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By Zaidy Dandan

SAIPAN, CNMI (March 26, 1999 - Marianas Variety)---Saying that the time has come to "shut down the scam (on) Saipan," a U.S. House (of Representatives) Republican is asking his colleagues to cosponsor legislation that would prohibit local garment producers from using the "Made in USA" label and enjoying duty free privileges.

U.S. Congressman Bob Franks (R-New Jersey), in a "Dear Republican Colleague" letter, said "Communist Chinese…sweat shops (with) abused and ill-treated indentured labor" are taking advantage of a "legal loophole" that allows them to ship $1 billion worth of garment products into the mainland U.S. duty free "as if they were actually made by American citizens -- at a cost to taxpayers of over $200 million a year!"

Franks said allowing CNMI garment products the use of "Made in USA" labels is "an outrageous tax-payer and consumer rip off."

Citing a report from Insight Magazine of the conservative Washington Times, Franks said the "scam" is estimated to destroy some 20,000 American jobs a year.

The damage to our economy is accelerating dramatically," he said. "Imports from Saipan are growing at the astounding rate of 45 percent a year -- fueled predominantly by loopholes in U.S. law that encourage U.S. consumer deception and taxpayer abuse by foreign interests."

Franks said his bill, "The Made in USA Label Protection Act of 1999," seeks to "stop an outrageous scam that is hurting American consumers, ripping off American tax payers and destroying tens of thousands of American jobs."

Franks made no mention of "reforming the CNMI’s labor and immigration policies by extending appropriate federal laws as proposed by the only other pending bill in the U.S. House that would directly affect the islands’ garment industry -- H.R. 730, which is co-sponsored by U.S. Representatives George Miller’s (D-California) and John Spratt (D-South Carolina).

A member of the House Budget Committee and of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Franks has been described as a "national leader in promoting revitalization of the manufacturing section of the economy.

He is a recipient of citations from the National Taxpayers’ Union, the Citizens Against Government Waste and the anti-budget deficit Concord Coalition.

For additional reports from the Marianas Variety, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Marianas Variety.

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