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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD), a leading Democratic advocate of free trade policies, released the following statement today in anticipation of tomorrow’s expected House vote on a free trade agreement with Bahrain:
“The House of Representatives tomorrow will consider a proposed free trade agreement between the United States and Bahrain. I support this agreement, and will vote in favor of the required implementing legislation. I also anticipate this agreement will enjoy strong bipartisan support in Congress.
“In general, I have advocated free trade and open markets because I believe that American businesses and workers can compete and win in the global economy. Furthermore, I believe that increasing global interdependence presents our nation with an opportunity to promote democratic reform, the rule of law and respect for basic human rights.
“The agreement provides that all bilateral trade in consumer and industrial products will become duty-free immediately, as will 98% of U.S. agricultural exports, with the remaining tariffs phased out over ten years. Textiles and apparel trade will also become duty free immediately for products that contain American or Bahraini yarn.
“Beyond the economic benefits that will accrue to the United States, this agreement is an important opportunity to bring increased development, prosperity and stability to a key ally and strategic partner in the region. Not only has Bahrain supported and participated in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, as well as the first Persian Gulf War in 1991, the country has also served as the host to U.S. Naval forces in the Middle East for more than 50 years. This free trade agreement will further strengthen the already close U.S.-Bahrain relationship.
“I have and will continue to support free trade agreements that strike the balance of expanding markets for American companies, while also providing a level playing field for American workers and improved living and working conditions for foreign workers by guaranteeing fair wages and basic workplace protections abroad. I am confident that these goals will be met with respect to Bahrain, in part thanks to a number of labor reforms that have been recently implemented by the government."