Govs. Lowry and Edgar head Pro-China MFN letter to Congressional leadership

OLYMPIA, Wash. and SPRINGFIELD, Ill - Governors Mike Lowry, D-Wash., and Jim Edgar, R-Ill., today released a letter signed by a majority of the nation's governors supporting unconditional renewal of Most Favored Nation (MFN) status for the People's Republic of China. The governors signing the letter represent each state west of the Mississippi, except one, and are the chief executives of states producing more than 80 percent of the nation's exports.

On June 4, President Clinton signed an executive order extending China's MFN status for another year. Under current law, Congress has 60 days to reverse the president's decision. The governors' letter urges Congress to join them in supporting former Sen. Dole's and President Clinton's bipartisan efforts to renew MFN status for China. They pointed out that MFN status only means that China will have the benefit of "normal" treatment when exporting to this country, and does not give Chinese exporters preferential treatment when trading with the United States.

"Revoking MFN would not advance human rights in China," Lowry said. "In fact, it could damage our economy, cost American jobs, and perhaps start a ruinous trade war between our two countries. The best way to advance our ideas and values with China is by maintaining a dialogue. Increased trade and communications between our two nations has been beneficial to the Chinese people, precisely because we did not cut off trade and commercial contacts with China after Tiananmen Square."

Edgar emphasized that "unconditional renewal of MFN is the best way of advancing America's strategic and economic interests. China represents the world's largest consumer market, and bilateral free trade with China has been good for the U.S. In addition, non-renewal would harm Hong Kong, which is reverting to Chinese control, and would also harm Taiwan, whose economy depends heavily upon trade and investment with China."

Washington and Illinois are two of the most trade-dependent states in the country, and Govs. Lowry and Edgar are viewed as "trade governors" by their peers. Two years ago they organized a coalition of more than 40 governors who endorsed the signing of the GATT agreement and the creation of the World Trade Organization.


For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790 or Bob Randolph, Washington State Special Trade Representative, at 206-464-7143.