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Public Papers - 1989

Statement on Signing the Steel Trade Liberalization Program Implementation Act

1989-12-12

Today I sign H.R. 3275, the ``Steel Trade Liberalization Program Implementation Act.'' This law underscores the bipartisan support in the Congress for the Steel Trade Liberalization Program I announced on July 25, 1989. I am pleased that the initial phase of negotiations to implement my program has been successfully completed. These negotiations, conducted under the direction of Ambassador Carla Hills, produced agreements to:

-- Extend the existing Voluntary Restraint Arrangements (VRAs) for 2/2\ years; and

-- Eliminate trade-distorting practices in the steel sector.

I am particularly pleased with the bilateral consensus agreements to eliminate trade-distorting practices. For the first time countries have agreed to market-opening goals and to disciplines over trade-distorting subsidies. Our trading partners have pledged to work with us in the Uruguay Round, both to codify under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) the disciplines on subsidies and to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to steel trade. These bilateral agreements on steel are stepping-stones to a multilateral agreement in the Uruguay Round to provide comprehensive disciplines over trade-distorting practices.

H.R. 3275 also contains two other provisions that are important for our international trade policy:

-- The superfund petroleum tax amendment brings the United States into conformity with an important GATT ruling. The enactment of this provision reinforces the commitment by the Administration and the Congress to full compliance with our GATT obligations; and

-- The ethanol provision implements a time-sensitive portion of pending legislation to enhance the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI). I look forward with enthusiasm to the enactment of Administration-supported CBI legislation early next year.

Section 2 of the bill, which amends the Steel Import Stabilization Act (19 U.S.C. 2253 note), adds a section 803(d) that requires the President to provide the Congress with an annual assessment of the progress of specified trade negotiations. I view this provision as duplicative of existing statutory provisions for keeping congressional trade advisors informed on trade negotiations and will implement it consistent with my constitutional authority to protect information relating to negotiations with foreign nations.

George Bush

The White House,

December 12, 1989.

Note: H.R. 3275, approved December 12, was assigned Public Law No. 101 - 221.

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