BILL REQ. #: S-4053.1
|State of Washington||58th Legislature||2004 Regular Session|
Read first time 01/26/2004. Referred to Committee on Agriculture.
TO THE HONORABLE GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,
AND TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE AND THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, AND TO THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE
UNITED STATES, IN CONGRESS ASSEMBLED, AND TO THE HONORABLE ELAINE L.
CHAO, SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR:
We, your Memorialists, the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Washington, in legislative session assembled, respectfully represent and petition as follows:
WHEREAS, Washington's economic prospects are heavily dependent upon the success of interstate and international trade; and
WHEREAS, The vitality of the asparagus industry is a crucial component of the economic health of the State of Washington, as Washington is historically the nation's second largest producer of asparagus; and
WHEREAS, In order to provide an agricultural alternative to the production of cocaine in South American countries, the United States Congress enacted the "Andean Trade Preference Act," exempting certain agricultural products from the imposition of tariffs; and
WHEREAS, South American asparagus is one of the agricultural products exempted from tariffs, and the exemption has created an asparagus industry in Peru with 130 million dollars in annual exports, primarily to the United States; and
WHEREAS, Due to differing climatic zones in Peru, the rapid expansion of year-round asparagus production has not significantly affected the production of cocaine; and
WHEREAS, Unlike other international agreements, there is no mechanism in the Andean Trade Preference Act for removing the trade exemption once a foreign industry becomes internationally competitive; and
WHEREAS, The asparagus industry in Washington is seasonal, with harvesting occurring from April through June, in contrast to Peru's year-round production capacity; and
WHEREAS, The International Trade Commission, an independent, nonpartisan federal fact-finding agency, concluded in October 2003 that among all the agricultural products protected under the Andean Trade Preference Act, the agricultural industry was the only United States industry currently being displaced by South American agricultural products; and
WHEREAS, Andean asparagus producers benefit from both the absence of any tariff imposed on their crops and extremely low wages paid to their employees, often as low as 5 dollars per day; and
WHEREAS, The asparagus industry in Washington is threatened and has been harmed by the importation of such foreign produce, primarily from Peru, resulting in the decision by two Washington asparagus processors to cease buying Washington asparagus; and
WHEREAS, Although the goal of the Andean Trade Preference Act is worthwhile, it should not be imposed at the complete expense of the northwest asparagus industry, a vital sector of Washington's economy;
NOW, THEREFORE, Your Memorialists respectfully pray that Congress immediately eliminate the preference given to asparagus and asparagus products under the Andean Trade Preference Act and refuse to extend any further protection to Andean asparagus producers upon expiration of the Act.
BE IT RESOLVED, That copies of this Memorial be immediately transmitted to the Honorable George W. Bush, President of the United States, the honorable Elaine L. Chao, Secretary of the Department of Labor, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and each member of Congress from the State of Washington.