WASHINGTON, Dec 13, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Following a three year Freedom of Information Act battle, US Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk has been forced to publicly release a secret report about America’s first bilateral trade agreement. The 1984 report predicted which US industries would be most harmed by massive trade preferences for Israel.
In 2009 the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep), a Washington nonprofit that works to improve policy formulation, sought public release of the report. The USTR refused. IRmep appealed to an outside review panel arguing that declassified FBI files revealed both the Israeli government and American Israel Public Affairs Committee unlawfully obtained the report in 1984. A declassified FBI investigation uncovered AIPAC’s receipt of the report from Israel’s Economics Minister, who refused to divulge how he obtained it. IRmep successfully argued that Americans most harmed by the data theft should also have access to the report.
The International Trade Commission compiled “Probable Economic Effect of Providing Duty-Free Treatment for Imports from Israel” by soliciting confidential business information from all concerned industries. US tomato growers and canners wanted to protect domestic production and jobs while discounting Israel as a significant market for US products. Arkansas bromine producers were concerned that Israel’s state-owned producer would displace private sector US jobs in an economically challenged region.
According to the secret trade report,
“Opposition to the duty-free tariff treatment for jewelry was voiced by the largest national jewelry trade association and several domestic producers…Support for the elimination of jewelry tariffs came from an importer and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee….The implementation of this proposal would eliminate uncertainty about the future of the GSP program, a program which is the key to Israel’s competitiveness in the US market.”
Passage of Israel trade preferences into law in 1985 created a chronic US deficit averaging $10 billion per year. In May of 2011, IRmep’s Center for Policy and Law Enforcement filed a petition with the USTR Section 301 Committee demanding $6.64 billion in compensation for exporters that suffered confidential business information loss to AIPAC and Israel. Although USTR refused to pursue the petition, the report’s public release now provides crucial evidence for civil damage claims to be filed in court against AIPAC. Stakeholders may now download released sections of the report and links to FBI files at: http://www.irmep.org/ILA/ustr/
SOURCE: Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep)