Vietnam Trade Deal Illustrates Difficult Road To Meaningful TradeReform

Friday,May 23, 2003                               ByShawn Wade

      Toborrow a line from author Margaret Mitchell the message U.S. Trade negotiatorsultimately gave to U.S. cotton and textile industry regarding the recentlycompleted Vietnam Bilateral Textile Agreement was “Frankly my dear I don’t givea damn”.

      Despiterepeated assurances that the U.S. position was going to strictly hold the linein regard to a trade deal with Vietnam, the final agreement includedunprecedented concessions.

      Thenet result of these generous, and mostly last minute, U.S. concessions has thepotential to be devastating, not just to the U.S. textile industry, but also tothe cotton producers who supply them fiber.

      Injust the category for cotton trousers, which includes denim jeans, Vietnam willbe allowed to bring in some 7,000,000 dozen, or roughly 84 million pairs ofjeans. This figure is 9 times the 778,000 dozen that Vietnam actually exportedin this category over the past year. This is the equivalent to giving away some400,000 bales of U.S. domestic cotton consumption.

      Thefinal U.S. offer was some 240% higher than the already generous initial 2.9million dozen quota offered at the beginning of negotiations in this area.

      Ashard as the final agreement is to swallow, perhaps the most disturbing part ofthe situation is the status of communication between U.S. industry and the U.S.Department of Commerce and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

      Evenas the negotiations were being completed and the final U.S. positions beingpresented Under Secretary of Commerce Grant Aldonas was assuring the textileand cotton industry that the US Trade Representatives office would hold theline and not give away their markets.

      Theclear, but unfortunate, translation of Mr. Aldonas and others’ promises of “wewill take care of you” actually meant “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn”.

      Thenew question for cotton and textile industry officials becomes what can we doto prevent another Vietnam debacle from occurring. Pointing out the devastatingfallout of concessions granted in the Vietnam trade deal and pounding home themessage that giving away the farm just to get a deal isn’t the way to implementmeaningful trade reforms and level the playing field of international trade.

      Thepending Central American Free Trade Agreement is the next obvious focus for ourindustry.

      Callingattention to the antics of the USTR’s office and reinforcing the idea thatsometimes it is better to say “our first offer was more than generous and youcan take it or leave it” is the only way to make sure a repeat performancedoesn’t happen.

 

Dryland Areas Hope Recent Storms Spark Planting Rains Area Has BeenWaiting For

Friday,May 23, 2003                               ByShawn Wade

      Aline of storms that crossed the area earlier in the week is hoped to be thecatalyst needed to get the areas the remainder of the planting moisture drylandproducers have been waiting for.

      Whilethe storm in no way alleviated all of the needs of producers, it certainlydidn’t hurt things. Now producers, both irrigated and dryland, can look towardthe Memorial Day weekend as s the next chance for more moisture.

      Forecastsonly call for 20 percent or less chances over the weekend, however, it is at leastsome potential and producers aren’t about to take any opportunity lightly.

      Plantingprogress took a definite turn for the better as dome dryland areas receivedenough to begin putting seed in the ground. Hopefully the balance that theyneed is only a few says away and the area can get the 2003 crop off to a good,although delayed, start.

      Timewill ultimately tell and the next two weeks will finally set the stage for thecoming year.

 

Strong Voter Turn-out Important For 19th CongressionalDistrict Run-off

Friday,May 23, 2003                               ByShawn Wade

      Voters of the 19thCongressional District are currently in the stretch-run of the race to decidewho will become the fourth Representative to represent the area.

      Last month 19th districtresidents narrowed the field of candidates from 18 to 2. Now voters will choosebetween them to select the person that will effectively be their new face andvoice in Washington, DC.

      Early voting is already underwayand the election date for the run-off race is set for June 3.

      Regardless of the outcome, it isimportant that the new representative arrive as the result of an involved andactive constituency. Voter turn-out for special elections are historically lowand a strong effort on the part of the residents of this area is important.

      The strongest message residents ofthe 19th District can send to Washington, DC regarding issuesimportant to this area, such as the recently passed Farm Bill, is a visible andactive participation in the process to select that representative. Good voterturn-out in the election will only strengthen the voice that they bring onbehalf of the people of the 19th District.