Agriculture Committee to Hold Hearing on IMF Assistance to Asia, Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan, Secretaries Rubin and Glickman to Testify

May 15, 1998

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Bob Smith (R-OR), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, announced today that he and Ranking Member Charlie Stenholm (D-TX) will hold a hearing Thursday, May 21, 1998 to discuss the effect of the Asian finacial crisis on U.S. Agriculture and the importance of funding the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Immediately following the hearing, Members of the Agriculture Committee and hearing witnesses will be available to the media for comment in Room 1302 Longworth.

In February, Members of the Agriculture Committee met with Secretaries Rubin and Glickman, and Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan to discuss the financial crisis in Asia and the need to protect U.S. economic interests, particularly its share of the agricultural market in that region.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced $2 billion of GSM export credit guarantees for South Korea, Indonesia, the Phillipines, Thailand, and Malaysia. The use of these credit guarantees is dependent upon reforms required by the IMF in those countries affected by the Asian financial crisis. These reforms include the elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers, trade-related subsidies, and various licensing requirements used to block imports.

"The extension of USDA export credit guarantees to Asia could only take place with the recent market-opening reforms required by the IMF. The loss of this market, which accounts for 12% of the U.S. agriculture export market, would have a devastating effect on U.S. farmers and ranchers. We cannot stand idly by while our agricultural producers suffer this catastrophe," Smith said.

"I support funding for the IMF and believe it is in the best interest of the United States to ensure that our farmers and ranchers can continue to be the most efficient and productive in the world," Smith said.

"U.S. agricultural exports to Asia and Latin America have doubled in the past 10 years but, as a result of the Asian crisis, U.S. agriculture is expected to lose 3-6 percent of its market in Asia," said Charlie Stenholm, the committee's ranking minority member. "The IMF's financial resources are at historically low levels, and it is up to the Congress to show the foresight needed to help contain the crisis."

Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District - which includes most of eastern, central, and southern Oregon - in the U.S. House of Representatives. Stenholm represents Texas' Seventeenth Congressional District, a sprawling agricultural district in west central Texas.