Armenian Assembly of America
122 C Street, NW, Suite 350
Washington, DC 20001
Email: [email protected]
April 20, 2004
CONTACT: Christine Kojoian
E-mail: [email protected]
ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR KEY U.S.-ARMENIA TRADE BILL
State Department Official Delivers News at Pan-Armenian, Non-Partisan
Washington, DC – The drive to extend trade benefits to Armenia gained a
major boost yesterday as the Bush Administration publicly announced its
strong support for a pending bill that would deepen the U.S.-Armenia trade
relationship during a national Armenian-American conference organized by the
Armenian Assembly of America.
Ambassador Elizabeth Jones, Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of European
and Eurasian Affairs addressed her remarks to Armenian-American activists
participating in a three-day conference sponsored by the Armenian Assembly,
the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) and the Eastern and Western
Diocese of the Armenian Church.
“We want Armenia to benefit from WTO membership and to do that we are
working toward permanent normal trade relations [PNTR] with Armenia, which
we will try to push through Congress,” Ambassador Jones said.
The keynote luncheon speaker that same day, Senate Majority Whip Mitch
McConnell (R-KY), and ardent supporter of closer U.S.-Armenia relations
said, “I hope we are able to move this legislation in the near future.”
Senator McConnell, together with Senator Sarbanes (D-MD) and Senator Barbara
Boxer (D-CA), last summer introduced S.1557, which would authorize the
extension of PNTR to Armenia.
Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) who gave the keynote address at the National
Conference that evening said: “This is of course good news for all of us,
but now we must continue to press the Administration and the relevant
committees in Congress to expedite action on this important issue. We need
to carry through on this proposal.”
The bill, which has a counterpart in the House already passed as an
amendment to a larger tax bill, calls for the termination of the
Jackson-Vanik Amendment with respect to Armenia. If enacted, it would
remove the nearly 30-year-old provision requiring Armenia to periodically
obtain presidential approval for continued access to low tariffs.
“The argument we make is that the purpose of Jackson-Vanik was to encourage
religious freedom and free immigration,” Ambassador Jones said. “Obviously
there is no issue with Armenian compliance with that.”
The bill’s passage would also herald other benefits, such as strengthening
bilateral relations and allowing Armenia to fully avail itself of its
membership in the WTO. Increased U.S.-Armenia trade and investment will
also help offset the damaging impact of Turkey’s and Azerbaijan’s decade-old
“One of the Assembly’s highest legislative priorities this year was to ask
Congress to extend PNTR to Armenia and we thank Ambassador Jones and the
Bush Administration for this long sought for news,” said Executive Director
Ross Vartian. He added that “the Administration’s choice of venue for this
announcement underscores the significant impact the National Conference has
had on U.S. policymakers.”
“Given the overwhelming bi-partisan and bi-cameral support of this bill, and
now the public call from the Administration for passage, we look forward to
Congress acting expeditiously and send this bill to the President,”
The three-day Conference was an opportunity for the Assembly, AGBU and
Eastern and Western Diocese of the Armenian Church and their respective
constituencies to speak for the first time with a collective, non-partisan
voice on issues of concern before the Administration and Congress.
The AGBU is the world’s largest non-profit, philanthropic organization
devoted to education, cultural and humanitarian programs. Headquartered in
New York, the organization has a budget of $28 million and serves some
400,000 Armenians annually.
The Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern) is the spiritual and
administrative head of the Armenian Apostolic Church in the Eastern U.S.
Together with the Western Diocese of the Armenian Church, it exists under
the authority of the ancient Mother See of the worldwide Armenian Church,
Holy Etchmiadzin, in Armenia.
The Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide
organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian
issues. It is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.
Photographs available on the Assembly’s Web site at the following link:
Caption: Ambassador Elizabeth Jones speaking at the Armenian Assembly’s
National Conference and Banquet in Washington DC on April 19.
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress