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Committee Endorses Clinton Waiver

July 10, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Senate Finance Committee voted 14-1 today to endorse President Clinton’s efforts to create normal trade relations with Vietnam.

The move stymied an attempt by Sens. Bob Smith, R-N.H., and Jesse Helms, R-N.C., to overturn Clinton’s action. On June 3 he issued a waiver exempting Vietnam from the 1974 Jackson-Vanik law, which imposed trade restrictions on communist governments as a penalty for limiting emigration.

The law allows a president to waive the restriction if he determines it would entice the other government to allow freer emigration.

Clinton has granted a waiver under the same law to China to renew ``most-favored-nation″ trade benefits. The China waiver is not due for congressional votes until later this month.

Administration officials said that although Vietnam still has repressive policies, more than 480,000 Vietnamese have legally entered the United States since 1979.

With the waiver, Vietnam would become eligible to participate in U.S. export promotion and investment support programs, including those of the Export-Import Bank. This is expected to help American companies operating in Vietnam to compete more effectively.

At a hearing earlier this week, Smith suggested that ``basic human rights are still being denied″ in Vietnam and that Congress should block the move. But backers of the effort said it was time to move forward to try to establish normal ties with the former communist enemy.

The only committee member voting against the measure was Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, D-Ill. She has complained that U.S. policy on human rights holds up different standards for Asian nations and those in Africa. ``There does not appear to be a lot of consistency,″ she said.

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