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CONGRESSMAN ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD Delegate from Guam U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C.


NEWS RELEASE September 24, 2002


Congressman Robert A. Underwood's effort to stave off the negative effects of the Andean Trade Preferences Expansion Act (ATPEA) on the Republic of the Philippines from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who said the effort saved her nation over 100,000 jobs and as much as $40 million.

In the letter, personally delivered today by Philippine Ambassador Albert del Rosario, the president wrote: "I would like to convey my sincere thanks and those of the people of the Philippines for your understanding and support on the question of the canned tuna in the Andean Trade Preferences Expansion Act (ATPEA). Your consideration of the Philippines during the legislative debate on the effect that the ATPEA would have on Mindanao is profoundly appreciated. Your friendship will remain of great importance as the Philippines and the United States build a stronger alliance in the years ahead."

The ATPEA, made law as part of the Trade Act of 2002, expands trade between the United States and Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, and encourages farmers in those countries to halt production of crops that could be turned into illegal drugs.

The original legislation also sought to grant these countries duty-free access to the U.S. canned tuna market, which would have adversely affected the Philippines, the second largest canned tuna exporter to the United States. Secondarily, since the Philippine canned tuna industry is located on the island of Mindanao, the ATPEA would have had a negative effect on the bilateral counter-terrorism training exercises between the Philippines and the United States.

In order to stop this potential negative economic impact, Congressman Underwood joined a number of colleagues from the House and Senate to scale back the duty-free access provision and to highlight its affect on U.S.-Philippine relations. The effort was successful this summer.

"The extension of duty-free treatment to canned tuna exports from the Andean countries, as originally floated in Congress, would have resulted in serious setbacks for the Philippine canned tuna industry and consequently, the economy of Mindanao," the Congressman said. "It was important that Congress understood this and I am pleased that we found ways to help the Andean countries in their war against drugs by other means than weakening the ability of the United States and the Philippines to combat international terrorism."

The Ambassador and the Congressman also discussed today other legislation important to U.S.-Philippine relations, including the Veterans Health Care and Procurement Improvement Act of 2002, which would require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to furnish hospital and nursing home care and medical services to Commonwealth Army veterans and new Philippine Scouts, and efforts to secure supplemental U.S. foreign aid for the Philippines.

Joseph E. Duenas Special Assistant Office of Congressman Robert A. Underwood, M.C. Guam District Office 120 Father Duenas Ave., Suite 107 Hagåtña, Guam 96910 Phone: (671) 477-4272 Fax: (671) 477-2587

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