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29391: Leiderman: comment: HR 6142 - Hope for Haiti or China? (fwd)

Leiderman <leiderman@mindspring.com>

dear Readers:

 I'm receiving requests to write letters supporting the proposed US
 Congress bill HR 6142 that some are calling the "Hope for Haiti" Act.  a
 copy of the bill is at

 while the legislation is principally for the benefit of sub-Saharan
 African countries, there is an addition concerning Haiti, beginning
 "Title III: Haiti" on page 39 of the bill referenced above.  it is
 limited to the assembly of wearing apparel, with special rules for
 brassieres and automotive electrical wire harnesses.  that's a twist.

my first reaction is that it is written in a way that few Haitians will understand, either the words or the impact.  my second reaction is that it is for items whose raw materials do not originate in Haiti.  my third reaction is that it  demands Haitian structural adjustment and a particular definition of democracy that's to be determined by the President of the United States, not by Congress, to wit (beginning on page 55 of the above referenced bill):

<snip> (d) Eligibility Requirements-(1) IN GENERAL- Haiti shall be eligible for preferential treatment under this section if the President determines and certifies to Congress that Haiti --

(A) has established, or is making continual progress toward establishing -- (i) a market-based economy that protects private property rights, incorporates an open rules-based trading system, and minimizes government interference in the economy through measures such as price controls, subsidies, and government ownership of economic assets; (ii) the rule of law, political pluralism, and the right to due process, a fair trial, and equal protection under the law; (iii) the elimination of barriers to United States trade and investment, including by -- (I) the provision of national treatment and measures to create an environment conducive to domestic and foreign investment; (II) the protection of intellectual property; and (III) the resolution of bilateral trade and investment disputes; (iv) economic policies to reduce poverty, increase the availability of health care and educational opportunities, expand physical infrastructure, promote the development of private enterprise, and encourage the formation of capital markets through microcredit or other programs; (v) a system to combat corruption and bribery, such as signing and implementing the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions; and (vi) protection of internationally recognized worker rights, including the right of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, a prohibition on the use of any form of forced or compulsory labor, a minimum age for the employment of children, and acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health;

(B) does not engage in activities that undermine United States national security or foreign policy interests; and

(C) does not engage in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights or provide support for acts of international terrorism and cooperates in international efforts to eliminate human rights violations and terrorist activities. <snip>

looking for some published comments on the bill, I found:

<snip> â??This important legislation is part of our moral imperative to care for the least among us and reflects the deep-rooted humanitarian concerns of the American people,â?? Bishop Wenski said. â??It also offers a meaningful path for many vulnerable people in Haiti to become true partners in their own future."  Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, Florida.

<snip> "I would like to acknowledge and thank House Ways and Means ranking member Charles Rangel (D-NY) for his tireless work urging House leaders to put the bill back on the calendar. The HOPE bill would have expanded trade preferences for Haiti allowing apparel assembled in Haiti using third-country fabrics duty-free access to the United States market. It is a scaled down version of The Haiti Economy Recovery Opportunity (HERO) bill, H.R. 4211, which I introduced in the House in this 109th Congress. My HERO bill would have extended important trade benefits to Haiti in return for political, economic and social reforms by the Haitian government. However, the Republican leadership refused to bring my HERO bill to the House floor for consideration, even though the Senate passed it unanimously in the 108th Congress." <snip>

<snip> "Industry leaders had claimed the bill, if passed, could create as many as 20,000 jobs within four months. (Hardbeatnews.com, 9/28)" <snip>

<snip> "The Africa provisions of H.R. 6142 focus on apparel, a labor-intensive sector that usually represents the first manufacturing opportunity low-income countries can grasp. Yet most of the wealth created by apparel products comes from the textiles or fabric comprising them. And the Bush administration's own officials admit that African textile output is negligible.  The Thomas bill deals with [the] non-production problem by extending substantial import preferences to apparel products made from non-African as well as non-U.S. textiles. The bill reduces these third-country preferences only slightly through 2015. Where will many of these "third-country textiles" come from? China." <snip> Alan Tonelson, Sep 25, 2006,

I think this bill needs to be looked at more closely, especially by the Haitian government who should level with its citizens on the full economic, social and civic impact of such legislation.


Stuart Leiderman