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USA*Engage, NFTC and Other Leading Trade Associations Call for Congress to Reconsider New Iran Sanctions Bill
Date: 3/6/2007

Letter warns legislation undermines new U.S. diplomatic effort

 

Washington, D.C. – USA*Engage and the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) today called on Congress to oppose H.R. 957, a bill to impose new U.S. unilateral sanctions on a number of companies in Europe and Asia and that would expand the scope of the Iran Sanctions Act. In a letter to Members of Congress, USA*Engage and NFTC joined other business associations, including the Coalition for Employment Through Exports (CEE), the U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) and the Organization for International Investment (OFII), to warn that the bill would compromise ongoing diplomatic efforts.

 

The groups highlighted the potential for legal headaches associated with this type of legislation, which would extend liability for conducting transactions with Iran that are prohibited under U.S. law to subsidiaries of U.S. companies.  The associations observed in the letter that “governments could implement blocking statutes and other measures to counteract the threat of U.S. penalties.”

 

“This type of legislation puts foreign companies between a rock and a hard place – forcing them to comply with often conflicting laws in the U.S. and the country in which they are incorporated,” said Bill Reinsch, President of the NFTC and USA*Engage Co-Chair.

 

The groups argued that the bill would “undercut – not support – ongoing diplomatic efforts to increase worldwide pressure on Iran.” In the letter, they suggested that, “Congress should ensure that the world’s focus remains on applying multilateral pressure on Iran and that the United States and our allies continue to present a united front.”

 

“If enacted, H.R. 957 would damage our relationship with our allies at a time when we need them to generate strong multilateral pressure on Iran,” continued Reinsch.  “By threatening new U.S. sanctions on numerous new European and Asian companies, this bill distracts from the real issue at hand – the behavior of the Iranian government.”

 

“The Administration’s intentions to participate in regional talks with Iran is a welcome sign and should be given every opportunity to succeed,” said Jake Colvin, Director of USA*Engage.  “Right now, engaging Iran diplomatically is more constructive than charging ahead with threats of new extraterritorial sanctions,” he concluded.

 

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USA*Engage (www.usaengage.org) is a coalition of small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad. Established in 1997 and organized under the National Foreign Trade Council (www.nftc.org), USA*Engage leads a campaign to inform policy-makers, opinion-leaders, and the public about the counterproductive nature of unilateral sanctions, the importance of exports and overseas investment for American competitiveness and jobs, and the role of American companies in promoting human rights and democracy world wide.

 

The National Foreign Trade Council (www.nftc.org) is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.