May 1, 2002

The Honorable J. Dennis Hastert
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker:

            We are writing on behalf of USA*Engage, a coalition of over 650 American businesses and organizations engaged in international trade and investment, to urge you to oppose the “Syria Accountability Act of 2002” (H.R.4483).  This legislation is fatally flawed: it cannot achieve its stated goal of influencing the Syrian government to change its policies.  Instead, it will seriously undermine the political and commercial role of the U.S. in the Middle East. 

Secretary Powell recently met with President Assad and active diplomacy is taking place in the region.  Congressional action to impose new U.S. sanctions on Syria impairs the President’s ability to implement his policies in the extraordinarily complex Middle East conflict.  In addition, the bill would serve as a precedent and a template for future harmful sanctions against other countries in the region.  Any such legislation should be given extremely careful consideration by the Congress and the Executive Branch.  In fact, this bill does not add new authorities that the President does not already possess.  It only perpetuates the myth that difficult international problems can be addressed by ineffective U.S. unilateral economic sanctions.

Over three hundred American companies from many states, including Illinois, have business relations with Syria.  Enactment of this bill would throw their continued role into serious doubt and would certainly chill constructive U.S. business elsewhere in the region.  These opportunities will be quickly taken up by our foreign competitors.

This is the wrong time to tie the President’s hands and impede the U.S. private sector in Syria.  In particular, we urge you to use your authority as Speaker to insure that due diligence is exercised by the Congress on this matter and that the business community and the Administration have a full opportunity to comment if the bill is considered by committee.




Don Deline                                                                               Bill Reinsch
Co-Chairman                                                                            Co-chairman, President, National Foreign Trade Council


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