White House Statement on Trade With Romania, Hungary, and China

June 2, 1987

The President is forwarding to the Congress his determination to continue most favored nation tariff status for Romania, Hungary, and the People's Republic of China. MFN is a basic element in the development of bilateral trade relations with each of these countries and is an important aspect of our political relationships as well. The President concluded that extension of MFN status to these countries for another year, in accordance with the Jackson-Vanik amendment, would serve the economic and foreign policy interests of the United States.

The decision to continue Romania's MFN status was exceptionally difficult. The issue was addressed at the highest levels of the administration. All options were seriously considered. The President carefully weighed the strong criticisms that have been made of Romania's human rights record. He shares the concerns expressed in the Congress and by private citizens about violations of basic human rights in Romania, despite the Romanian Government's freely undertaken commitments under the Helsinki Final Act and other international instruments. He found reports concerning limitations on religious freedom and discriminatory treatment of national minorities particularly distressing. He is sympathetic to the plight of the Romanian people who endure a very harsh economic and political reality. The President also has been disappointed by the Romanian Government's very limited response to our numerous expressions of concern.

However, after weighing all the factors, the President decided that we should continue the MFN relationship with Romania as long as it enables us to help substantial numbers of people. Over the years, MFN has stimulated increased Romanian emigration and made possible the reunification of thousands of divided families. MFN has also enabled us to have an impact on Romania's human rights practices and to help strengthen the conditions for religious observance there. We are not prepared to place at risk these benefits. They are more modest than we would like but nonetheless important in human terms.

For the President, the humanitarian considerations were most compelling in deciding to renew Romania's MFN status. He has taken the position that it is better to direct our efforts to improving conditions that arouse our concern than to abandon the principal means of influence we now have and walk away. As noted in his report to the Congress, the President has instructed Secretary Shultz to pursue our human rights dialog with Romania with renewed vigor.