Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, June 24, 2003

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U.S. Commercial & Trade Policy in East Asia
Leach Schedules Wednesday Oversight Hearing

BACKGROUND: In November 2001, the ten member countries of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) unveiled a framework agreement to achieve free trade with China by 2013. At the same time, ASEAN affirmed a "Comprehensive Economic Partnership" agreement with Japan, held its first summit with India, and took preparatory steps toward integrating the economies of "ASEAN-+3," which includes China, Japan, and South Korea. Meanwhile, in late 2002, the United States announced its own "Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative" as the centerpiece of a new strategy to strengthen U.S. relations with Southeast Asia. Singapore and the U.S. signed a free trade agreement (FTA) this May which, if approved by Congress, would serve as a model for trade liberalization agreements. Australia’s hopes for an FTA with the U.S. received a significant boost from Canberra’s active military and political support for the campaign against Iraq. In May, President Bush proposed December 2003 as the deadline for the conclusion of negotiations. However, countries less supportive of the U.S. campaign in Iraq can expect less interest from Washington in expanding trade. New Zealand, for example, had hoped to piggyback on the U.S.-Australia FTA, but after pointed comments by their Prime Minister about Iraq, U.S. Trade Representative Zoellick stated that Wellington "had taken some actions that would pose problems for Congressional passage" of a U.S.-New Zealand FTA.

WHAT: Oversight hearing, U.S. Trade and Commercial Policy in Southeast Asia and Oceania
Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, James A. Leach, Chairman

WHEN: 10:15 a.m., Wednesday, June 25, 2003

WHERE: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES: James A. Kelly, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Ralph F. Ives, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Asia-Pacific and APEC Affairs.

Questions to be raised during the hearing:

bulletWould the proposed free trade agreements with Singapore, Australia and other countries in Southeast Asia and Oceania support or undermine the goal of greater worldwide trade liberalization and globalization?
bulletWhat standards govern the decision by the Administration to seek free trade agreements? Are national security and foreign policy concerns paramount, or are these proposed deals dictated by commercial and international economic policy considerations?
bulletHow effective and coordinated is U.S. commercial diplomacy in Southeast Asia? What are the implications for the U.S., if any, of commercial and political rivalry between China and Japan in Southeast Asia? What impact will the proposed FTAs between both China and Japan with ASEAN have on U.S. interests?

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