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USA*Engage and NFTC Express Concern Over Committee Approval of Sudan Divestment Bill
Date: 10/17/2007

Washington DC – USA*Engage and the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) today released a statement expressing concern over the Senate Banking Committee’s approval of the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act.

“The NFTC fully supports efforts to bring peace and stability to Darfur, but encouraging states and local governments to levy sanctions against Sudan is not the answer,” said Bill Reinsch, President of NFTC and Co-Chair of USA*Engage. “The Senate Banking Committee has made significant improvements in the House-passed version of the bill, but we continue to believe that it is in the best interest of the United States and our allies for the federal government to set foreign policy, not states.”

“Before taking any further action, we urge Members to take a careful look at the legislation, think through the long term implications of subcontracting foreign policy to the states, and thoroughly examine the bill’s provisions to ensure that they are in line with U.S. foreign policy objectives, and that they provide sufficient latitude to allow the President to conduct an effective foreign policy,” concluded Reinsch.

In August 2006, the NFTC brought suit against the state of Illinois, challenging the constitutionality of the state’s Act to End Terrorism and Atrocities in the Sudan. On February 23, 2007, the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to deemed the law unconstitutional. The NFTC lawsuit followed the precedent set in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2000 decision in Crosby v. NFTC, in which the Court struck down sanctions enacted by Massachusetts on Burma.  In that decision the Court ruled that if the federal government has enacted sanctions on a country, state and local governments are preempted from imposing sanctions of their own. 

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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.