- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2000

Dumping on Byrd

Brazilian Ambassador Rubens Barbosa yesterday accused Sen. Robert C. Byrd of taking advantage of congressional rules to push through legislation that protects the steel industry from foreign competition.

The measure sponsored by the West Virginia Democrat is a "serious violation of U.S. obligations in the World Trade Organization and nothing more than a subsidy to the U.S. steel industry," Mr. Barbosa said in a statement.

Mr. Barbosa also expressed disappointment that President Clinton this week signed a bill that included the Byrd amendment, which is designed to provide relief against foreign firms "dumping" goods in the United States at below-market rates. U.S. companies would be compensated through revenues collected from anti-dumping duties.

The ambassador complained that Mr. Byrd took advantage of congressional rules and Congress' rush toward adjournment.

Mr. Byrd could not be reached for comment.

"This is too important a matter to have passed Congress without any deliberations and without any apparent consideration of the consequences," Mr. Barbosa said.

"We are disappointed that the president chose not to veto the bill under these circumstances. "This is simply the most recent in a series of actions on behalf of U.S. steel interests that raise questions about whether the U.S. intends to ignore its international obligations in favor of special interest lobbying by the steel industry."

Mr. Barbosa also said the amendment "creates serious problems for the U.S. with its principal trading partners and ultimately will be a setback to the ability of the U.S. to play a leadership role in the trade area."

Mr. Barbosa is the latest ambassador to complain about the anti-dumping measure.

Canadian Ambassador Michael Kergin, Japanese Ambassador Shunji Yanai and European Union Ambassador Gunter Burghardt urged Mr. Clinton to veto the bill in a letter last week.

"We are writing to you as the diplomatic representatives of the most important partners of the United States in the World Trade Organization," they said.

Working Texas

Jesus Reyes-Heroles is campaigning hard in Texas for business, not votes.

The Mexican ambassador, like every other foreign diplomat here, is preparing for a change in the U.S. government.

What better place to start than the home state of George W. Bush.

Mr. Reyes-Heroles, on a two-day visit to the Dallas-Fort Worth area this week, noted that the Mexican president-elect, Vicente Fox, and the next American president will take office about the same time next year.

"We should build upon our institutional framework and take advantage of the fact that new administrations will be inaugurated in the two countries at the same time. We only have this chance every twelve years," he said.

Mexican presidents serve one six-year term and cannot run for re-election.

Mr. Reyes-Heroles met with the southwest chapter of the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce and the Dallas Committee on Foreign Relations. The Texas business executives told him they want closer links with Mexico and its growing economy.

"We have grown 5 percent on average over the last five years, and for the first time, we have reached our goal of creating 1 million new jobs a year," he said.

The business leaders were also interested in the dramatic change in Mexican politics. Mr. Fox of the National Action Party defeated the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ruled Mexico for 71 years.

Nigerian visas

A top State Department official is expected to visit Nigeria this month to discuss problems Nigerians have obtaining U.S. visas.

Susan Rice, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, will meet top government officials to discuss ways of improving the visa service, the Nigerian Foreign Ministry said this week.

No date was announced for the visit.

A Foreign Ministry official told the Agence France-Presse news agency that Nigerian authorities raised the visa issue when President Clinton visited the west African nation in August.

Many Nigerians have accused the U.S. Embassy of unfairly rejecting their visa requests.

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