House Committee Adopts Turkey Trade Preferences For Indian Tribal La


Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.)

WASHINGTON-The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee voted today to
limit foreign trade preferences on Indian tribal lands to one country –
Turkey – after proponents of the measure, resorting to parliamentary
tactics, blocked the consideration of a human rights amendment that
would have provided investment opportunities to a broader range
of qualifying countries, reported the Armenian National Committee
of America.

“The controversy over this preferential trade measure reflects the
growing unease in Congress over an increasingly arrogant and aggressive
Turkey that uses both high-priced lobbying and heavy-handed bullying
to demand special treatment, even as it leaders disdain our values,
undermine our interests, and threaten our allies.” said Aram Hamparian,
ANCA’s Executive Director. “We are disappointed that the Sarbanes
Amendment – a constructive measure which deserved an up-or-down vote –
was blocked, not on its merits, but through parliamentary measures.”

“The ANCA joins with all our Armenian, Hellenic, and human rights
community partners in expressing our appreciation to Representatives
Sarbanes, Pallone, Tsongas and Duncan for all their efforts, and look
forward to working with our allies in working reverse this measure
in the interest of a strong, balanced, and moral U.S. trade policy,”
added Hamparian.

Maryland Democrat John Sarbanes (D-MD) led Committee efforts to amend
H.R.2362 – The Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Demonstration Project
Act of 2011, a resolution spearheaded by the Turkish lobby to provide
special trade incentives for Turkish firms to invest on Indian Tribal
lands. Citing concerns about Turkey’s history of repression of its
own indigenous populations and reports that the provision would
violate existing U.S. trade agreements, Rep. Sarbanes argued that
the legislation should be expanded to all countries with strong human
rights records.

Committee chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA), however, responding to an
objection by Rep. Don Young (R-AK), ruled the Sarbanes amendment
out of order, paving the way for a Committee vote on the underlying
provision as introduced. Despite extensive debate, including strong
statements by Rep. Sarbanes, Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chair
Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Rep. Nikki Tsongas (D-MA) and John Duncan (R-TN),
the Committee adopted the measure by a vote of 27 for and 15 against.

Joining Representative Sarbanes in voting against the measure were
(in alphabetical order): Representatives Jim Costa (D-CA), Peter
DeFazio (D-OR), Jeff Denham (R-CA), John Duncan (R-TN), Raul Grijalva
(D-AZ), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Dale Kildee (D-MI), Raul Labrador (R-ID),
Douglas Lamborn (R-CO), Edward Markey (D-MA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ),
David Rivera (R-FL), Betty Sue Sutton (D-OH), and Niki Tsongas (D-MA).

Voting in favor of the Turkey trade incentives bill were (in
alphabetical order): Mark Amodei (R-NV), Daniel Benishek (R-MI),
Rob Bishop (R-UT), Dan Boren (D-OK), Paul Broun (R-GA), Mike Coffman
(R-CO), John Fleming (R-LA), William Flores (R-TX), John Garamendi
(D-CA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Andy Harris (R-MD),
Doc Hastings (R-WA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Bill Johnson (R-OH),
Jeffrey Landry (R-LA), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Tom McClintock (R-CA),
Kristi Lynn Noem (R-SD), Pedro Pierluisi (D-PR), Jon Runyan (R-NJ),
Gregorio Sablan (I-CNMI), Steve Southerland (R-FL), Glenn Thompson
(R-PA), Scott Tipton (R-CO), Robert Wittman (R-VA) and Don Young

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) “This amendment will open up the playing
field fairly and benefit tribes by having more partners to work
with,” said Pallone at the Natural Resources Committee Markup on
the legislation. “The Republic of Turkey acts increasingly hostile to
U.S. interest and has a long history of human rights violations. Turkey
is not a country that should be receiving preferential treatment in
any sense and certainly not explicitly approved by this Congress.”

In the days leading up to today’s vote, Armenian and Hellenic Americans
from across the United States called on members of the U.S.

House Natural Resources Committee to vote against this legislation.

In a statement addressed to Natural Resources Committee Chairman
Doc Hastings and Ranking Democrat Ed Markey (D-MA), ANCA Government
Affairs Director Kate Nahapetian cited “serious moral and practical
reservations, as well as the clear inequities and even potential
violations of trade agreements” stemming from the adoption of this
measure. She explained that “the U.S. Congress should not extend
special economic benefits to a country that remains an unrepentant
perpetrator of genocide against millions of its own indigenous
minorities, including Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, and others.”

Nahapetian went on to reference a recent Congressional Research
Service (CRS) report, which notes that H.R.2362 “could violate our
obligations under NAFTA and the WTO General Agreement on Trade in
Services (GATS).” The ANCA statement argued “It remains an open
and unanswered question as to why Congress should give Turkey an
advantage over other countries, such as Canada, that have not only
shown a material interest, but have actually already entered into
agreements with tribes.”

Similarly, American Hellenic Educational and Progressive
Association (AHEPA) Chairman Dr. John Grossomanides explained,
“AHEPA wishes to raise areas of concern that shed light on 1. Turkish
threats to U.S. commercial interests 2) Turkey’s mistreatment of
minority communities, and 3) Turkish entities already in the United
States. AHEPA strongly contends that these three areas of concern
are quite germane to the legislation because they demonstrate Turkish
attitude toward U.S. commercial interests and behavior toward minority
communities and reflect the existing track record of Turkish entities
in the United States.”

The Armenian Assembly of America (AAA), PSEKA (International
Coordinating Committee – Justice for Cyprus), Cyprus Federation of
America, Pancyprian Association of America, and the American Hellenic
Council also went on the record opposing the bill.

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