The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the
Senate will now resume consideration of H.J. Res. 51, which the clerk
The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:
A joint resolution (H.J. Res. 51) approving the extension
of nondiscriminatory treatment with respect to the products
of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, I just spoke to my colleague, the
distinguished Senator from New Hampshire, the only other Senator on the
floor, who is about to speak on the pending bill, and asked if I might
have just a few minutes. So I ask unanimous consent to proceed as in
morning business for 5 minutes.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so
(The remarks of Mr. Specter are printed in today's Record under
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from New Hampshire is
Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire. Mr. President, I rise to speak in
opposition to the pending bill regarding normal trade relations with
It is significant for us to look at what is occurring on the Senate
floor as compared to what happened on the House side. There are two
issues involved. One is the numerous human rights violations committed
by the country of Vietnam, and the second is the other issue--which is
the issue binding--of whether or not we should have so-called normal,
if you will, trade relations with the country of Vietnam.
I want to point out a few facts. Before I do that, I again point out
that before the House passed normalization of trade with Vietnam, it
passed H.R. 2833, dealing with human rights violations in Vietnam. I
have a copy of the vote, which I ask unanimous consent to have printed
in the Record.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in
the Record, as follows:
Roll 335--To Promote Freedom and Democracy in Vietnam
Davis, Jo Ann
Johnson, E. B.
Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire. Mr. President, this is a vote of 410-1,
which noted the human rights violations Vietnam has committed.
I ask my colleagues for the Record why we cannot have a similar vote
in the Senate. If those who want to normalize relations with Vietnam
choose to ignore the numerous human rights violations of that country,
is that right? Where we had something that passed the House 410-1 and
was sent over here, why can't we have a vote on that either before or
after the vote on normalization of trade relations? I will tell you
why. Because one Senator objects.
I want to point out to the majority side that at the appropriate time
when someone from the majority is here on the floor, I am going to ask
unanimous consent that we move to that legislation. I believe that is
the appropriate thing to do.
Let me proceed by saying I don't think it is a secret that I have
been a long-time critic of the regime in Hanoi. I have visited there
four or five times, if not more, as a Senator and as a Congressman. I
think I know pretty well the situation there. A lot of the criticism
that I brought up has focused pretty much on the POW-MIA issue in the
sense that in spite of all the statements to the contrary by many, they
have not provided full disclosure on our missing. I will get back to
First, I want to comment on the passage in the House of H.R. 2833,
the Vietnam Human Rights Act, before they took up normal trade
relations. The House is saying: We know what you are doing; we are
putting you on notice. We can't do that here in the Senate today
because one Senator is blocking, as far as I know, it coming to the
Senate floor--410-1, and we can't even get a vote on it in the Senate.
I commend the House for its action. They did the right thing. I don't
agree with their passing normal trade relations, but they at least
passed the human rights violation notification so that we now know and
the world now knows about these violations. We should expect Vietnam to
improve its record on human rights if we are trying to trade with them.
Why is that so unreasonable? We make these demands on other nations.
But when it comes to Vietnam, we have to ignore their horrible record
of open human rights violations. It is abysmal. Our own State
Department explains it in its ``Country Report on Human Rights
Practices.'' We can't ignore these things.
My question is, Why doesn't the Senate do what the House did and pass
the Vietnam Human Rights Act? It is here at the desk. We could pass it.
I have a letter from the U.S. Commission on International Religious
Freedom requesting that the Senate pass
H.R. 2833, the Vietnam Human Rights Act. I ask unanimous consent that
the letter from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the letter was ordered to be printed in the
Record, as follows:
United States Commission On
International Religious Freedom,
Washington, DC, September 12, 2001.
Congress Should Demand Religious-Freedom Improvements As It Considers
Vietnam Trade Agreement
The Senate will soon consider the Bilateral Trade Agreement
(BTA) with Vietnam, approved by the House of Representatives
last week. The agreement will extend Normal Trade Relations
status to Vietnam, although this will remain subject to
annual review. Given the very serious violations of religious
freedom in that country, the Commission in May made a series
of recommendations to the Bush Administration and Congress.
Primary among these was that U.S. lawmakers should ratify the
BTA only after Hanoi undertakes to improve protection of
religious freedom or after Congress passes a resolution
calling for the Vietnamese government to make such
The Vietnam Human Rights Act (H.R. 2833) passed by the
House last week implements this and other Commission
recommendations. Besides expressing U.S. concern about
Vietnam's religious-freedom and human rights abuses, the Act
authorizes assistance to organizations promoting human rights
in Vietnam and declares support for Radio Free Asia
broadcasting. The Commission urges the Senate to act
The Commission believes that approval of the BTA without
any U.S. action with regard to religious freedom risks
worsening the religious-freedom situation in Vietnam because
it may be interpreted by the government of Vietnam as a
signal of American indifference. The Commission notes that
religious freedom in the People's Republic of China declined
markedly after last year's approval of Permanent Normal Trade
Relations status, unaccompanied by any substantial U.S.
action with regard to religious freedom in that country.
Despite a marked increase in religious practice among the
Vietnamese people in the last 10 years, the Vietnamese
government continues to suppress organized religious
activities forcefully and to monitor and control religious
communities. This repression is mirrored by the recent
crackdown on important political dissidents. The government
prohibits religious activity by those not affiliated with one
of the six officially recognized religious organizations.
Individuals have been detained, fined, imprisoned, and kept
under close surveillance by security forces for engaging in
``illegal'' religious activities. In addition, the government
uses the recognition process to monitor and control
officially sanctioned religious groups: restricting the
procurement and distribution of religious literature,
controlling religious training, and interfering with the
selection of religious leaders.
The Vietnamese government in March placed Fr. Thaddeus
Nguyen Van Ly under administrative detention (i.e. house
arrest) for ``publicly slandering'' the Vietnamese Communist
Party and ``distorting'' the government's policy on religion.
This occurred after Fr. Ly submitted written testimony on
religious persecution in Vietnam for the Commission's
February 2001 hearing on that country.
In order to demonstrate significant improvement in
religious freedom, the Vietnamese government should:
Release from imprisonment, detention, house arrest, or
intimidating surveillance persons who are so restricted due
to their religious identities or activities.
Permit unhindered access to religious leaders by U.S.
diplomatic personnel and government officials, the U.S.
Commission on International Religious Freedom, and respected
international human rights organizations, including, if
requested, a return visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on
Establish the freedom to engage in religious activities
(including the freedom for religious groups to govern
themselves and select their leaders, worship publicly,
express and advocate religious beliefs, and distribute
religious literature) outside state-controlled religious
organizations and eliminate controls on the activities of
officially registered organizations. Allow indigenous
religious communities to conduct educational, charitable, and
Permit religious groups to gather for annual observances of
primary religious holidays.
Return confiscated religious properties.
Permit domestic Vietnamese religious organizations and
individuals to interact with foreign organizations and
Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire. Mr. President, I quote from this letter.
Congress Should Demand Religious-freedom Improvements As It
Considers Vietnam Trade Agreement.
The Senate will soon consider the Bilateral Trade Agreement
with Vietnam approved by the House of Representatives last
Given the very serious violations of religious freedom in
that country, the Commission in May made a series of
recommendations to the Bush administration and Congress.
Primary among these was that U.S. lawmakers should ratify the
BTA only after Hanoi undertakes to improve protection of
religious freedom or after the Congress passes a resolution
calling for the Vietnamese government to make such
You have the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
asking us to do this. The House did it, and we are not doing it.
The Vietnam Human Rights Act which passed the House last week
implements this and other Commission recommendations. The Commission
urges the Senate to do likewise. However, we cannot do that because of
the fact that someone is holding it up. That, to me, is unfortunate.
I am going to propose a unanimous consent request. At that time, I
know the majority will object, but I want to propose it. I want to also
say that I may ask for this a number of times.
I believe the individual Senator or Senators who oppose having a vote
on human rights should come down and defend themselves. I would like to
hear why it is we can't pass something that passed the House 410-1.
I know my colleague from Montana has a hearing to go to. I am more
than happy to yield to the Senator from Montana in just a second so
that he can go off to his hearing, providing I can reclaim the floor
after the Senator from Montana speaks.
I ask unanimous consent that following the vote on H.J. Res. 51,
extension of nondiscrimination with respect to products of the
Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Senate immediately proceed to a vote
on final passage of H.R. 2833, the Vietnam Human Rights Act.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there objection?
The Senator from Montana.
Mr. BAUCUS. I object.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Objection is heard.
Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent
that I yield to Senator Baucus and that I can regain the floor after
Senator Baucus completes his remarks.
Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, may I ask the Senator a question? I
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Will the Senator from New Hampshire
yield for a question?
Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire. Certainly.
Mr. BAUCUS. I think it is only proper that the Senator from New
Hampshire regain the floor. I would just like his counsel, if he again
asks unanimous consent whether he will refrain from doing so until
somebody is on the floor to object.
Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire. Absolutely.
Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, I do not object.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so
The Senator from Montana.
Mr. BAUCUS. I thank my friend from New Hampshire. I deeply value his
friendship. We have worked very closely together in lots of matters,
particularly on the Environment and Public Works Committee. He is a man
of tremendous integrity and is a very good Senator. I deeply appreciate
his efforts in the Senate.
Mr. President, I rise in support of the House Joint Resolution 51,
which would approve the trade agreement between the United States and
Vietnam. This agreement was signed last year, and it would extend
normal trade relations status to Vietnam.
It is identical to Senate Joint Resolution 16. That was approved
unanimously by the Finance Committee in July of this year.
Our trade agreement with Vietnam represents an important step in a
healing process, a step that has been a long time in coming.
Let me just review the history a bit.
After two decades of relative isolation from one another, our two
countries began the process of normalizing ties and of healing in the
In 1994, we lifted our embargo with Vietnam.
Then, in 1995, we normalized diplomatic relations, sending Pete
Peterson to be our first Ambassador to Vietnam since the war. A true
hero, Pete Peterson did a tremendous job, working with the Vietnamese
to help locate missing American personnel, and to help facilitate the
orderly departure from Vietnam of refugees and other immigrants.
In 1998, President Clinton waived the Jackson-Vanik prohibitions.
This enabled Vietnam to obtain access to financial credit and guarantee
programs sponsored by the U.S. Government.
Meanwhile, the Vietnamese Government has done its part. By all
accounts, the Government has cooperated in efforts to fully account for
missing American personnel. As former Ambassador Peterson reported in
June 2000--I am quoting his report now--
Since 1993,  joint field activities have been conducted
in Vietnam, 288 possible American remains have been
repatriated, and the remains of 135 formerly unaccounted-for
American servicemen have been identified, including 26 since
Continuing to quote Ambassador Peterson:
This would not have been possible without bilateral
cooperation between the U.S. and Vietnam. Of the 196
Americans that were on the Last Known Alive list, fate has
been determined for all but 41. . . .
Moreover, with respect to freedom of emigration--the underlying
purpose of the Jackson-Vanik provisions--the President recently
Overall, Vietnam's emigration policy has liberalized
considerably in the last decade and a half. Vietnam has a
solid record of cooperation with the United States to permit
Over 500,000 Vietnamese have emigrated as refugees or
immigrants to the United States . . . and only a small number
of refugee applicants remain to be processed.
In light of this substantial progress in our relationship with
Vietnam, the next logical step is to begin normalizing our commercial
ties. The trade agreement concluded last year will do that.
That said, I and most of my colleagues have serious concerns about
Vietnam's human rights record. It is not good. The State Department's
most recent report describes the record as ``poor.'' It notes that
``although there was some measurable improvement in a few areas,
serious problems remain.'' These include: arbitrary arrests and
detentions, denials of fair and speedy trials to criminal defendants,
significant restrictions on freedom of speech and the press, severe
limitations on freedom of religion, denial of worker rights, and
discrimination against ethnic minorities.
Making improvements in these and other areas ought to be a top
priority of the United States in our relationship with Vietnam. But
establishing a normal commercial relationship with Vietnam does not
hinder that goal. Indeed, it complements our human rights efforts.
As our experience in countries such as China demonstrates, engagement
works. Engagement without illusions works. By interacting with
countries commercially, we bring them into closer contact with our
democratic values. We generate demand for those values.
This does not mean that we can simply let trade begin to flow with
Vietnam and then sit back and watch; rather, we have to engage Vietnam
and work actively with them to improve human rights in that country.
This process has already begun; and it needs to continue.
Our efforts include an annual high-level dialog with Vietnam on human
rights. That exercise has had some success. While much work remains to
be done, former Ambassador Peterson reported toward the end of his 6-
year tenure that the Vietnamese Government has grown increasingly
tolerant of public dissent.
The Government has also released key religious and political
prisoners and loosened restrictions on religious practices.
Additionally, Vietnam recently allowed the International Labor
Organization to open an office in Hanoi. Supported by the U.S.
Department of Labor, the ILO is providing technical assistance in areas
ranging from social safety nets, to workplace safety, to collective
Further, it is likely that in the near future we will negotiate a
textiles agreement with Vietnam, as we did 2 years ago with Cambodia.
Such an agreement would set quotas on imports of Vietnamese textile
and apparel products into the United States. As we did with Cambodia,
we should tie quota increases under such an agreement to improvements
in worker rights.
Much work remains to be done to improve human rights in Vietnam, but
engagement has gotten us off to a good start. And that is important. It
is important to get off to a good start, get things moving in the right
Moreover, it is important to remember that by approving the trade
agreement with Vietnam, we are not giving it so-called PNTR; that is,
permanent normal trade relations. We are not doing that. We are not
doing for Vietnam what we did for China last year, in preparation for
China's accession into the World Trade Organization.
The step we are taking with Vietnam is much more modest. Vietnam
currently has a disfavored trade status, one in which exports to the
United States are subject to prohibitive tariffs. This agreement moves
Vietnam to a normal but probationary trade status.
Under the Jackson-Vanik provisions of the Trade Act, the President
and Congress will still conduct annual reviews of Vietnam's trade
status. These reviews will be an additional source of leverage in
seeking improvement of human rights in Vietnam.
I would like to turn now to the substance of the agreement and the
benefits that we will gain from it.
At its core, the agreement will enable us to decrease tariffs on
Vietnamese imports to tariff levels applied to imports from most other
countries. Vietnam, in return, will apply to U.S. goods the same tariff
rates it applies to other countries.
But this agreement goes well beyond a reciprocal lowering of tariffs.
It requires Vietnam, among other things, to lower tariffs on over 250
categories of goods; to phase in import, export, and distribution
rights for U.S.-owned companies; to adhere to intellectual property
rights standards which, in some cases, exceed WTO standards; and to
liberalize opportunities for U.S. companies to operate in key service
sectors, including banking, insurance, and telecommunications.
This agreement should provide a sound foundation for a mutually
beneficial commercial relationship. It will build upon the increasingly
stronger ties between the United States and Vietnam.
Indeed, I hope the efforts Vietnam makes to implement the agreement
will put it well along the way to eventual membership in the WTO.
Make no mistake, there still will be a lot of work to be done, even
after the agreement is approved. We will have to work with Vietnam to
ensure that its obligations on paper translate into actual practice. We
will also have to monitor operation of the agreement very carefully.
But I am confident that this agreement does get us off to a very good
start. That is critical.
I am pleased to support the resolution extending normal trade
relations status to Vietnam.
I yield the floor.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from New Hampshire.
Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire. Mr. President, my colleague from Montana
mentioned human rights violations. Yet in spite of the fact that the
House voted 410-1 to cite those violations, we cannot have a similar
vote in the Senate today, either before or after voting on normal trade
relations with Vietnam. That is my issue and my concern, and it is why
I did request unanimous consent to proceed to that bill.
For the life of me, I don't know why we choose to ignore these
violations. Everyone knows where the votes are on normal trade
relations. I know my view does not carry in this Chamber. But I don't
understand why we can't at least vote on the human rights violations.
We should not approve the U.S.-Vietnam trade agreement without at
least addressing these human rights violations in Vietnam. I don't
understand why we can't address them. What is the fear? That somehow we
are going to antagonize the Vietnamese? I am going to be giving you
some information very shortly that makes one wonder why we would not
want to antagonize the Vietnamese. We will talk about that.
Let me first ask, what does this human rights act do that we are not
allowed to pass it in the Senate because somebody is holding it up with
a secret hold? Well, it prevents the United States from providing
nonhumanitarian assistance to the Government of Vietnam above 2001
levels unless the President certifies that the Government of Vietnam
has made substantial
progress toward releasing political and religious prisoners it holds;
secondly, that the Government of Vietnam has made substantial progress
toward respecting the right to freedom of religion, which it does not;
thirdly, that the Government of Vietnam has made substantial progress
toward respecting human rights, which it does not do; and the
Government of Vietnam is not involved in trafficking persons. They do
We are going to ignore all that. We are going to ignore that, and we
can't possibly have a vote today to cite the Vietnamese for those human
rights violations because somehow we are going to offend them.
We don't take that position against other nations that have human
rights violations. The President has the ultimate waiver authority
under this legislation. If the continuation of assistance is deemed in
the national interest, if he thinks it is in the national interest, he
can waive these issues. He can waive the certification process, if he
believes it is necessary. It is no big deal. There is no harm done if
the Senate would pass this resolution.
This resolution authorizes appropriations of up to $2 million to
NGOs, nongovernment organizations, that promote human rights and
nonviolent democratic change. It states: It is the policy of the U.S.
Government to overcome the jamming of Radio Free Asia by the
Vietnamese. It authorizes $10 million over 2 years for that effort. It
helps Vietnamese refugees settle in the United States, especially those
who were prevented from doing so by actions of the Vietnamese, such as
bribes and government interference. Yes, that goes on, too. We are
going to ignore it, but it does go on.
It requires an annual report to Congress on the above-mentioned
issues. As you can see, this is a very reasonable piece of legislation.
It doesn't tie the hands of the President. It only involves
nonhumanitarian aid. It only concerns increases in nonhumanitarian aid
above the 2001 levels.
My personal belief is we should not approve normal trade relations
with Vietnam. I know where the votes are. I know this legislation will
I am particularly disgusted by a press report which contained an
excerpt from the Vietnamese People's Army Daily commenting on the
recent terrorist attacks. I want my colleagues to hear what the
official organ of the Vietnamese Army thinks. And remember, they will
profit handsomely from this trade agreement with the United States.
As I display the quote, I want to put everything in perspective. We
had a terrorist attack, the worst ever in the history of America. This
is what the Vietnamese official People's Army Daily said about it. In
spite of that, we are not even allowed in the Senate to pass a
resolution criticizing them for their human rights violations before we
give them normal trade status.
I heard the President of the United States very clearly state and
articulate over and over again, you are either with us or you are
against us. It is not gray. It is either black or white. You are on our
side in the fight against terrorism or you are not. Let's read what
. . . it's obvious that through this incident, Americans
should take another look at themselves. If Americans had not
pursued isolationism and chauvinism, and if they had not
insisted on imposing their values on others in their own
subjective manner, then perhaps the twin towers would still
be standing together in the singing waves and breeze of the
That is what they said. But we are going to ignore all that. This is
Vietnam. We now have to normalize trade relations with them, but we
can't even criticize them on their human rights violations. I will
withdraw any recorded vote on normal trade relations if we will just
bring up by unanimous consent and vote on the human rights violations
that the House passed 410-1.
Of what are we afraid? Why are we afraid of offending? Do my
colleagues like that comment? How do they like that? How do they think
the 6,000 families feel about that comment? That is what they said.
If we think that is bad, while it is up there, let me give a few more
comments. This was 2 days after the incident:
A visit to the city's institutes of higher learning on
Thursday revealed an alarming level of excitement and
happiness over the recent devastating terrorist attacks in
the United States.
This was in the international news section of the Deutsche Presse.
Here is what one person said on the streets of Hanoi:
``Many people here consider this act of terrorism an act of
heroism, because they dared confront the almighty United
States,'' said one post-graduate student at Hanoi
Construction University. Another student, 22-year-old class
monitor Dang Quang Bao, said terrorism as a means is not
``But this helped the U.S. open its eyes, because it has
blindly imposed its power on the world through embargoes and
intervening in the internal affairs of other nations.
``When people heard about the attack in America,'' he
added, ``many said it was legitimate.''
Privately, thousands if not millions of Vietnamese admire
the U.S. for its economic power, military supremacy. . . .
But Communist-ruled Vietnam, like many Third World nations,
maintains a testy relationship with the United States.
``If Bush had died, I would be happier, because he's so
warlike,'' said Tran Huy Hanh, a student at the Construction
University who heads his class's chapter of the youth union.
``America deserves this, because of all the suffering it
has caused humankind,'' said one freshman at National
``But they should have attacked the headquarters of the
CIA, because the CIA serves America's political plots,'' he
This Senate won't even give us a chance to vote to condemn their
human rights violations. We are not even asking you to condemn this.
All we are asking you to do is condemn the human rights violations they
are committing. What are we doing? What are we saying to the American
It is unbelievable. I am stunned.
In the cafes and barber shops--not to mention the classrooms in
Hanoi--people expressed broad consensus that the U.S. reaped what it
has sown. Listen to this one: ``I feel sorry for the terrorists who
were very brave because they risked their lives,'' said a motorbike
guard, who did not wish to be named, in Hanoi. ``I am happy,'' gloated
a 70-year-old Hanoian who said he was an army officer in wars against
the French and Americans. ``You see, America always boasts about its
power, but what has happened proves America is not invincible.''
``The United States is king of the jungle,'' said 25-year-old Phan
Huy Son. ``When the king is attacked, the other animals are happy.''
This is what we got from Hanoi. Somebody will come down here and they
will read the official little cable that came in. That is what it said
``officially.'' But this is what the People's Army Daily said on
September 13. It is outrageous in and of itself that they said it. But
let me tell you something. We are further compounding the outrage by
standing on the Senate floor and voting to normalize trade relations
with them. That is bad enough. But even worse, we don't have the guts
to bring up on the Senate floor and pass something that was supported
410-1. Don't tell me one Senator has a hold. I know one Senator has a
hold on it. Let's go to that Senator and say take the hold off and let
us vote on it, whatever the vote is.
``The towers would still be standing together in the singing waves
and breeze of the Atlantic'' were it not for us imposing values on
others. Does that sound like somebody who is for us? It sounds like
somebody who is against us to me. It is an insult, an outrage. I didn't
even hear Saddam Hussein say that. It is an outrage that that was said.
It is a further outrage that we are compounding by refusing to even
consider the human rights violations. I understand a resolution
approving normal trade relations is going to pass. I know it will pass.
But why can't we have a vote? Why can't we have a vote right now after
this debate on the human rights act?
Mr. President, after showing this material and talking about it, I am
going to again, since there is representation of the majority side on
the floor, ask unanimous consent that following the vote on H.J. Res.
51, the extension of nondiscriminatory treatment with respect to the
products of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Senate immediately
proceed to and vote on final passage of H.R. 2833, the Vietnam Human
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there objection?
Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, will the Senator yield for a question
before I object?
Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire. Certainly.
Mr. BAUCUS. Has this resolution been referred to the Foreign
Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire. The resolution passed the House 410-1. I
don't know if it has been referred to the committee. I assume so.
Mr. BAUCUS. It has not. Mr. President, I object.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.
Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire. If it needs to be referred to the Foreign
Relations Committee, it should be, and the Foreign Relations Committee
should act post haste and get it up to the Senate floor before we
consider the action we are now taking.
That is my point. We should not give free trade to a Communist regime
that ignores basic human rights and insults us--``insult'' isn't even
strong enough--by saying something like that, having those comments
made on the streets of Hanoi and proudly printing it in their
propaganda rags. We stand here on the Senate floor and refuse to even
talk about it. That is outrageous.
It is my understanding that the bill has been held at the desk after
the House sent it over, to get it straight on the record.
I know my colleague from Iowa wishes to make some remarks, and I will
be happy to yield the floor.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Iowa, Mr.
Grassley, is recognized.
Mr. GRASSLEY. I thank the Senator from New Hampshire for his kind
yielding of the floor because I have to go to a hearing at 11 o'clock
before the Senate Finance Committee when we are going to talk about a
stimulus package. So I thank the Senator.
I support the joint resolution approving the U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral
Trade Agreement. I commend Chairman Baucus for his leadership in
helping to bring this historic agreement before the Senate today. I
also think we ought to take time to thank Senators McCain and Kerry for
their strong support of the agreement. These two Senators just named
are people who have been, for a long time, active in trying to work out
trade relations between the United States and Vietnam. Many times
before now, I have opposed them in those efforts. Many times in the
past, I have supported the Senator from New Hampshire in some of his
efforts. I served with him for a long period of time on the Select
Committee on POW/MIAs during the beginning of the last decade to work
The reason I am for this trade agreement, as opposed to positions I
have taken in the past, is because I think that trade--for business men
and women--between the United States and another country can probably
do more to promote human rights, market economic principles, and
political freedom and political democracy, much more than we can as
political leaders or diplomats working between two countries. I see a
very beneficial impact over the long haul--not maybe the short haul--to
changing a lot of things in Vietnam. The Senator from New Hampshire has
raised issues about it, and legitimately so.
It is a fact that our Nation's healing process over Vietnam is not
yet complete, nor may it ever be. But passage of this historic
agreement, I believe, will aid us in the healing process. Approving the
agreement will have other profound consequences for both nations and
benefit to our Nation as well because I look at international trade as
not benefiting the country that we are having the agreement with but
benefiting the United States. If it doesn't benefit us, there is no
point in our doing it.
When you look at the purpose of our trade arrangements, they are
obviously to help our consumers; but more importantly, they are to
enhance entrepreneurship within our country, expand our economy, and in
the process, create jobs. If we don't create jobs, there is no point in
our having the sort of trade arrangements that we have. We do create
jobs when we have enhanced international trade. A lot of statistics
show thousands and thousands of jobs are created with trade, and not
only are jobs created, but jobs that pay 15 percent above the national
First, as far as this agreement is concerned, having consequences
that are good, approval of the resolution will further strengthen our
relations with Vietnam, a process that began under President George
Bush in the early 1990s. President Clinton, putting our national
interests first, diligently pursued the same policy started by the
President George W. Bush took another historic step on the road to
better and more prosperous relations by sending this Vietnam bilateral
trade agreement to Congress for approval on July 8 of this year.
Second, approval of this resolution will enable workers and farmers
to take advantage of a sweeping bilateral trade agreement with Vietnam.
This agreement covers virtually every aspect of trade with Vietnam,
from trade in services to intellectual property rights and investment.
The agreement includes specific commitments by Vietnam to reduce
tariffs on approximately 250 products, about four-fifths of which are
agricultural goods, and U.S. investors, in addition, will have specific
legal protections unavailable to those same investors today.
Government procurement will become more open and transparent. Vietnam
will be required to adhere to a number of multilateral disciplines on
customs procedures, import licensing and sanitary and phytosanitary
measures, which are so important to making sure that we do not have
nontariff trade barriers in agricultural products.
There is no doubt that implementation of the United States-Vietnam
bilateral trade agreement will open new markets for U.S. manufactured
goods, services, and our farm products.
It is a win for American workers, but it is also going to benefit the
Continued engagement through open trade will help the country
prosper. Adherence to the rule of law, or rule-based trading systems,
will also further establish the rule of law in Vietnam. It is truly a
win-win for both nations.
Finally, it is my sincere hope that passage of this joint resolution
will help pave the way for even greater trade accomplishments yet this
year. One of the most important things we can do for our Nation before
we adjourn is to pass what is now called trade promotion authority
which gives the President of the United States authority to negotiate
in the manner that we have negotiated down trade barriers and tariffs
since 1947, originally under the General Agreements on Tariffs and
Trades and now under the World Trade Organization regime.
Our President must have all the tools we can offer, particularly at
this time of economic uncertainty which happened as a result of the
terrorist attacks on September 11. In my mind, there would be no more
important tool at this time of economic uncertainty than trade
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told the Finance Committee
the other day that terror causes people to pull back; in other words,
to lose confidence, to not do normal economic activity, the normal
spending and investment. That is what September 11 was all about. We
see it in our economy today.
According to Chairman Greenspan, trade promotion authority is a vital
tool encountering the tendency of people and nations to pull back and
then lower their confidence in their own economy which affects the
world economy collectively.
Most important, Alan Greenspan told us that Congress giving the
President trade promotion authority will say to terrorists: You will
not stop the global economic cooperation that has brought so much good
and prosperity to the world just because of terrorist attacks that we
have had in this country.
I think Chairman Greenspan has it absolutely right. Passing trade
promotion authority will enable the President to help jump-start the
world economy through trade. Passing trade promotion authority and
launching a new round of WTO trade negotiations this November at the
ministerial meeting in Qatar is a vital step toward economic recovery
and restoring the long-term economic growth that benefits workers and
As I conclude this comment on the Vietnam bilateral trade agreement,
let me say, as important as it is, and that is an important step toward
finishing our trade agenda, so is the trade promotion authority for the
The Vietnam agreement then is just one step. Our trade agenda is not
done. Let's do the right thing for the President and for the American
people and follow Chairman Greenspan's advice. Let's work together to
finish our trade agenda and pass trade promotion authority this year.
I yield the floor.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Arkansas.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Mr. President, I rise to speak in opposition to the
resolution before us. First I commend the Senator from Iowa for his
leadership on trade issues, his leadership on economic issues, and I
certainly associate myself with his remarks regarding trade promotion
authority and the need for the President to have that authority.
I also commend the Senator from New Hampshire for his remarks
regarding the human rights situation in Vietnam. I agree. We should
have the opportunity to vote on a resolution condemning the human
rights record in Vietnam. It would only be appropriate to follow the
precedent of the House in, while passing normal trade relations with
Vietnam, also passing by an overwhelming margin a resolution condemning
the human rights record.
The Senator from Iowa mentioned that trade benefits us. It should
benefit us, and that should be the standard by which we engage these
kinds of agreements. I ask the question: Will this agreement really do
He also mentions the fact that it should create jobs. Certainly
trade, if it is fair and free trade, will create jobs.
The American consumer today is being purposefully confused, and our
domestic farm-raised catfish industries are on the brink of bankruptcy
in this country primarily due in large part to the massive exports from
Vietnam of a product called basa fish. If this were any other product--
if it were steel, for instance--it would be called dumping.
We have seen an incredible increase in the exports of basa fish to
the United States and having it labeled within our country as being
catfish. That blatant mislabeling is causing confusion among the
American people and is absolutely destroying our domestic catfish
The States of Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana produce
95 percent of the Nation's catfish. These catfish are grain-fed and
farm-raised catfish produced under strict health and environmental
regulations. Today, with the passage of this resolution, we are helping
Vietnam while we are doing absolutely nothing to help United States
aquaculture, United States catfish farmers who are on the brink of
Arkansas ranks second in the amount of catfish produced nationally,
but it is an industry that has grown and thrived in one of the poorest
areas of our country, the Mississippi Delta, an area that has sometimes
been referred to as the Appalachia of the nineties. It is an area that
faces incredible economic challenges. Despite the strong work ethic,
despite the strong spirit of the delta region, economic opportunities
have been few and far between.
I ask my colleagues who are thinking about improving the economy of
Vietnam, let's first think about what, with our current trade practice,
we are doing to the aquaculture industry in the United States which has
been one of the few shining success stories in this deprived, poor
region of our Nation.
At a time when fears of unemployment and the realities of an economic
downturn in the wake of the September 11 attacks are weighing heavily
on the minds of the American people, it is not acceptable--it should
not be acceptable--to sit back and watch an important industry that
employs thousands of Americans, thousands of my constituents in the
State of Arkansas, and see their industry crushed by inferior imports
because of a glitch in our regulatory system.
Vietnamese basa is being confused by the American public as catfish
due to labeling that allows them to be called basa catfish. These
Vietnamese basa are being imported at record levels. Let me explain.
In June of this year, 648,000 pounds were imported into the United
States. For the past 7 months, imports have averaged 382,000 pounds per
month. To put that in perspective, in all of 1997, there were only
500,000 pounds of Vietnamese basa imported. We are almost doing that
every month now. It is predicted that nearly 20 million pounds could be
imported this year. That is an incredible 4,000-percent increase in 4
I want my colleagues to think about an industry in their State that
could survive--could it survive?--imports that had increased at the
level of 4,000 percent in a 4-year period of time under mislabeling,
The Vietnamese penetration into this market in the last year alone
has more than tripled. Market penetration has risen from 7 percent to
23 percent of the total market. Four years ago, the Vietnamese basa,
wrongly labeled ``catfish,'' comprised less than 10 percent--to be
exact, 7 percent--of the catfish market in the United States. Today it
is almost one-quarter of the catfish market in the United States.
They have been able to achieve such remarkable market penetration by
using the label of ``catfish'' on the packaging while selling this
different species of fish for $1.25 a pound cheaper. It is a different
species and is $1.25 a pound cheaper. It is being sold as what is
produced in the United States, true channel catfish.
For those who argue this is the result of a competitive market, I
offer a few facts. When the fish were labeled and marketed as
Vietnamese basa or just plain basa, sales in this country were almost
nonexistent. Some importers even tried to label basa as white grouper,
believing that was going to lead to greater sales. Still no success.
However, by adding the name ``catfish'' to the label, these fish have
seen sales skyrocket. Although the Food and Drug Administration issued
an order on September 19 stating the correct labeling of Vietnamese
basa be a high priority, the FDA is allowing these fish to retain the
label of ``catfish'' in the title. I do not know whether it is by
budget constraints or whether it is a lack of personnel at the FDA, but
it is obvious that inspections have been lacking in the past and the
inclusion of the term of ``catfish'' in the title serves to promote
This illustration shows how Vietnamese companies and rogue U.S.
importers are trying to confuse the American people. Names such as
``cajun delight,'' ``delta fresh,'' and ``farm select'' lead consumers
to believe the product is something that it is not.
In fact, the brand ``delta fresh'' is one of the most misleading
because it implies in the very title ``delta fresh catfish'' that it is
being grown in the delta of the Mississippi, in Arkansas and
The reality is, it is fish from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, which
has unhealthy, environmentally unsafe conditions, being sold to the
American consumer as channel-grown, farm-grown catfish.
The total impact of the catfish industry on the U.S. economy is
estimated to exceed $4 billion annually. Approximately 12,000 people
are employed by this industry. I have been told by the catfish
association that as many as 25 percent of the catfish farmers in
Arkansas will be forced out of business if this problem is not
Now let me remind my colleagues, this is the poorest region of the
United States. It is poorer than what the Appalachian region was when
we went in with massive national support. Yet this region, which has
had very few bright spots in its economy in the last decade, has seen
aquaculture as perhaps being the salvation of the economy in the delta
of Arkansas. Twenty-five percent of these catfish farmers could be gone
in the next year if we do not correct this problem.
Catfish farmers in this country have invested millions of dollars
educating the American public about the nutritional attributes of
catfish. Through their efforts, American consumers have an expectation
of what a catfish is and how it is raised. They have an expectation
that what they purchase is indeed a catfish and that it has been raised
and farmed in a clean and environmentally safe environment.
All of the investment that the American catfish industry has made in
order to educate the American people is being kidnapped by Vietnamese
basa growers and rogue importers who are bringing this product in and
pretending that it is that same product, and it is not.
This next poster shows an official list of both scientific names and
market common names from the Food and Drug Administration. Almost all
of these fish can contain the word ``catfish'' in their names under
current FDA rules. We can see all of the very scientific names, and yet
all of these various scientific names are allowed to use ``catfish'' in
their market or common names creating incredible confusion among the
consuming public, understandably.
Most people look, they see the word ``catfish,'' and they do not pay
any attention to the rest of that package labeling. When the average
Arkansan hears the word ``catfish,'' the idea of a typical channel
catfish is what comes to mind. When they sit down at a restaurant and
order a plate of fried catfish, that same channel catfish is what they
expect to be eating.
The channel catfish, as we can see, there is a whole list of other
varieties that are now being allowed to usurp that name.
One cannot blame the restaurateur who is offered ``catfish for a
dollar less a pound'' for buying it. It is basa. It is not catfish.
However, in many cases they do not realize that what they are really
buying is not American-grown channel catfish but Vietnamese basa, that
it is not subject to health and safety standards, not grown in clean
ponds, not fed as American catfish are fed.
The third poster shows the relationship between these fish, and you
will notice they are in different families and--only in the same order
but totally separate families. The FDA claims since the fish are the
same order, they can have the word ``catfish'' in their market or
common name, even though they are not in the same family, they are not
in the same genus, and they are not in the same species. By this
standard, cats and cattle could be labeled the same.
In addition, it is important to note the conditions in which these
fish are raised. U.S. catfish producers raise catfish in pristine ponds
that are closely monitored. These ponds are carefully aerated and the
fish are fed granulated pellets consisting of grains composed of
soybean, corn, and cotton seed, all in strict compliance with Federal,
State, and local health and safety laws.
What we are asking those catfish growers to compete with is
Vietnamese basa which now composes almost a quarter of the domestic
market. These other species, basa, are raised in cages in the Mekong
Delta, one of the most polluted watersheds in the world. It has been
reported that these fish are exposed to many unhealthy elements,
including raw sewage.
I say to my colleagues, they would not allow the United States Food
and Drug Administration to permit medicine to come in from such
unhealthy, environmentally unsafe conditions. Yet we are allowing the
American consuming public to eat basa labeled as catfish, grown in
unhealthy environments, and not know the reality of what they are
It is obvious the use of the label ``catfish'' is being used to
mislead consumers and is unfairly harming our domestic industry. I
think it is odd we continue to look for new and more open trade
policies to provide other nations access to our markets when we
continually fail to enforce meaningful fairness provisions.
As we sit on the brink of allowing another trade bill to pass this
Congress, I want to reiterate a phrase that I have heard over and over:
Free trade only works if it is fair trade.
This is not fair. Our regulatory agencies must recognize their
responsibilities and act on them.
I realize this trade bill is not the answer to this problem. I
understand this is a labeling issue, a regulatory issue, but I could
not allow us to pass a trade bill that is going to benefit Vietnam at a
time that we are so lax in our regulatory environment we are allowing a
domestic industry to be gutted while we approve trade relations with a
country that is destroying this domestic industry.
I urge all of my colleagues to support me and the congressional
delegations of Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama as we move
forward in trying to resolve this pressing issue, be it through
regulatory changes or be it through legislative mandate. I thank my
colleagues for their willingness to allow me to make my case on this
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Nelson of Nebraska). The Senator from
Mr. REID. I ask unanimous consent that the time until 2 p.m. today be
equally divided as provided under the statute governing consideration
of H.J. Res. 51, and that at 2 p.m. today, the joint resolution be read
a third time and the Senate proceed to vote on passage of the joint
resolution, with rule 12, paragraph 4 being waived.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. REID. It is the intention of the majority leader, after the
vote--this is not in the form of a unanimous consent request but, in a
sense, an advisory one--as it was announced early today it is the
majority leader's intention to go to the airport security legislation
immediately after that vote.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I rise to support the resolution, but I
want to urge the Senate to take up the issue of airport security.
Senator Hollings, Senator McCain, and I have introduced legislation,
together with other colleagues, that we believe is absolutely critical
to the restoration of the confidence of the American people with
respect to flying.
I have been on any number of flights, as have my colleagues. We have
been flying since September 11 many times, many of us, but obviously
the American people remain uncertain and they want the highest level of
safety, not simply be told it is safe. The highest level of safety is
going to come when we have the highest standards that are enforceable,
fully enforceable, with the kind of professional training and
accountability that will do that. I hope this afternoon our colleagues
will recognize the importance of this.
I met this morning with a person from a travel agency who does most
of the reservations for the airlines. They went from selling 20,000
tickets a day to 2 in one day. Now they are back up around 10,000 or
so, but 50 percent in a business with a margin of 1 percent is not
sufficient. We clearly need to do everything possible in order to
restore the confidence, and not just the confidence, but provide a
level of security that Americans have a right to expect--not just
tomorrow, not just for a few months, not as a matter of confidence-
building in the aftermath of what happened, but for all of time out in
the future. We can do that, and we need to do it rapidly.
I listened carefully to the Senator from Arkansas, and indeed he
negated his entire argument at the end by saying: I recognize this is
regulatory. In point of fact, what he is complaining about has nothing
to do with the resolution we are passing today because all you have to
do is label the fish differently. You can put ``Arkansas grown,'' you
can put ``American grown,'' you can label any other kind of fish any
way you want. If people are concerned about it, then, by gosh, they
ought to turn to the FDA.
This trade agreement with Vietnam benefits both countries. Vietnam
gets lower tariffs on its goods entering the United States, but
Vietnamese tariffs on American goods will also be reduced. That will be
a boon to the American exporter.
This agreement is another major step in the process of normalizing
relations with Vietnam--a long, painstaking process which began with
President Reagan, moved to President Bush, was continued by President
Clinton, and now this administration supports it. This is an agreement
the administration supports and with which they believe we should move
None of us diminishes the importance of human rights, the importance
of change in a country that remains authoritarian in its government. We
object to that. I have said that many times. My hope in the long haul
will be that we will celebrate one day the full measure of democracy in
Vietnam through the rest of Asia. The question is, How do you get
there? What is the best way to promote change? What is the best way to
try to succeed in moving down a road of measured cooperation that
allows people to accomplish a whole series of goals that are important
to us as a country?
I know Senator McCain and Senator Hagel join me. As former combat
servicemen in Vietnam, both very strongly believe that this particular
approach of engaging Vietnam is the way in which we will best continue
the process of change that we have witnessed already significantly in
the country of Vietnam. We believe this trade agreement is another
major step in the process of normalizing those relations and in moving
forward in a way that benefits the United States as we do it.
This is the most sweeping and detailed agreement the United States
has ever negotiated with a so-called Jackson-Vanik country. It focuses
on four core areas: Trade in goods, intellectual property rights, trade
in services, and investment. But it also includes important chapters on
business facilitation and transparency. It is a win-win for the United
States and for Vietnam in the way in which it will engage Vietnam and
bring it further along the road to transparency, accountability, the
adoption of business practices that are globally accepted and
ultimately the changes that come through the natural process of that
kind of engagement, to a recognition of a different kind of value
system and practice.
The Government of Vietnam has agreed to undertake a wide range of
steps to open its markets to foreign trade and investment, including
decreasing tariffs on key American goods; eliminating non-tariff and
tariff barriers on the import of agricultural and industrial goods;
reducing barriers and opening its markets to United States services,
particularly in the key sectors of banking and distribution, insurance
and telecommunications; protecting intellectual property rights
pursuant to international standards; increasing market access for
American investments and eliminating investment-distorting policies;
and adopting measures to promote commercial transparency.
These commitments, some of which are phased in over a reasonable
schedule of time in the next few years, will improve the climate for
American investors and, most importantly, give American farmers,
manufacturers, producers of software, music, and movies, and American
service providers access to Vietnam's growing market.
Vietnam is a marketplace of 80 million people. Only 5 percent of the
population of Vietnam is over the age of 65; 40 percent, maybe more, of
the population of Vietnam is under the age of 30. If 40 percent of the
country is under the age of 30, that means they were born at the end of
the war and since the war, and their knowledge is of a very different
world. It is important to remember that and to continue to bring
Vietnam into the world community and into a different set of practices.
For Vietnam, this agreement provides access to the largest market in
the world on normal trade relations status (NTR) at a time when
economic growth in this country has slowed. Equally important, it
signals that the United States is committed to expanded economic ties
and further normalization of the bilateral relationship.
This agreement was signed over 1 year ago. The Bush Administration
sent it to Congress June 8. The House of Representatives approved it by
a voice vote on September 6--an indication of the strong bipartisan
support that exists for it. We can now complete a major step in moving
forward by approving it in the Senate.
In closing, on the subject of human rights, I believe we are making
progress. Many of the American nongovernmental organizations working in
Vietnam and even some of our veterans groups--Vietnam Veterans of
America and the VFW--support the notion that we should continue to move
down the road in the way we have been with respect to the relationship
and our related efforts to promote human rights. We need to maintain
accountability. We should never turn our backs on American values. But
there are different tools. Sometimes the tools can be overly blunt and
counterproductive, and sometimes the tools achieve their goals in ways
that advance the interests of all parties concerned.
In my judgment, passing this trade agreement separately on its own,
is the way to continue to advance the interests of the United States
both in terms of human rights, as well as our larger economic interests
simultaneously. I urge my colleagues to adopt this resolution of
Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I will ask unanimous consent to speak in
morning business when the Senator from Massachusetts concludes his
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I yield the floor and reserve the remainder
of our time.
Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to speak for up to
20 minutes as in morning business.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
(The remarks of Mr. Wyden are printed in today's Record under
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Who yields time?
The Senator from Alabama.
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, I rise today to express my concerns with
the United States-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement and the problems
that have been associated with Vietnamese fish that are displacing the
American catfish industry.
Just two days after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Socialist
Republic of Vietnam's official, state-run media ran a story that
It's obvious that through this incident, Americans should
take another look at themselves. If Americans had not pursued
isolationism and chauvinism, and if they had not insisted on
imposing their values on others in their own subjective
manner, then perhaps the twin towers would still be standing
together in the singing waves and breeze of the Atlantic.
I think that is indicative of the fact that the Vietnamese Government
does not have a friendly view of the United States. We aren't imposing
our views on people around the world. They are trying to impose their
views on us. We have been attacked for it. I am offended by that. I
think the American people ought to know that. The President said these
nations ought to choose whether they are for us or against us with
regard to eliminating terrorism. I wasn't pleased with that comment
I want to make the note that they are apparently attempting to move
in some direction toward a market economy, which I celebrate. Although
we had a long and bitter and difficult war with them, I certainly
believe that we can move beyond that conflict and that we can work
together in the future. But comments such as the one I just read are
not a way to build bridges between our nations. A nation that considers
itself responsible should not make a statement like that at the very
same time they are asking for trade benefits with this country.
We know what this will amount to. It will amount to the fact that
they will sell a lot more in the United States than they will buy from
That is the way it works on these trade agreements. I am sure we have
that today with China. We find that for every one dollar China buys
from us, the United States buys four dollars from them. But I want to
talk about this specific issue. It is frustrating to me.
Since 1997, the import volume of frozen fish filets from Vietnam that
are imported and sold as ``catfish'' has increased at incredibly high
rates. The volume has risen from less than 500,000 pounds to over 7
million pounds per year in the previous three years. The trend has
continued this year-the-Vietnamese penetration into the U.S. catfish
filet market alone has tripled in the last year from about 7 percent of
the market to 23 percent.
The Vietnamese are selling their product in the U.S. for $1.25 less
than U.S. processors. Because of this, the prices that U.S. processors
pay U.S. catfish farmers has dropped, causing significant losses and
threatening farmers, processors, supplying feed mills, employees and
communities dependent on the industry.
U.S. catfish farm production, which occurs mainly in Alabama,
Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana, accounts for 68 percent of the
pounds of fish sold and 50 percent of the total value of all U.S.
aquaculture, or fish farming, production.
That is a remarkable figure. Sixty-eight percent of the poundage of
fish produced by aquaculture are catfish produced mainly in my State
and others in the region.
The area where most of our catfish production comes from is an area
the State in which I was raised. That is, indeed, the poorest area of
Alabama. We have very few cash-producing sources of income in that area
of the State. Much of it has been lost. But there has been a bright
spot in catfish--both in production of ponds, the scientific research,
the feed mills and the processing of it. It produces quite a little
spurt of positive economic growth in this very poor industry.
Seventy-five percent of the employees--I have been told--at these
processing plants are single mothers. That is where many of them get
their first job.
Catfish farming is a significant industry for many areas of our
country. The problem is this: The fish that the Vietnamese are
importing which are displacing U.S.-raised catfish are not catfish at
all. They are basa fish, which are not even of the same family, genus,
or species of North American channel catfish. They do not even look
like North American channel catfish. These basa fish are being shipped
into the United States and labeled as catfish. These labels claim that
the frozen fish filets are Cajun catfish, implying they are from the
Mississippi Delta or from Louisiana. In fact, they are from the Mekong
Delta in South Vietnam. As a result, American consumers believe they
are purchasing and eating United States farm-raised catfish when they
are, in fact, eating Vietnamese basa.
Indeed, for some American people, who are not used to catfish, there
has been an odd reluctance--I guess I can understand it--to eating
catfish. The name of it makes them a bit uneasy. They wonder about
eating catfish. But the American catfish industry has gradually, over a
period of years, been able to wear down that image and show that
catfish is one of the absolutely finest fish you can eat. It is a
delight. And more and more people are eating it.
The American catfish industry has invested a long time in creating a
market for which no market ever existed before. And now we have the
Vietnamese shipping in a substantial amount--and it is continuing to
grow at record levels--of what is not even catfish, and marketing it
under the name of American catfish, a product that has been improved
and has gained support throughout our country. So it really is a
Also, the Vietnamese basa fish are raised in conditions that are
substantially different from the way that United States catfish are
raised and processed.
I remember, as a young person, the Ezell Catfish House on the
Tombigbee River. The fish were caught out of the river and sold there.
Really the Ezell family was key to the beginning of catfish popularity.
But people felt better about pond-raised catfish because the water is
cleaner and there is less likelihood there would be the pollutants that
would be in the river. So when you buy American catfish in a
restaurant, overwhelmingly, 99 percent is pond-raised catfish. It is
clean and well managed, according to high American standards.
That is not true of Vietnamese basa fish. These fish come out of the
Mekong River. Most of these fish in Vietnam are grown in floating
cages, under the fishermen's homes, along the Mekong River. They are
able to produce fish at a low cost because of cheap labor, loose
environmental regulations, and other regulations. I understand that the
workers in Vietnamese processing plants are paid one dollar a day. And
unlike other imported fish, such as tilapia or orange roughy, these
fish are imported as an intended substitute for American farm-raised
A group of Alabama catfish farmers visited Vietnam last November and
toured a number of the basa farms and processing plants. They witnessed
the use of chemicals that have been banned in the United States for
over 20 years, the use of human and animal waste as feed, and
temperatures in processing plants too warm to ensure the freshness of
the fish being processed there. These fish, of questionable quality,
are being sent in record numbers to the United States and are
fraudulently labeled as catfish.
If the Vietnamese were raising North American channel catfish of good
quality and importing them into the United States, I could understand
that. That would be fair trade. But fair trade is not importing basa
fish, labeling them as catfish, and passing them off to American
consumers as a quality pond-raised and processed catfish.
But there are some things our Federal Government can do to enforce
and clarify our existing laws. So I am pleased today to join with
Senator Hutchinson and Senator Lincoln, and others, to introduce
legislation that will eliminate the use of the word ``catfish'' with
any species that are not North American catfish. This small step will
help clarify FDA regulations and lessen consumer confusion.
In addition, the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal agency
charged with protecting the safety of the American food supply, can
begin inspecting more packages as they come into the United States to
ensure that they are labeled in a legal manner. The FDA, the Customs
Service, and the Justice Department need to vigorously pursue criminal
violations in this regard, if appropriate.
Currently, the FDA allows at least five violations before they will
take any enforcement action beyond a letter of reprimand to the company
importing the mislabeled fish. That does not make good sense to me. The
FDA allows an astounding number of violations before they do anything.
So I encourage the FDA, the Customs Service, and the Justice Department
to take every step they can in these matters.
I am disappointed there are no provisions in this trade agreement to
address the problems of the catfish industry. While this trade
agreement is not amendable--and I understand that--I want to take the
opportunity while the Senate is considering this agreement to express
my concerns for the way the Vietnamese fish industry is confusing
American consumers and causing economic hardship in my State and
For these reasons, I expect, Mr. President, to vote against this
I thank the Chair and yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Massachusetts.
Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, let me say to my colleague, I certainly
have respect for and appreciate his concern about a local industry, but
I think, as I said to Senator Hutchinson, this is a matter of labeling,
it is a matter of regulatory process. It is not a question of whether
or not you improve the overall agreement. I also say to my colleague--
he may not be aware of it--obviously, the People's Army Daily, the
Army, are the hardliners. And there is a struggle going on in Vietnam
between the reformers and the hardliners, as there are in many
countries that are trying to deal with this kind of process of change.
That statement by the Army colonel is not representative of the
I would like to share with all my colleagues that the President of
Vietnam, the very next day after the terrorist attack, sent this
message to the United States:
The government and people of Vietnam were shocked by the
tragedy that happened on the morning of 11 September 2001. We
would like to convey to the government and people of the
United States, especially the victims' families, our profound
condolences. Consistently, Vietnam protests against terrorist
acts that bring deaths and sufferings to civilians.
This is the comment I received from the Foreign Minister:
Your Excellency Mr. Senator,
I was extremely shocked and deeply moved by the tragedy
happening in the United States on the 11 September 2001
morning. I would like to extend to you, and through you, to
the families of the victims, my deepest condolences. I am
confident that the U.S. Government and people will soon
overcome this difficult moment. We strongly condemn the
terrorist attack and are willing to work closely with the
United States and other countries in the fight against
This is a media report from the German press, Deutsche Presse. This
is from Hanoi:
American businesspeople, aid workers, and embassy officials
said Wednesday they have been overwhelmed with the amount of
support and sympathy offered by Vietnamese over last week's
devastating terrorist attacks in the United States.
While Vietnam's normally reserved state media has confined
its expressions of sorrow to an announcement by President Duc
Luong, personal reactions by Vietnamese have been deep and
``There has been a real outpouring of sympathy,'' said a
spokesman at the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh city, the
former Saigon. Bouquets of flowers were left at the
building's entrance, while locals and expatriates lined up
last week to sign a condolence book.
Similar acts were played out at the embassy in Hanoi where
senior Vietnamese officials and contacts paid their respects.
There have been reports of some U.S. firms receiving
donations from Vietnamese for families of the victims in the
So I really think we have to recognize that the transition for the
military is obviously slower and far more complicated, as it is with
the People's Liberation Army in China, versus what the leadership is
trying to do as they bring their own country along. I really think we
need to take recognition of these facts.
The fact is, there is participation in religious activities in
Vietnam that continues to grow. Churches are full. I have been to
church in Vietnam. They are full on days of worship and days of
remembrance. Is it more controlled than we would like it? Yes. Has it
changed. Yes? Is it continuing to change? Yes.
I think we should also recognize that last year some 500 cases were
adjudicated by labor courts. And there were 72 strikes last year, and
more than 450 strikes in Vietnam since 1993. So even within the labor
movement there has been an increasing empowerment of workers, and there
has been change.
Are things in Vietnam as we would want them to be tomorrow? The
answer is no. But have they made progress well beyond other countries
with whom we trade? You bet they have. Is their human rights record
even better than the Chinese? Yes, it is. We need to take cognizance of
Let me correct one statement of the Senator from New Hampshire. I am
not alone in objecting to this particular attempt to try to bring the
human rights bill to the floor in conjunction with action on the trade
agreement. I am for having a human rights statement at the appropriate
time. This is not the appropriate time. There are Senators on both
sides of the aisle and a broad-based group of Senators who believe this
is not the moment and the place for this particular separate piece of
legislation. At some point in the future, we would be happy to consider
it under the normal legislative process.
I respect the comments of the Senator, but I hope we will take notice
of the official recognition that has come from Vietnam with respect to
the terrorist attacks on the United States.
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. President, will the Senator yield?
Mr. KERRY. I will yield for a question. I need to move off the floor.
Mr. SESSIONS. I appreciate the hard work of the Senator. Having
served his country with great distinction in Vietnam, he certainly has
the honor and the authority to lead us in a new relationship with that
country. I hope it will succeed. I tend to believe that is one of the
great characteristics of America, that we can move past conflicts. It
is with some reluctance that I believe, because of this trade issue,
that I ought to vote against it.
Mr. KERRY. I understand and respect that very much from the Senator,
and I thank him for his generous comments. I also remind colleagues
that we are not relinquishing our right to continue to monitor, as we
should, human rights in Vietnam or in any country. This is not
permanent trade relations status. This is annual trade relations. What
we are granting is normal trade relations status that must be reviewed
annually as required by the Jackson-Vanik amendment. This annual review
will allow us to continue to monitor Vietnam's human rights
Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The senior assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. DORGAN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order
for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Clinton). Without objection, it is so
Mr. DORGAN. Madam President, we are now debating the trade agreement
with Vietnam which not only provides normal trade relations status with
that country but also includes with it a bilateral trade agreement that
we have negotiated with Vietnam.
Normal trade relations, which used to be called most-favored-nation
status but has since been changed, are relations we have with almost
every country in the world. I believe there are only five countries
with which we do not have normal trade relations. This bill bestows
normal trade relations with respect to Vietnam but does it on a yearly
basis so the Congress will review it year by year.
Vietnam is a Communist country; it has a Communist government. It has
an economic system that is moving towards a market-based economy. I,
along with several of my colleagues, Senator Daschle, Senator Leahy,
John Glenn, and a couple others, visited Vietnam a few years ago. It
was a fascinating visit to see the embryo of a marketed-based system.
I don't think a market-based economy is at all in concert with a
Communist government. But nonetheless, just as is the case in China,
Vietnam is attempting to create a market-based economy under the aegis
of a Communist government.
A market-based economy means having private property, being able to
establish a storefront and sell goods. It was fascinating, after being
behind the curtain for so long, to see these folks in Vietnam being
able to open a shop or find a piece of space on a sidewalk someplace
and sell something. It was their piece of private enterprise. It was
their approach to making a living in the private sector. So what we
have is a country that has a Communist government but the emergence of
a market economy.
It is interesting to watch. I have no idea how it will end up. But
recognizing that things have changed in Vietnam in many ways, this
country has proposed a trade agreement and normal trade relations with
the country of Vietnam.
I am going to be supportive of that today. But I must say, once
again, as I did about the free trade agreement with the country of
Jordan, I don't think this is a particularly good way to do trade
agreements. This comes to us under an expedited set of procedures. It
comes to us in a manner that prevents amendments.
Amendments are prohibited because of Jackson-Vanik provisions in the
trade act of 1974. These provisions would apply to a trade agreement we
had negotiated with a country having similar economic characteristics
What I want to say about this subject is something I have said
before, but it bears repeating. And frankly, even if I didn't, I would
say it because I believe I need to say it when we talk about
I am going to support this trade agreement. I hope it helps our
country. I hope it helps the country of Vietnam. I hope it helps our
country in providing some stimulus to our economy. Vietnam is a very
small country with whom we have a very small amount of international
trade. But I hope the net effect of this is beneficial to this country.
Trade agreements ought to be mutually beneficial. I hope it helps
Vietnam because I hope that Vietnam eventually can escape the yoke of
Communism. Certainly one way to do that is to encourage the market
system they are now beginning to see in their country.
I hope this trade agreement is mutually beneficial. I do not,
however, believe that trade agreements, by and large, should be brought
to the floor of the Senate under expedited procedures.
I will vote for this agreement, but I want there to be no dispute
about the question of so-called fast track procedures. Fast-track is a
process by which trade agreements are negotiated and then brought to
the floor of the Senate and the Senate is told: You may not offer
amendments. No amendments will be in order to these trade agreements.
The reason I come to say this is because of recent statements made by
our trade ambassador since the September 11 acts of terrorism in this
country. He has indicated that, because of those events, it is all the
more reason to provide trade promotion authority, or so-called fast
track, to the President in order to negotiate new trade agreements. I
didn't support giving that authority to President Clinton. I do not
support giving that authority to this President. I will explain why.
First of all, the Constitution is quite clear about international
trade. Article I, section 8 says:
The Congress shall have Power . . . To regulate Commerce
with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with
the Indian Tribes.
That is not equivocal. It doesn't say the President shall have the
power, or the trade ambassador shall have the power, or some unnamed
trade negotiator shall have the power, but that Congress shall have the
power. Only Congress shall have the power under the U.S. Constitution.
We have had experience with so-called fast track and international
trade. Fast track has meant that succeeding administrations, Republican
and Democrat, have gone off to foreign lands and negotiated trade
agreements--agreements like the Free Trade Agreement with Canada, the
North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, and the
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The list is fairly long. After
negotiating trade agreements using fast track, the administrations
would bring a product back to the Senate and say, here is a trade
agreement we have negotiated with Canada, Mexico, and with other
countries. We want you to consider it, Senators, under this
restriction: You have no right under any condition or any set of
circumstances to change it. So the Senate, with that set of handcuffs,
considers a trade agreement with no ability to amend it, and then votes
up or down, yes or no. It has approved these trade agreements. I have
not supported them. I thought all of them were bad agreements. I will
explain why in a moment. Nonetheless, they represent the agreements
that have been approved by the Senate.
Let's take a look at how good these agreements have been. This chart
represents the ballooning trade deficit in our country. It is growing
at an alarming rate. Last year, the merchandise trade deficit in
America was $452 billion. That means that every single day, 7 days a
week, almost $1.5 billion more is brought into this country in the form
of U.S. imports than is sold outside this country in the form of U.S.
Does that mean we owe somebody some money? We sure do. These deficits
mean that we are in hock. We owe money to those from whom we are buying
imports in excess of what we are exporting. That means we are incurring
very substantial debt.
You can look at the trade agreements we have negotiated with Canada,
Mexico, and GATT and evaluate what happened as a result. Mexico: We had
a small trade surplus with Mexico. Good for us. Then we negotiate a
trade agreement with them and we turned a small surplus into a huge and
growing deficit. Was that a good agreement? Not where I come from.
Canada: We had a modest trade deficit with Canada and we quickly
doubled it after the trade agreement with Canada.
How about China? We now have a bilateral agreement with China. Let me
just describe one of the insidious things that represents that
bilateral agreement--automobiles. Our country negotiated an agreement
with China that said if we have trade in automobiles between the U.S.
and China, here is the way we will agree to allow it to occur: On
American cars, U.S. cars being sold in China, after a long phase-in, we
will agree that China can impose a 25-percent tariff on American cars
being sold in China. On Chinese cars being sold in the United States,
we will agree that we will impose only a 2.5-percent tariff. In other
words, our negotiators negotiated an agreement that said, with respect
to auto trade between the United States and China, we will allow you to
impose a tariff 10 times higher than the tariff in the United States.
I don't know for whom these folks were negotiating, or for whom they
thought they were working, and I don't know where they left their
thinking caps when they negotiated these agreements, but they sure are
not representing the interests of this country when they say to a
country such as China, we will allow you to impose a tariff that is 10
times higher on U.S. automobiles going to China than on Chinese
automobiles sold in the United States. That makes no sense.
My point is, our trade deficit with China has grown to well over $80
billion a year at this point--the merchandise trade deficit. We have
the same thing with Japan. Every year for as far as you can see we have
had a huge and growing trade deficit with the country of Japan. It
doesn't make sense to continue doing that.
I can give you a lot of examples with respect to Japan. Beef is one
good example. We send T-bone steaks to Tokyo. They need more beef. Beef
costs a lot of money in Tokyo, so we send T-bone steaks. Twelve years
after our beef agreement with Japan, every pound of American beef going
to Japan has a 38.5-percent tariff on it. So we send T-bone steaks to
Tokyo--not enough of them. Why? Because we have agreed with Japan that
they can allow a 38.5-percent tariff still 12 years after a beef
agreement that our trade negotiators had a big feast about because they
thought they had won.
Another example of absurdities in trade is motor vehicles and Korea.
Last year, we had 570,000 Korean vehicles come into the United States
of America. Our consumers buy them. Korea ships their cars to the
United States to be sold in our marketplace. Do you know how many
vehicles we sold in Korea? We shipped about 1,700. So there were
570,000 coming this way, and 1,700 going that way. Why? Try to buy a
Ford in Korea. You would be surprised by its cost due to tariffs and
taxes. Korea doesn't want our cars in their country. They say: We are
sorry, you are not welcome to send your cars to our marketplace.
If you don't like to talk about cars in international trade, talk
about potato flakes. This product is found in many snack foods. Try to
send potato flakes to Korea. You will find a 300-percent tariff. Does
that anger the potato farmers? Of course it does. Do they think it is
fair? Of course not. We have huge deficits with China, Japan, Korea,
Mexico, and nobody seems to give a rip. Nobody cares. This trade
deficit is growing, and it represents a deficit that is a burden on
this economy. Someday, unlike the budget deficits we have had in the
past, trade deficits must be and will be repaid with a lower standard
of living in this country. That is inevitable. So we had better worry
about these issues.
We have this growing trade deficit our friends in Canada--they are
our friends, and we share a long common border. But we still have trade
problems like stuffed molasses. You see, Brazilian sugar comes into
Canada. They load it on liquid molasses, and it becomes stuffed
molasses. Then it is sent into Michigan, and they unload it every day.
So we have molasses loaded with sugar as a way to abridge our trade
agreement. It is called stuffed molasses. Most people would not be
familiar with that. It is not a candy. It is cheating on international
I can spend an hour talking about these issues with respect to China,
Japan, Europe, Canada, and Mexico. I won't do that, although I am
tempted, I must say. My only point in coming to the floor when we talk
about a trade agreement is to say this: There are those of us in the
Senate that have had it right up to our chins with trade negotiators
who seem to lose the minute they begin negotiating.
Will Rogers once said, ``The U.S. has never lost a war and never won
a conference.'' He surely must have been talking about our trade
negotiators. I and a number of colleagues in this body will do
everything we can to prevent the passage of fast-track trade authority.
I felt that way about the previous administration, who asked for it;
and I feel that way about this administration. We cannot any longer
allow trade negotiators to go out and negotiate bad agreements that
undercut this country's economic strength and vitality.
My message is I am going to vote for this trade agreement which
establishes normal trade relations with the country of Vietnam. It is a
small country with which we have a relatively small amount of bilateral
I wish Vietnam well. I hope this trade agreement represents our
mutual self-interest. I hope it is mutually beneficial to Vietnam and
the United States, but I want there to be no dispute and no
misunderstanding about what this means in the context of the larger
debate we will have later on the issue of fast-track trade authority.
Fast-track trade authority has undermined this country's economic
strength, and I and a group of others in the Senate will do everything
we can--everything we can--to stop those who want to run a fast-track
through the Congress. Ambassador Zoellick said in light of the
tragedies that occurred in this country, it is very important for the
administration to have this fast-track authority. I disagree.
What we need is to provide a lift to the American economy. How do we
do that? Lift is all about confidence. It is all about the American
people having confidence in the future. It is very hard to have
confidence in the future of this economy when the American people
understand that we have a trade deficit that is ballooning. It is a
lodestone on the American economy that must be addressed, and the
sooner the better.
I have a lot to say on trade. I will not burden the Senate with it
further today, only to say this: Those who wish to talk about this
economy and the events of September 11 in the context of granting fast-
track trade authority to this administration will find a very
aggressive and willing opponent, at least at this desk in the Senate.
Having visited with a number of my colleagues, I will not be standing
alone. We intend in every way to prevent fast-track trade authority.
Incidentally, one can negotiate all kinds of trade agreements without
fast-track authority. One does not need fast-track trade authority to
negotiate a trade agreement. The previous administration negotiated and
completed several hundred trade agreements without fast-track
Giving fast-track authority to trade negotiators is essentially
putting handcuffs on every Senator. With fast-track, it is not our
business with respect to details in negotiated trade agreements, it is
only our business to vote yes or no. We have no right to suggest
changes. Had we had that right with the U.S.-Canada agreement and the
NAFTA agreement, I guarantee the grain trade and other trade problems
we have had with both countries would be a whole lot different.
I have gone on longer than I intended.
Again, because we are talking about Vietnam, I wish Vietnam well, and
I wish our country well. I want this to be a mutually beneficial trade
agreement. With respect to future trade agreements and fast track, I
will not be in the Chamber of the Senate approving those who would
handcuff the Senate in giving their opinion and offering their advice
on trade, only because the U.S. Constitution is not equivocal. The U.S.
Constitution says in article I, section 8: The Congress shall have the
power to regulate commerce with foreign nations.
Madam President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Who yields time?
Mrs. LINCOLN. Madam President, I yield time to the Senator from
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nebraska.
Mr. HAGEL. I thank the Chair.
Madam President, I appreciate very much the time of my friend and
colleague from Arkansas. I rise this afternoon to speak in support of
the Vietnam bilateral trade agreement, and I support this agreement
with much enthusiasm.
It was 2 years ago in August that my brother Tom and I returned to
Vietnam after 31 years. I left Vietnam in December of 1968 as a U.S.
Army infantryman. My brother Tom left 1 month after I did in January
1969. We went to Hanoi, Saigon, which is now Ho Chi Minh City. We went
to the Mekong Delta. We went to areas where we had served together as
infantry squad leaders with the 9th Infantry Division.
What we observed during that time 2 years ago was something rather
remarkable. Each of us had no preconditions put upon our return trip as
to what we might see or hear. We were there at the invitation of
Ambassador Peterson to cut the ribbon to open our new consulate in Ho
Chi Minh City.
What we saw was a thriving, industrious nation. We saw a nation of
over 70 million people, the great majority of those people born after
1975. That is when the United States quite unceremoniously left
The reason that is important is because that is a generation that was
born after the war that harbors no ill will toward the United States.
That is a developing generation of leadership that is completely
different from the Communist totalitarian leadership that has presided
I believe I am clear eyed in this business of foreign relations and
who represents America's friends and allies and who does not. This
business is imperfect, this business is imprecise--this business being
foreign relations. Trade is very much a part of foreign relations.
Why is that? Because it is part of our relations with another nation.
It is part of our role in a region of the world that strategically,
geopolitically, and economically is important to us. Trade is part of
foreign relations because it is a dynamic that represents stability and
security, and when nations are stable, when there is security, when
there is an organized effort to improve economies, open up a society,
develop into a democracy. That is not always easy.
It was not easy for this country. I remind us all that 80 years ago
the Presiding Officer of the Senate today could not vote in this
country. We should be a bit careful as we lecture and moralize across
the globe as to standards for America 2001 or standards for America
1900, the point being that trade is a very integral part of our
relationships with other nations.
I suspect that if there ever was a time in the history of this young
nation called America when our relationships with other nations are
rather critical, it is right now.
Should we pass a trade agreement with a country based on what
happened in this Nation on September 11? No.
Should we overstate the trade dynamic as the President continues to
work with the Congress to develop an international coalition to take on
and defeat global terrorism? No.
Should we be clear eyed in our trade relationships, evaluate them,
pass them, and implement them on the basis of what is good for our
If a trade agreement is good for our country, should it be good for
the other country? Yes.
Will this trade agreement be good for Vietnam? Yes.
Why is that good for us? It is good for us, first of all, because it
breaks down trade barriers and allows our goods and our services an
opportunity to compete in this new market called Vietnam. Will it be
enlightening, dynamic, and change overnight, and I will therefore see
much Nebraska beef and wheat move right into Vietnam within 12 months?
No, of course not. That is not how the world works.
Every trade agreement into which this country has entered, as flawed,
imperfect, and imprecise as they are--and they all are--what is the
alternative? Whom do we isolate when we do not trade? How do we further
stability in a region of the world? How do we further our own
interests, the interests of peace and stability and prosperity in the
world? Let us not forget that the breeding ground for terrorism is
always in the nations with no hope, always in the nations that have
been bogged down in the dark abyss of poverty and hunger. That
discontent, that conflict, is where the evil begins.
I say these things because I think they are important as we debate
this Vietnam trade agreement because they are connected to the bigger
issues we are facing in the country.
I do not stand in this Chamber and say it because of this great
challenge we face today and we will face tomorrow and we will face
years into the horizon, but I say it because it is good for this
country. That part of the world, Southeast Asia, where China is on the
north of Vietnam and at the tip of Southeast Asia, is in great conflict
Indonesia needs the kind of stability and trade relationships that we
can help build. It is in the interest of our country, our future, and
Just as this body did last week when we passed the Jordanian
bilateral trade agreement, so should this body pass the Vietnam
bilateral trade agreement.
I hope after we have completed that act today, we will soon move to
the next level of trade, which is the largest, most comprehensive, and
probably most important, and that is to once again give the President
of the United States trade promotion authority. It has been known as
Every President in this country, in the history of our country since
1974, has been granted that authority. Why is that? In 1974, a
Republican President was granted that fast-track authority to negotiate
trade agreements and
bring them back before the Congress, by a Democratic Congress, which
was clearly in the best interest of this country, and it still is.
Unfortunately, since 1994 the President of the United States,
including the last President, President Clinton, and this new
President, President Bush, has been without trade promotion authority.
What has that meant to our country? It has meant something very simple
and clear. That is, the President does not have the authority to
negotiate trade agreements and bring them back to the Congress for an
What does that mean in real terms as far as jobs are concerned and
for the people in New York, Arkansas, and Nebraska, all the States
represented in this great Chamber? It means less opportunity, fewer
good jobs, better paying jobs, more opportunities to sell goods and
So I hope as we continue to build momentum along the trade route and
on the trade agenda, somewhat magnified by the events of September 11,
we will get to a trade agenda soon in this body that once again allows
this body to debate trade promotion authority for the President of the
United States and will grant the President that authority we have
granted Presidents on a bipartisan basis since 1974.
That is the other perspective, it seems to me, that we need to
reflect on as we look at this debate today.
In these historic, critical times, I close by saying I hope my
colleagues take a very clear, close look at this issue and attach all
the different dynamics that are attached to this particular trade bill,
and therefore urge my colleagues to vote for the Vietnam bilateral
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arkansas.
Mrs. LINCOLN. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Madam President, I associate myself with some of the words from our
Senator from Nebraska, very well founded in his conclusion that
terrorism is bred in countries with no hope, and absolutely that is
something that is very pertinent today as we talk about the engagement
of our Nation in a trade agreement with Vietnam.
The grasp of the evil we saw in New York, the evil acts, the hatred
we saw that was exhibited there, truly came from those who had no hope,
from a country that produced those individuals who had no hope. Without
a doubt, we are here today to talk about engaging nations in a way
where we can help in working with them, building a friendship and a
working relationship which in turn gives us the ability to share some
of the hopes we have in our great Nation with other nations which then
can grow those hopes in a way where we can be good neighbors and we can
share with one another.
As a young woman growing up in a very small rural community in east
Arkansas, I learned many great lessons from my father as the daughter
of a farmer. But there was no greater lesson really to have learned
than that my father impressed upon me how important it was to reach
beyond the fenceposts of Phillips County, AR, to be engaged with other
communities across the great river of the Mississippi, to work with
individuals in Tennessee and Mississippi, but also to reach across even
greater barriers into other countries, recognizing that the importance
of what we did as farmers in east Arkansas and the growth of the
economy were inherently dependent on the bridges we built with other
nations across the globe.
That is what we are talking about today, looking at options for not
only free trade but, more importantly, fair trade, to establish those
relationships and those working agreements with nations where we not
only can build hope but we can also build a greater opportunity for
economic development in our own home as well as in those countries.
I also rise today to add some of my concerns about a very important
issue a few of my colleagues have already addressed in this Chamber.
The issue I am talking about is catfish. Aquaculture in our Nation has
been a growing industry. This country is being deluged by imports of
Vietnamese fish known as a basa fish which are brought into this
country and misleadingly sold as catfish to our consumers who think
they are buying farm-raised catfish.
Let us remember this important point: When consumers think of
catfish, when we all think of catfish, we have in mind a very specific
fish we have all known. But that is not what the Vietnamese are
selling. They are selling an entirely different fish and calling it a
catfish. This Vietnamese fish is not even a part of the same taxonomic
family as a North American channel catfish. This Vietnamese fish that
is coming into our country is no closer to a catfish than a yak is to a
cow. My Midwesterners will understand that.
Why are they doing it? Because the catfish market in America is
growing. Americans like catfish. It is wholesome. It is healthy. It is
safe. It is the best protein source you can find from grain to a meat.
American-raised catfish is farm raised and grain fed, grown in
specially built ponds that pass environmental inspection, cared for in
closely regulated and closely scrutinized environments to ensure the
safest supply of the cleanest fish that a consumer could purchase or
want to get at a restaurant.
The people importing these Vietnamese fish see a growing market of
which they can take advantage. It is irrelevant to them that what they
are selling isn't really catfish or that their fish are raised in one
of the worst environmental rivers on the globe. The hard-working
catfish farmers of my State of Arkansas, as well as Louisiana,
Mississippi, and Alabama, are being robbed of a hard-won market that
they developed out of nothing. As we all know, rural America has been
in serious decline for years. The ability of family farmers throughout
the country to scrape out a living has been disappearing in front of
our very eyes.
Unfortunately, our rural communities in the Mississippi Delta where
much of the catfish industry is now located have shared in this
devastating decline. Of course, the decline of the rural economy has
many causes, but a powerful force behind this decline has been the
disconnect between production agriculture in the United States and the
terribly distorted and terribly unfair overseas markets these farmers
face. They must compete with heavily subsidized imports that come into
this country and undermine their own market. When they are able to
crack open a tightly closed foreign market, U.S. farmers must compete
again with heavily subsidized foreign competition.
In short, the unfair trading practices of our foreign competitors
have played a very significant role in the serious damage wrought on
America's farmers and has been a primary cause in the decline of rural
Over the past several years, rather than accept defeat to the
advancing forces, farmers in our part of the country decided to fight
back. They fought back by building a new market in aquaculture,
recognizing the enormous percentage of aquaculture fish and shell fish
that we still import into this country today. There is one thing that
we can do well in the delta region; it is grow catfish. So many of
these communities, these farmers, their families and related
industries, invested millions and millions of dollars into building a
catfish industry and a catfish market. And they have diversified. It
has taken years, but they have done it and done it well. They are still
Now, just as they are seeing the fruit of their years of labor and
investment, just as they are finding a light at the end of the rural
economic tunnel, they find themselves facing a new and more serious
form of unfair trading practices. They saw their financial return on
these other traditional crops fall alongside the general decline in our
rural economy by shipments of fish that is no more closely related to
catfish than you and I--than a yak is to a cow. It is an unfair irony
that our catfish farmers find themselves once again in the headlights
of an onslaught of unfair trade from another country. But my colleagues
from catfish-producing States and I are not going to stand for it.
My distinguished colleague from Massachusetts, Senator Kerry,
observed earlier this is a problem that can be addressed by attacking
the Vietnamese practice itself where it occurs, and that is at the
labeling stages. That is exactly what I am here to do today.
Today my colleagues and I, my colleagues from the other catfish-
producing States, are introducing a bill that will stop this misleading
labeling at the source. Our bill will prohibit the labeling of any
fish--as catfish that is; in fact, not an actual member of the catfish
family. We are not trying to stop other countries from growing catfish
and selling it to our country. We simply want to make sure that if they
say they are selling catfish, they are doing exactly that.
This is about truth in fairness. That is what our bill seeks to
accomplish. On behalf of the catfish farmers in Arkansas and the rest
of our producing States, I am proud to introduce this bill. We will
pursue this bill with every ounce of fight we have. Our farmers and our
rural communities deserve it. This is one way we from the Congress can
address the issues we see and still maintain the good trading
relationships, the good engagement with other nations to help grow that
hope, to help build those friendships and relationships that we need in
this ever smaller global world in which we are finding ourselves.
As we work to make those trade agreements and certainly the trade
initiatives that are out there more fair, we want to continue to
encourage all of the engagement of opening up freer trade with many of
the nations of the world in the hope of finding that hope about which
the Senator from Nebraska spoke so eloquently.
I reserve the remainder of my time.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.
Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire. How much time do we have?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Seventy-three and a half minutes.
Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire. I yield myself such time as I might
Madam President, I will try to put back into perspective the issue
before the Senate subsequent to some of the remarks made since I last
The issue is whether or not we want to continue to provide normal
trade relations with the Vietnamese. That is the matter on which the
Senate will be voting. The point I have been trying to make in my
discussion is whether or not the Senate would be willing to do what the
House did by a vote of 410-1 and approve the Vietnam Human Rights Act,
H.R. 2833. I would like to see a favorable vote on H.R. 2833, but I am
not asking for everybody to vote for it. I am simply asking for the
opportunity to vote on it.
I don't understand, given all of the circumstances of the human
rights violations that the Vietnamese have committed, why it is, if we
are going to provide normal trade relations with them, that we cannot
go on record as the House--and properly so--stating we object to those
human rights violations. We do it to other countries all of the time.
There is only one conclusion that can be drawn; let's be honest. We
don't want to embarrass the Vietnamese. Those Members of the Senate
holding up the opportunity to vote on H.R. 2833 are doing it strictly
because they are afraid somehow this will embarrass the Vietnamese or
somehow make it awkward for them.
As I said earlier, this is a quote from People's Army Daily which
speaks for the Vietnamese Government on numerous occasions when they
talked about the terrorist attack on the United States of America:
. . . It's obvious that through this incident, Americans
should take another look at themselves. If Americans had not
pursued isolationism and chauvinism, and if they had not
insisted on imposing their values on others in their own
subjective manner, then perhaps the twin towers would still
be standing together in the singing waves and breeze of the
I don't know about you, but I am offended by that remark. I am
offended by that, to put it mildly. That is not what President Bush was
talking about when he said: You are with us or against us in this fight
I know there was read on the floor an official statement by the
Vietnamese Government which contradicted that, which expressed some
concern about the outrage of the terrorist attack. It is also important
to understand that in the paper where that was printed, there was also
printed right next to it an article decrying the ``brazen''
interference by Washington in Vietnam's human rights matters.
So you are getting a double message here. The point is, we do not
want a double message from the Vietnamese Government on what happened
in New York and Washington 3 weeks ago. We want one very clear message,
which is what President Bush asked for: You are with us or you are not.
I don't know how you feel, but as I read that statement, that doesn't
strike me as somebody who is with us and supporting us in our acts
But however you feel about that remark--that offends me; I think it
offends most Americans--that is not the issue before us today. I wish
to repeat what I am asking for, which is a vote on the human rights
bill--that is all--in addition to a vote on this bill.
Unfortunately, because of holds on the human rights bill--I repeat,
it passed 410-1 in the House of Representatives--we can't have that
vote. All it is going to do is cite and recite--and I will have some of
these in the Record now--some of the human rights violations of which
the Vietnamese Government is guilty.
I do not want to normalize trade relations with them for a number of
reasons--first and foremost, because they have never fully accounted
for POWs and MIAs, and I don't care how many people come on the floor
and say they did. They have not. It is an issue I have worked on for 17
years, and I can tell you right now they have not fully cooperated in
accounting for POWs. If anyone wants to sit down with me and go through
it on a case-by-case basis, I will be happy to do it.
It is false. Paul Wolfowitz said it was. The archives have not been
opened. Have they been cooperative to some extent? Yes. Have they been
fully cooperative? No. There are lots of families out there who have
not gotten information on their loved ones that the Vietnamese could
provide. They have not done it. So I don't want to hear this stuff that
they are fully cooperative. They are not fully cooperative. There is a
big difference between being cooperative and being fully cooperative.
They are not cooperative fully. You can ask anyone who works on this
issue in the Intelligence Committee--and certainly Paul Wolfowitz knows
what he is talking about. He says they are not fully cooperative. So
let's not stand on the floor of the Senate and say let's normalize
trade with Vietnam because they have been fully cooperative when every
one of us knows differently. End of story; they are not.
If you want to go beyond that, that is not the only issue. All I am
asking is that the Senate, in addition to voting on this normalizing
trade, would also give the Senate the opportunity to be heard on what
the House did on the human rights violations. That is it.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International recently criticized the
Vietnamese Government's use of closed trials to impose harsh prison
terms on 14 ethnic minority Montagnards from the central highlands of
Vietnam--closed trials, kangaroo courts. The Montagnards were the ones
who helped us tremendously during the Vietnam war. That is a nice
thank-you for what they did. Many of them gave their lives and lots of
freedoms to stand up with us--stand with us during the vietnam war. Now
we are having kangaroo courts, defendants charged. This is one of the
charges: destabilizing security.
Why do we have to tolerate it? I understand we cannot necessarily go
back into the Government of Vietnam and change their way of life. That
has been said. I wish it would change. But we do not have to condone it
by simply ignoring it while we give them normal trade relations. Give
them the normal trade relations, if you want--I will vote no--but at
the same time give us the opportunity to expose this and say on the
floor of the Senate, as the House did 410-1, this is wrong. That is all
I am asking.
The only reason I can't do it is because people have secret holds. I
have said, and I will say it again publicly, I hate secret holds. I do
not use them. When I put a hold on something, I tell people. If anybody
asks me do I have a hold, I say, yes, I do, and here is the reason. If
I can't take it off, I will tell you. If I can, I can work with you. I
wish we did not have secret holds. I think it is wrong. I think those
who have the holds should come down and say they have the holds and
why. Why is it we cannot vote on the human rights accord as the House
I mentioned the Montagnards. I will repeat a few. But it is
unbelievable, some of the things that are going on and we choose to
ignore them because we do not want to offend them for fear we might not
be able to sell them something.
To be candid about it, there are things more important than making a
profit in America. There are about 6,500 people in New York who would
love to have the opportunity to make a profit. They cannot because they
have lost their freedom permanently because of what happened.
This is the insensitive, terrible comment that was made by these
people in Vietnam. And there were more. I read more into the Record. I
will not repeat them. Students on the street saying it is too bad it
wasn't Bush and it is too bad it wasn't the CIA, on and on, comments
coming out of the Vietnamese Government, and students and populace, and
put in their papers, on the public record.
They can stop anything they want from being printed. They do not have
a free press in Vietnam. If they don't want this stuff printed, they
could say: We won't print it. But they did print it because it is a
double slap. Here is the official message: We are sorry about what
happened. But here is the other message. That is what bothers me.
Again, all I am asking for is the right to vote on this human rights
accord and we cannot do it because we cannot get it to the floor.
The Government of Vietnam consistently pursues the policy of
harassment, discrimination, intimidation, imprisonment, sometimes other
forms of detention, and torture. Sometimes trading in human beings
themselves--having people try to buy their freedom to get out of that
place and after they pay the money they retain them anyway and will not
let them out.
The recent victims of such mistreatment--it goes on and on. We could
give all kinds of personal testimony to that--priests, religious
leaders, Protestants, Jews, Catholics--anybody. They have all been
victims of this terrible, terrible policy of this Government of
Vietnam. Yet we ignore it. We refuse to even vote on it.
Everybody has to work with their own conscience. Again, however you
feel about it, whether you agree or disagree with the violations, or
whether you agree or disagree with normalizing trade with Vietnam, that
is the issue. The issue is: Why can't we be heard? Why can't the Senate
vote as the House did to point out what these terrible human rights
These are the Senate rules. I respect the Senate rules. Every Senator
has a right to do that. I do not criticize the rule nor anyone's
motives, other than to say I wish those who oppose voting on human
rights would have the courage to come down and say why not. Why can't
we say, at the same time we are giving you trade, that we are also
willing to tell you it is wrong, what you are doing to people in
Vietnam: torturing, slave trading, forcing people to buy their freedom
and then not allowing them to get free after they pay the money, on and
on--persecution of religious leaders. These things are wrong. We
criticize governments all over the world for doing it, all the time. We
take actions against them, sanctions and other things.
Then, on top of that, the insensitivity of this remark, and others--
that is reason enough to say OK, we are not going to interfere with the
trade, we will give you the trade, but we also want to point out to you
that what you are doing is wrong. What you said here is wrong. What you
are doing to citizens in Vietnam is wrong, and we are going to say that
in this resolution, as the House did. That is all I am asking. I know
it is not going to happen. That is regrettable. I think, frankly, it is
not the Senate's finest hour that we ignore that remark, ignore the
human rights violations and give them trade.
Sometimes you just have to let your heart take priority in some of
these matters. You know what your heart says. You know in your heart
that is wrong. You know it is. I don't care how much profit we make
buying or selling--whatever, grain. It doesn't matter to me what it is.
Profit should not take precedence over principle. Believe me, we are
letting that happen today at 2 o'clock when we vote. I am telling you
we are. It is not the Senate's finest hour.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arkansas.
Mrs. LINCOLN. Before I suggest the absence of a quorum, I might
recommend to my colleague from New Hampshire, he might be interested in
requesting a unanimous consent to send that bill back to committee. If
it went through the process, it might have a better chance of coming up
to the floor.
Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire. Madam President, if the Senator will
agree that we postpone this vote until we have this bill go back to the
committee where it can be heard and brought to the floor, I would be
fine with that. Apparently that is not going to be the case. I think it
is only fair if the Committee on Foreign Relations is going to discuss
human rights violations, we should hold off the vote on this and do
both at the same time. That is not going to happen.
Mrs. LINCOLN. It is just a suggestion.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Arizona.
Mr. McCAIN. Madam President, I have risen many times in this body
over the course of the last decade to affirm my support for moving
forward our relationship with Vietnam. We began carefully, over a
decade ago, with cooperation in the search for our missing service
personnel. That cooperation, along with Vietnam's withdrawal from
Cambodia and the end of the cold war, fostered a new spirit in
Southeast Asia that allowed us to lift the U.S. trade embargo against
Vietnam in 1994 and normalize diplomatic relations in 1995. My friend
Pete Peterson was nominated by the President to serve as our ambassador
in Hanoi in 1996 and was confirmed by the Senate in 1997. We lifted
Jackson-Vanik restrictions on Vietnam in 1998 and have sustained the
Jackson-Vanik waiver for that country in subsequent years. In 2000, we
signed a bilateral trade agreement with Vietnam--one of the most
comprehensive bilateral trade agreements our country has ever
negotiated. We stand ready today to approve this agreement and, in
doing so, complete the final step in the full normalization of our
relations with Vietnam.
It need not have come this far, and would not have come this far,
were it not for the support of Americans who once served in Vietnam in
another time, and for another purpose--to defend freedom. The wounds of
war, of lost friends and battles gone wrong, took decades to heal. It
took some time for me, as it did for Pete Peterson, John Kerry, Chuck
Hagel, and many other veterans, just as it took some time for America,
to understand that while some losses in war are never recovered, the
enmity and despair that we felt over those losses need not be our
I have memories of a place so far removed from the comforts of this
blessed country that I have forgotten some of the anguish it once
brought me. But that is not to say that my happiness with these last,
nearly thirty years, has let me forget the friends who did not come
home with me. The memory of them, of what they bore for honor and
country, still causes me to look in every prospective conflict for the
shadow of Vietnam. But we must not let that shadow hold us in fear from
our duty, as we have been given light to see that duty.
The people we serve expect us to act in the best interests of this
nation. And the nation's best interests are poorly served by
perpetuating a conflict that claimed a sad chapter of our history, but
ought not hold a permanent claim on our future.
I supported normalizing our relations with Vietnam for a number of
reasons, not the least of which was that I could no longer see the
benefit of fighting about it. America has a long, accomplished, and
honorable history. We did not need to let this one mistake, terrible
though it was, color our perceptions forever of our national
institutions and our nation's purpose in the world.
We were a good country before Vietnam, and we are a good country
after Vietnam. In all the annals of history, you cannot find a better
one. Vietnam did not destroy us or our historical reputation. All these
years later, I think the world has come to understanding that as well.
It was important to learn the lessons of our mistakes in Vietnam so
that we can avoid repeating them. But having learned them, we had to
bury our dead and move on.
But then Vietnam was not a memory shared by veterans or politicians
alone. The legacy of our experiences in Vietnam influenced America
profoundly. Our losses there, the loss of so many fine young Americans
and the temporary loss of our national sense of purpose--stung all of
us so sharply that the memory of our pain long outlasted the security
and political consequences of our defeat. And for too many, for too
long, Vietnam was a war that would not end.
But it is over now, a fact I believe the other body's overwhelming
vote on this bilateral trade agreement, and the surprising lack of
controversy it engenders, indicates. America has moved on, as has
Vietnam. Our duty and our interests demand that we not allow lingering
bitterness to dictate the terms of our relationships with other
nations. We have found in the new, post-cold-war era, a place of
friendship for an adversary from an earlier time. I am very proud of
America, and of the good men and women who serve her, for that
We looked back in anger at Vietnam long enough. And we cannot allow
any lingering resentments we incurred during our time in Vietnam to
prevent us from doing what is so clearly in our duty: to help build
from the losses and hopes of our tragic war in Vietnam a better peace
for both the American and Vietnamese people.
This trade agreement between our nations cements the relationship
with Vietnam we have been building all these years, since we decided to
put the war behind us. In approving this agreement, Vietnam's leaders
have gambled their nation's future on a strong relationship with us,
and on freeing their people from the shackles of international
isolation and the command economy they once knew.
History shows that nations exposed to our values and infused with the
day-to-day freedoms of an open economy become more susceptible to the
influence of our values, and increasingly expect to enjoy them
themselves. In choosing to deepen their nation's relationship with the
United States, Vietnam's leaders have made a wise choice that will
benefit their people. In choosing to deepen America's relationship with
Vietnam, we have thrown our support to the Vietnamese people, and cast
our bet that freedom is contagious.
We do not reward Hanoi by voting for this trade agreement today. In
doing so, we advance our interests in Vietnam even as we expose its
people to the forces that will continue to change Vietnam for the
better. The change its people have witnessed over the past decade has
been dramatic. This trade agreement will accelerate positive change.
This is a welcome development for all Vietnamese, and for all
Madam President, I yield the floor.
Mrs. LINCOLN. Madam President, I thank the Senator from Arizona for
his wisdom and the thoughtfulness that he brings to this body. I
appreciate it very much.
Mr. McCAIN. I thank the Senator.
Mrs. LINCOLN. Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. CARPER. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent the order for
the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Stabenow). Without objection, it is so
Mr. CARPER. Madam President, I rise today in strong support of the
resolution that is before us.
The first time I saw Vietnam was from a P-3 naval aircraft about 31
years ago this year. Twenty-one years would actually pass from that
time before I set foot on Vietnamese soil. Many times in the early
1970s my aircrew and I flew over Vietnam, around Vietnam, and landed in
bases in that region. I never set foot on Vietnamese soil until 1991.
At that time, I was a Member of the House of Representatives and led
a congressional delegation that included five other United States
Representatives, all of whom served in Southeast Asia during the
Vietnam war. We went at a time when many believed that U.S. soldiers,
sailors, and airmen were being held--after the end of the war--in
prison camps. We went there to find out the truth as best we could.
What we encountered, to our surprise, was a welcoming nation. We
visited not only Vietnam but Cambodia and Laos. In Vietnam, we found,
to our surprise, a welcoming nation. Most of the people who live in
Vietnam are people who were born since 1975, since the Government of
South Vietnam fell to the North.
For the most part--not everyone--but for the most part, they like
Americans, admire Americans, and want to have normal relations with our
Our delegation also included U.S. Congressman Pete Peterson from
Florida. Our delegation took with us, to those three nations, a
roadmap, a roadmap that could lead to normalized relations between the
United States and, particularly, Vietnam.
Our offer was that if the Vietnamese would take certain steps,
particularly with respect to providing information in allowing us
access to information about our missing in action, we would reciprocate
and take other steps as well.
We laid out the roadmap. We assured the Vietnamese that if they were
to do certain things, we would not move the goalposts but we would
reciprocate. They did those certain things, and we reciprocated. In
1994, former President Clinton lifted the trade embargo between our two
Think back. It has been 50 years, this year, since the United States
has had normal trade relations with Vietnam--50 years. In 1994, the
embargo, which had been in place for a number of years, was lifted.
I had the opportunity to go back to Vietnam a few years ago as
Governor of Delaware. I led a trade delegation to that country. What I
saw in 1999 surprised me just as much as being surprised when we were
welcomed in 1991.
I will never forget driving from the airport to downtown Hanoi and
being struck by the number of small businesses that had cropped up on
either side of the highway that we traversed. It was a fairly long
drive, and everywhere we looked small businesses had popped up to
provide a variety of services and goods to the people.
The Government leaders with whom we met talked about free enterprise.
They talked about how the marketplace, and finding ways to use the
marketplace, might allow them to better meet the needs of their
citizens, how it would enable them to become a more important trading
partner in that part of the world, and for them to be a nation with
less poverty and with greater opportunities for their own citizens.
Vietnam today is either the 12th or 13th most populous nation in the
world. Some 80 million people live there. There are a number of reasons
why I believe this resolution is in our interest, and I will get into
those reasons in a moment, but I want to take a moment and read the
actual text of this resolution. It is not very long. It says:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled,
That the Congress approves the extension of
nondiscriminatory treatment with respect to the products of
the Socialist Republic of Vietnam transmitted by the
President to the Congress on June 8, 2001.
Negotiations on the bilateral trade agreement before us began in 1996
or 1997. We have been at this for almost 5 years. It was negotiated by
Pete Peterson who became our Ambassador and was part of our
congressional delegation 10 years ago. Pete did a wonderful job as
Ambassador, and I give him a lot of credit for having hammered out the
provisions of this bilateral trade agreement.
The agreement was concluded a year ago in an earlier administration
and has been sent to us by President Bush for our consideration. There
are a number of reasons that former President Clinton and his
administration thought this was a good idea for America. There are a
number of similar reasons that President Bush and his administration
believe this agreement is a good one for America.
First, it acknowledges that Vietnam is a big country, a populous
country, and one that is going to play an ever
more important role in that part of the world and in the world. It has
80 million people, mostly under the age of 30, for the most part people
who like us, admire us, who want to have a good relationship with the
United States despite our very troubled relations over the last half
Those markets that now exist in Vietnam have not been especially open
to us. Sure, we have had the ability to sell over the years more and
more goods and services, including a fair amount of high-technology
equipment and goods. They now sell a number of items to us. We buy
those. But they have in place barriers to our exports, and we have
barriers to their exports. We will create jobs in this country, and
they will create jobs in their country, if we will lift the import
restrictions here and there, reduce the quotas dramatically and the
tariffs. This provision does that, not just for them but for us. To the
extent that we can sell more goods and services there, we benefit as a
nation, and we will.
A number of countries in that part of the world do not respect
intellectual property rights. Vietnam is not among the worst offenders
in that regard. But there are problems in this respect. This agreement
will take us a lot closer to where we need to be in protecting
intellectual property rights, not just of Americans but of others
around the world.
On my last visit to Vietnam, in the meetings we had with their
business and government leaders, we talked a lot about transparency and
how difficult it was for those who would like to invest in Vietnam, do
business in Vietnam, to go through their bureaucracy. Their bureaucrats
make ours look like pikers. They are world class in terms of throwing
up roadblocks and making things difficult for investment to occur. This
agreement won't totally end that, but it will sure go a long way toward
permitting the kind of investments American companies want to make and
ought to be able to make in Vietnam and, similarly, to reciprocate and
provide their business people, their companies, the opportunity to
invest in the United States.
There is something to be said for regional stability as well. Vietnam
can contribute to regional stability if their economy strengthens and
they move toward a more free market system. Or they can be a
contributor to destabilization. This agreement will better ensure they
are a more stable country and able to promote stability within the
Others have raised concerns today about alleged continuing abuses in
human rights and the denial of freedom of religion, insufficient
progress toward democratization. There is more than a grain of truth to
some of that. Religious leaders are not given the kinds of freedoms
that our leaders have. The Vatican declared last year that as far as
they are concerned, freedom to worship is no longer a problem in
Vietnam. They open kindergartens now and they teach the catechisms as
much as they are taught here in Catholic-sponsored kindergartens. When
I was there in 1991, they still had reeducation camps. They no longer
have those. They have been replaced for the most part by drug
Much has been made today of the reaction of the Vietnamese to the
horrors here 22 days ago, September 11. The truth is, the Vietnamese
press has been overwhelmingly sympathetic to the American people and to
those who lost loved ones on September 11. Their government leaders
provided, literally within days, a letter of deep condolences to our
President to express their abhorrence for what happened in our Nation.
With respect to terrorism, if anything, Ambassador Peterson shares
with me that they have been helpful to us in working on terrorist
activities and providing not only information that is valuable to us
but giving us the opportunity to reciprocate. He suggests they may have
actually been a better partner at this transfer of information than we
Finally, the freedom to emigrate. I recall 10 years ago there were
difficulties people encountered trying to emigrate to this country or
other countries from Vietnam. Today, for the most part, passports are
easily obtained. If a person wants to go to to Australia, to the
Philippines, to the United States, if they don't have criminal records
or other such problems in their portfolio, they are able to get those
passports and travel.
Let me conclude with this thought: I think in my lifetime, the
defining issue for my generation, certainly one of the defining issues,
has been our animosity toward Vietnam, the war we fought with Vietnam,
a war which tore our country apart. That war officially ended 26 years
ago. A long healing process has been underway since then in Vietnam and
also in this country.
We have come a long way in that relationship over the last 26 years.
So have the Vietnamese. We have the potential today to take that last
step in normalizing relations, and that is a step we ought to take.
Vietnam today is no true democracy. They still have their share of
problems. So do we, and so does the rest of the world. But I am
convinced that if we adopt this resolution and agree to this bilateral
trade agreement, it will move Vietnam a lot further and a lot faster
down the road to a true free enterprise system. With those economic
freedoms will come, more surely and more quickly, the kind of political
freedoms we value and would want for their people just as much we
cherish for our people.
With those thoughts in mind, I conclude by saying to our old
colleague--the Presiding Officer also served with Congressman
Peterson--later the first United States Ambassador to Vietnam: I will
never forget when I visited him a year or two ago on our trade mission,
he and his wife Vi were good enough to host a dinner for our delegation
at the residence of the Ambassador. And as we drove to the Embassy the
next day, we drove by the old Hanoi Hotel. The idea that an American
flier who had spent 6 and a half years as a prisoner of war in the
Hanoi Hotel would return 25, 30 years later to be America's first
Ambassador to that country in half a century, the idea that that kind
of transformation could occur was moving to me then, and it is today.
There is another kind of transformation that has occurred in our
relationship with Vietnam and within Vietnam as well, a good
transformation, a positive transformation, one that we can reaffirm and
strengthen by a positive vote today.
I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Mexico is recognized.
Mr. BINGAMAN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that I be
allowed to speak as in morning business for up to 6 minutes.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
(The remarks of Mr. Bingaman are printed in today's Record under
Mr. BINGAMAN. Mr. President, I rise today in strong support of H.J.
Res. 51, the Vietnam Trade Act, which would extend normal trade
relations to the nation of Vietnam. I know there is limited time
available on this issue today, so I will keep my comments short and to
Let me begin by clarifying what this agreement actually does. Simply
put, the purpose of this trade agreement is to normalize trade
relations between the United States and Vietnam. At present, Vietnam is
one of only a handful of countries in the world that do not receive
what is called normal trade relations status from the United States.
Under this agreement, the United States will obtain a range of
significant advantages in the Vietnamese market it does not have at
this time, examples being; access to key sectors, including goods,
services and agriculture; protection for investment and intellectual
property, transparency in laws and regulations, and a lowering of
tariffs on products. For the United States, this agreement translates
into a unique opportunity for American companies to enter a country
with significant development needs. It means sales across the board in
the consumer market, sales in infrastructure development, and sales in
government procurement. Importantly, it means that we will now be able
to compete on equal footing with other foreign countries, all of which
trade with Vietnam on ``normal'' terms and many of which already have a
significant presence in that country.
For Vietnam, this agreement translates into a substantial decrease in
tariffs on products it can send to the United States and a tangible
opportunity for export-led economic growth
now and in the future. It gives Vietnam and its people, more than half
of which are under the age of 25, a very real chance to obtain the
level of prosperity, security, and stability that it has desired for
nearly a half a century. It means an increased standard of living, an
increased exchange of ideas with the world, and an increased
integration of Vietnam's institutions with the international system.
Most of all, it means positive and peaceful political economic change
in a country that has suffered tremendously for far too long.
Let us not lose sight of this last point, because much like the U.S.-
Jordan free trade agreement, the U.S.-Vietnam bilateral trade agreement
has a larger geo-political context. In 1995, after years of lingering
animosity between our two countries, the United States and Vietnam made
a conscious and, I think, an extremely wise decision to take a
different and far more constructive path in our relations. For many,
this decision was also difficult and even controversial as there was a
number of critical issues that they felt remained unresolved.
These issues--the POW/MIAs, religious freedom, human rights, labor
rights, and so on--are not going away quickly. I have thought about
them carefully and at length as I decided whether or not I would
support this legislation. I do not want to underestimate or, even
worse, ignore the fact that Vietnam has a very long way to go when it
comes to the rights and liberties that we in our country consider
But I also feel that this comes down to the question of how change is
going to occur. Does it occur through engagement or isolation?
Based on the evidence I have seen, both in the case of Vietnam and
with other countries, I am convinced it is far more productive to
integrate Vietnam into our system of norms, values, and rules--pull it
into the common tent where we can talk to government officials and
private citizens on a regular basis on the issues that matter to us all
than leave it out. I have come to the conclusion that it is far better
to create cooperative mechanisms to discuss issues like forced child
labor, or environmental degradation, or trafficking in women, or
international trade than to ostracize Vietnam and wonder why change is
not occurring. I think it is essential that the United States interact
regularly and intensively with Vietnam. Our goal should be to integrate
Vietnam fully into the collective institutions of East Asia and the
international community. Only through this effort will we see
incremental but steady reform and progress occur.
Let me say in conclusion that Vietnam is changing in dramatic,
important, and, I believe, irreversible ways. I believe this trade
agreement will not only accelerate and expand that change, but it will
also create a strong, mutually beneficial relationship between the
United States and Vietnam. I want to thank all my colleagues who have
played an integral role in drafting this legislation. I am convinced it
will have a profound and lasting effect on Vietnam, on the region of
East Asia as a whole, and on U.S.-Vietnam relations. Our countries have
come a long way, and I am extremely encouraged to see that we have put
old and counterproductive animosities aside to take a very positive
step forward into the future.
Mr. ALLEN. Mr. President, I rise in support of the United States-
Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement. I believe this agreement will help
transform Vietnam's economy into one that is more open and transparent,
expand economic freedom and opportunities for Vietnam's people and
foster a more open society.
At the same time, I commend my colleague, Senator Bob Smith, for his
efforts to press for consideration of the Vietnam Human Rights Act.
Senator Smith is correct: These two measures should have been
considered in tandem.
A constituent, and friend, of mine is Dr. Quan Nguyen. He is a
respected leader of the Vietnamese community in Virginia. His brother,
Dr. Nguyen Dan Que, is in Vietnam and he is not free. He is the head of
the Non-Violent Movement for Human Rights in Vietnam. He spent 20 years
in Vietnamese prisons because he dared to believe in the concept of
freedom, liberty and democracy. He has been under house arrest since
1999. He lives with two armed guards stationed outside his residence.
His telephone and Internet accounts have been cut off and his mail is
intercepted. Dr. Que has been labeled a common criminal because his
``anti-socialist'' ideas are a crime in Vietnam.
The struggle for freedom of conscience, economic self-sufficiency and
human rights is one that has not ended with the conclusion of the Cold
War. Regimes throughout the world continue in power while denying basic
human rights to their citizens and unjustly imprisoning those who
peacefully disagree with the government. One such place is the
Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
I support increased trade with Vietnam and will vote for this
measure. At the same time, I urge the government of Vietnam to choose
the path of enlightened nations, the path of true freedom, and true
respect for all its citizens and their human rights. Vietnam waits on
the cusp of history, and the choices before it are important choices
between freedom and respect for human rights, or stagnation and
Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, The bilateral trade agreement that the
United States signed with Vietnam in July 2000 represents a milestone
in U.S. relations with Vietnam. Building a foundation for a strong
commercial relationship with Vietnam is not only in our economic
interest, but it is in our security interest and our diplomatic
interest. Vietnam has made comprehensive commitments, which will help
open up Vietnam's market for products produced by U.S. workers,
businesses and farmers. These commitments will not only help pave the
way for changes in the Vietnamese economy, but in Vietnamese society as
While the U.S.-Vietnam bilateral trade agreement is an important step
forward in our diplomatic and commercial relationship, I am
disappointed that the agreement does not address Vietnam's poor record
of enforcing internationally-recognized core labor standards. The
Government of Vietnam continues to deny its citizens the right of
association, allows forced labor, and inadequately enforces its child
labor and worker safety laws. Vietnam's poor labor conditions led
President Clinton to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, with
Vietnam in December 2000. This MOU, pledging U.S. technical assistance
for Vietnam to improve its labor market conditions, is a start, but it
does not require Vietnam to take specific steps to improve enforcement
of existing laws and regulations. More is needed.
I join my colleagues who have been urging the Administration to
commit to enter into a textiles and apparel agreement with Vietnam that
would include positive incentives for Vietnam to improve its labor
conditions, similar to the agreement the U.S. has in place with
Cambodia. Such an agreement is important to maintain a consistent U.S.
trade policy that recognizes the competitive impact of labor market
conditions. Additionally, if the United States fails to enter into a
textile and apparel agreement with Vietnam similar to the agreement
with Cambodia, the agreement with Cambodia may be undermined if
businesses move production to Vietnam at the expense of Cambodia.
The vote today inaugurates an annual review of whether the United
States should extend normal trade relations, NTR, to Vietnam. As
Congress undertakes these annual NTR reviews for Vietnam, we will
closely monitor progress in reaching a textiles and apparel agreement,
and Vietnam's respect for core labor rights.
Mr. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I rise in support of H.J. Res 51,
approving the bilateral trade agreement between the United States and
Vietnam. Our relationship with Vietnam has come far in 25 years. Today,
Vietnam is gradually integrating into the world economy, is a member of
APEC, the ASEAN Free Trade Area and has economic and trade relations
with 165 Countries.
Vietnam has granted normal trade relations to the United States since
1999. At the same time, our cooperative relations with Vietnam on other
matters, including POW issues, has progressed admirably. Establishing
normal trade relations for Vietnam is a logical step in our trade AND
Negotiated over a four-year period, this trade agreement represents
an important series of commitments by Vietnam to reform its economy. It
provides important market access for American companies and is a
crucial step in the process of normalizing relations between the United
States and Vietnam.
There are those in this body who do not believe, as I do, that the
United States and Vietnam are ready to end thirty-five years of
violence and mistrust between our two countries. There are Senators who
believe the great battle between capitalism and communism has yet to be
fully won. There are Senators who believe that our goal should be to
destroy the last vestiges of communism. I am one of those Senators.
I believe that communism belongs, to paraphrase the President in his
remarkable joint address of Congress on September 20, ``in history's
unmarked grave of discarded lies.''
There are those who believe that the best way to make sure the lie of
Vietnamese communism dies is to shun Vietnam, to condition interaction
on a fundamental political shift in Vietnam. In other words, you change
your ways, and then we will engage you. I am not one of those Senators.
I believe that trade is the best vehicle to force political change.
The Vietnamese, like China before it, has gone far down a path of
economic reform. They practice Capitalism and preach Communism.
I believe that capitalism is infectious. I do not believe that
Capitalism and communism can co exist. I believe that the road on which
Vietnam is traveling will inevitably lead to democratic change, and
that its experiment with Communism will die an unlamented death.
Further delay in passing the BTA will harm will delay Vietnam on this
road. The BTA is the right vehicle at the right time for our economic
AND foreign policy priorities.
I urge my colleagues to pass H.J. Res. 51.
Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, the catfish industry in the United States
is being victimized by a fish product from Vietnam that is labeled as
farm-raised catfish. Since 1997, the volume of Vietnamese frozen fish
filets has increased from 500,000 pounds to over 7 million pounds per
U.S. catfish farm production, which is located primarily in
Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Louisiana, accounts for 50 percent
of the total value of all U.S. aquaculture production. Catfish farmers
in the Mississippi Delta region have spent $50 million to establish a
market for North American catfish.
The Vietnamese fish industry is penetrating the United States fish
market by falsely labeling fish products to create the impression they
are farm-raised catfish. The Vietnamese ``basa'' fish that are being
imported from Vietnam are grown in cages along the Mekong River Delta.
Unlike other imported fish, basa fish are imported as an intended
substitute for U.S. farm-raised catfish, and in some instances, their
product packaging imitates U.S. brands and logos. This false labeling
of Vietnamese basa fish is misleading American consumers at
supermarkets and restaurants.
According to a taxonomy analysis from the National Warmwater
Aquaculture Center, the Vietnamese basa fish is not even of the same
family or species as the North American channel catfish.
The trade agreement with Vietnam, unfortunately, will allow the
Vietnamese fish industry to enhance its ability to ship more mislabeled
fish products into this country, and under the procedure for
consideration of this agreement it is not subject to amendment.
However, I hope the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and
Drug Administration will review its previous decisions on this issue
and take steps to ensure the trade practices of the Vietnamese fish
industry are fair and do not mislead American consumers.
Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise today to express my support for
the resolution to approve the bilateral trade agreement signed by the
United States and Vietnam on July 13, 2000. I believe this agreement is
in the best interests of the United States and Vietnam and will do much
to foster the political and economic ties between the two countries.
Under the terms of the agreement, the United States agrees to extend
most-favored nation status to Vietnam, which would significantly reduce
U.S. tariffs on most imports from Vietnam. In return, Vietnam will
undertake a wide range of market-liberalization measures, including
extending MFN treatment to U.S. exports, reducing tariffs, easing
barriers to U.S. services, such as banking and telecommunications,
committing to protect certain intellectual property rights, and
providing additional inducements and protections for inward foreign
These steps will significantly benefit U.S. companies and workers by
opening a new and expanding market for increased exports and
investment. Just as important for the United States, this agreement
will promote economic and political freedom in Vietnam by bringing
Vietnam into the global market economy, tying it to the rule of law,
and increasing the wealth and prosperity of all Vietnamese.
I share the concerns many have expressed about the human rights
situation in Vietnam. No doubt, there is a great deal of room for
improvement. Nevertheless, I am a firm believer in the idea that as you
increase trade, as you increase communication, as you increase exposure
to western and democratic ideals, you increase political pluralism and
respect for human rights. The more you isolate, the greater the chance
for human rights abuses.
I believe the United States will continue to address this issue and
use the closer ties that will come from an expanded economic and
political relationship to press for significant improvement of
Vietnam's human rights record. We owe the people of Vietnam no less. In
addition, as I have stated above, I believe that this agreement will
promote economic opportunity and the rule of law in Vietnam which will
have a positive effect on that country's respect for human rights.
Mr. President, this agreement is another step in the normalization of
relations between the United States and Vietnam that began with the
lifting of the economic embargo in 1994 and the establishment of
diplomatic relations the following year. Let us not take a step
backwards. We have the opportunity today to ensure that this process
continues and the political and economic ties will grow to the benefit
of all Americans and all Vietnamese. I urge my colleagues to support
the resolution to approve the United States-Vietnam trade agreement.
Mr. SMITH of Oregon. Mr. President, I rise today in strong support of
the bilateral trade agreement with Vietnam, this trade agreement will
extend normal trade relations status to Vietnam. This important
legislation enjoys strong bipartisan support, it passed the House of
Representatives by voice vote and implements the comprehensive trade
agreement signed last year.
The United States has extended the Jackson-Vanik waiver to Vietnam
for the past 3 years. This waiver is a prerequisite for Normal Trade
Relations trade status and has allowed American businesses operating in
Vietnam to make use of programs supporting exports and investments to
Vietnam. The passage of this trade agreement completes the
normalization process with Vietnam that has spanned four Presidential
Administrations, and I believe it is a milestone in the strengthening
of our bilateral relations.
I would like to commend our former Ambassador to Vietnam, Pete
Peterson. Ambassador Peterson's tenure as Ambassador was a seminal
period in United States-Vietnamese relations, and he did, by any
standard, an outstanding job in representing the United States.
I believe that this trade agreement will result in significant market
openings for America's companies. In particular, Oregon companies will
benefit from this expansion of trade with Vietnam by having greater
access to Vietnam's market of almost 80 million people, as well as
lower tariffs on Oregon goods. This agreement also gives the United
States greater influence over the pace of economic, political and
social reforms by opening Vietnam to the West. Our goods and our
democratic values will have a strong and lasting impression in that
country. I believe that this agreement will help transform Vietnam into
a more open and
transparent society, expanding economic freedom and opportunities for
the Vietnamese people.
Portland, OR is home to a strong Vietnamese-American community, most
of whom left their homeland as refugees decades ago. Oregon welcomed
these people with open arms and their tight-knit community have become
highly sought after workers and valued American citizens. I hope that
this step towards better relations will bring about true economic and
social reforms to their homeland, as well as faith in their new
country's ability to share western values abroad.
I applaud the Administration for its work on this trade effort and
for its work in rebuilding relations between the United States and
Vietnam. In particular, the work of the Department of Defense in
solving unresolved MIA cases in Vietnam has been outstanding. The
devotion to the goal of repatriating MIAs to the United States has
provided a sense of closure to many American families who experienced a
loss decades ago.
I would like to thank my colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee
for the timely disposition of this trade agreement, and I look forward
to working with the Vietnamese people to bring further economic and
political reforms to their country.
Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, today, the Senate takes a significant
step toward opening Vietnamese markets to America's farmers and
workers, normalizing our relations with Vietnam, and reaffirming our
commitment to engage, and not retreat from, the rest of the world.
H.J. Res. 51, the Vietnam Trade Act, is the result of nearly five
years of negotiations. It will put into action the landmark trade
agreement that was signed last summer by the United States and Vietnam.
A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Vietnam. I
remember the warmth with which we were greeted by nearly everyone we
met. I especially remember a girl I met one morning on a street in
Hanoi. She couldn't have been more than 12 or 13 years old, and she was
selling old postcards of different places all over the world.
I offered to buy the one postcard she had from America.
She shook her head and said, ``No, won't sell . . . America.'' To
her, that postcard was priceless. It represented a place of freedom and
This trade agreement will allow US goods and services to enter
Vietnam. Just as important, it will allow American ideals to flow more
freely into that nation. It will help that young woman, and the 60
percent of all Vietnamese who were born after the war, create a freer
and more prosperous Vietnam.
Instead of holding onto that old, tattered postcard, she will be able
to grasp real freedom and opportunity. That will help both of our
I want to thank the many people who made this agreement possible:
Ambassador Pete Peterson and the trade negotiators in the Clinton
Administration; President Bush, who has pressed for this act's
completion; Chairman Baucus and Senator Grassley, who have worked
together to bring this bill to the floor; and, four senators whose war
stories are well known, and whose service to this country is
unparalleled. This trade agreement would not have been possible without
the courageous leadership of John Kerry, John McCain, Chuck Hagel, and
This is the most comprehensive bilateral trade agreement ever
negotiated by the U.S. with a Jackson-Vanik country.
It demands that Vietnam provide greater access to their markets,
provide greater protection for intellectual property rights, and
modernize business practices.
The result will be new markets, and new opportunities, for our
companies, farmers and workers.
This trade deal is far more than just a commercial pact. It is
another step in the long road toward normalizing relations between our
We all know where our countries were, and how far we have come.
For people like John McCain and John Kerry, for all of us who served
during the Vietnam War era, we came of age knowing Vietnam as an
In the years since, we've been able to open lines of communication.
We've worked to provide a full accounting of American prisoners of war
and those missing in action, and we are cooperating on research into
the health and environmental effects of Agent Orange.
Today, we take another step toward making Vietnam a partner.
In exchange for serious economic reform and increased transparency,
this agreement normalizes the economic relationship between our
Those reforms, in turn, will give Vietnam the opportunity to
integrate into regional and global institutions. And they will give the
Vietnamese people a chance to know greater freedoms and a more open
We are clear-eyed about Vietnam's problems. The State Department
found again this year that the Vietnamese government's human rights
record is poor. Religious persecution and civil rights abuses are still
rampant throughout the country.
In pressing forward today, we are not condoning this behavior. To the
contrary, we are calling on the Vietnam government to fulfill its
commitments for greater freedom.
And we are pledging to hold them to that commitment.
Finally, the Vietnam Trade Act is also a reaffirmation of America's
continued international leadership.
Last spring, when this resolution was introduced in the Senate, I
said that its passage would send a signal to the world that the United
States is committed to engaging with countries around the globe by
using our mutual interests as a foundation for working through our
In the wake of September 11, this engagement is more important than
ever, and since that time we have: overwhelmingly approved the Jordan
Free Trade Act, the first ever U.S. free trade agreement with an Arab
country; taken another step to make right our dues at the United
Nations; and, begun building an unprecedented international coalition
Final passage of this agreement will send an additional message to
the global community that the United States cannot, and will not, be
scared into its borders.
We will not close up shop.
And to that young girl in Hanoi, and all who share her hopes, we say
that we will not be content to defend our freedoms solely within our
borders. We will continue to be a light to all who look to us for hope.
We will not retreat from the world. We will lead it.
This is a good resolution. And it allows us to begin implementing a
good agreement. I urge my colleagues to support it.
Mr. NELSON of Florida. Mr. President, I rise today in support of the
Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement. This agreement paves the way for
improved relations between the United States and Vietnam, and will
improve overall economic and political conditions in both countries. I
would like to say a few words about a man who was an integral part of
negotiating this agreement, Ambassador Douglas ``Pete'' Peterson. Many
people in Florida are familiar with the heroic deeds and leadership of
Pete Peterson. It is fitting and proper that we, in this body,
recognize his exemplary service to our country.
Pete Peterson was a young Air Force pilot when he was shot down,
captured, and held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam where he remained
for 6\1/2\ years. He was regularly interrogated, isolated, and
tortured. Very few POWs were held longer. His example of perseverance
under the most horrible conditions and circumstances is one that cannot
be easily comprehended, but is one that we must regard with immense
Pete Peterson was not deterred by his horrific experience in Hanoi
and continued his service in the Air Force. He went on to complete 26
years of service, retiring as a colonel. He distinguished himself as a
leader in Florida, and was elected to represent the second
congressional district of Florida in 1990.
After serving three terms in the U.S. Congress, Pete became the U.S.
first post-war Ambassador to Vietnam. I have known Pete for many years,
and he made a comment about his tour as Ambassador to Vietnam, which I
believe, is indicative of his commitment to service, ``How often does
one have the chance to return to a place where
you suffered and try to make things right?''
Pete Peterson made things right. One step toward doing so was the
Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement. This was Pete's top trade priority,
but it was much more. It was an important part of normalizing relations
with Vietnam, including political and economic reform, as well as
working to improve human rights. Only someone of Pete Peterson's
caliber could have successfully represented the United States during
the challenging period of normalizing relations and healing between our
nations. Only someone of his patriotism, honor, and integrity could
have played such a prominent role in achieving this trade agreement.
This agreement will increase market access for American products and
improve economic conditions in Vietnam as well as the climate for
investors in Vietnam
Now we still have some work to do. I know the Commission on
International Religious Freedom has been critical of Vietnam, and I was
disappointed to see some of the comments that came out of Hanoi in the
wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11. However, only through
engagement and cooperative efforts can we most effectively press
Vietnam to continue to respect human rights and continue political and
economic reform. That is why Pete Peterson should be recognized and
thanked here today. I yield the floor.
Mr. BAUCUS. Madam President, what is the parliamentary position?
The PRESIDING OFFICER. H.J. Res. 51 is pending.
Mr. BAUCUS. Madam President, is there an agreement when a vote will
The PRESIDING OFFICER. A vote will occur at 2 p.m.
Mr. BAUCUS. Seeing a vote is about to occur, I will be with you very
fast track legislation
Mr. BAUCUS. I am encouraged by the beginnings of bipartisan action
from the House on fast-track legislation, otherwise known as trade
promotion authority. We have a little ways to go, but I am very
encouraged by the beginnings of a bipartisan agreement in the other
body. It is my hope there can be more bipartisan agreement than there
has been thus far.
We want a bill to pass the House with as many votes as possible.
Obviously, granting fast-track authority, granting trade promotion to
the President by the Congress, if it passes by an extraordinarily large
margin, will be helpful in negotiating the SALT trade agreement with
If the House does pass this bill, the Senate Finance Committee will
take up the bill and hopefully bring the bill to the floor and get it
passed. The key is in the spirit of the bipartisanship and cooperation,
which has been tremendous, that has occurred since September 11. There
is an opportunity for continued bipartisan agreement in the trade bill.
I am very pleased to say there has been such cooperation in
Washington, DC--both Houses, both political parties, both ends of
Pennsylvania Avenue. There is an opportunity here for that same spirit
of cooperation to continue on the trade bill. If it does, we will get
it passed earlier rather than later.
I see 2 o'clock has arrived.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. All time has expired.
Mr. BAUCUS. Madam President, I ask for the yeas and nays.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?
There is a sufficient second.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
The joint resolution was ordered to a third reading and was read the
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Bayh). The joint resolution having been
read the third time, the question is, shall the joint resolution pass?
The yeas and nays have been ordered. The clerk will call the roll.
The senior assistant bill clerk called the roll.
The result was announced--yeas 88, nays 12, as follows:
[Rollcall Vote No. 291 Leg.]
The joint resolution (H.J. Res. 51) was passed.
Mr. REID. Mr. President, I move to reconsider the vote.
Mr. LOTT. I move to lay that motion on the table.
The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.
Mr. REID. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order
for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.