conditionality will not advance the cause of religious freedom in China, and will not improve the circumstances of any of the religious adherents about whom we are all deeply concerned. … even a vote to reject PNTR provides little more than the appearance of U.S. leverage against the Chinese government. It would not prevent Chinese entry in to the World Trade Organization (WTO); nor would it deprive China of the economic benefits of WTO membership."

Kittredge also noted that calls for "economic pressure" on Sudan would stand little chance of making a difference. "The United States already has comprehensive unilateral sanctions in place against the Sudanese. It’s unlikely one more sanction is going to change a thing, and could actually shift attention from taking the constructive steps that might actually make a difference," he concluded.

USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of 670 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. For more information on USA*ENGAGE and the harmful effects of unilateral trade sanctions, visit the USA*ENGAGE web site at