[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]

Massachusetts, U.S. Officials Discu

Subject: Massachusetts, U.S. Officials Discuss Burma Sanction Bill

                                The Boston Globe

                    April  16, 1997, Wednesday, City Edition


HEADLINE: State, US officials discuss  Burma  sanctions bill

BYLINE: By Frank Phillips, Globe Staff

    The chief sponsor of the controversial Massachusetts law imposing sanctions 
on military-ruled  Burma  said a meeting yesterday with Clinton administration
trade officials did nothing to persuade him to water down the statute.

   Representative Byron Rushing, a Democrat from the South End, said the
three-person delegation from the US Trade Representative's office and State
Department did not try to pressure him or the Legislature to back off the
sanctions bill, which has created an international furor among American

trading partners.

   Rushing said that the three - who also met with House Speaker Thomas M.
Finneran, a top economic aide to Governor William F. Weld, and other lawmakers -
outlined the administration's concerns that the law violated international trade

   "Nothing was said in these conversations that convinced me we should change
our position or we should urge the Legislature to do anything different," he

   The law forbids the state from awarding contracts to companies doing business
in  Burma,  whose nine-year-old military junta has been assailed for repressing 
democracy, and requires state pension funds to divest themselves of stock in
companies that do business there.

   Weld yesterday said the European Union and Japan have raised a "straight
legal question . . . a non-frivolous issue" of whether the US Constitution takes
precedence over Massachusetts foreign policy measures.

   "I don't blame the EU or Japan for wanting to put it on the table," Weld
said, adding that he had spoken to US Trade Representative Charlene

and offered to help her office defend state law to the World Trade Organization.

   The EU and Japan, under pressure from multinational corporations, told the
Clinton administration that if Massachusetts does not back off on its  Burma 
law within four weeks, they will begin a formal protest to the World Trade
Organization. They contend the law discriminates against businesses from their

   Also pending in Massachusetts is a bill imposing similar sanctions on
companies doing business in Indonesia, which is facing criticism for its
suppression of political opposition in East Timor.