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Afghanistan: Reconstruction Opportunity Zones

Press Statement
Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 27, 2008

Reconstruction Opportunity Zones

We are pleased that Representatives Chris Van Hollen, Peter Hoekstra, Sander Levin, Mark Steven Kirk, Gary Ackerman, and Sheila Jackson-Lee have introduced legislation (H.R. 6387) supporting the establishment of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) in Afghanistan and the border areas of Pakistan.

The Administration has supported this goal since 2006, when President Bush first announced the initiative. By attracting private investment to these critically important areas through trade incentives, ROZs will make a valuable contribution to regional growth, prosperity, and stability. Economic opportunities generated by ROZs constitute a key component of our long-term strategy to counter conditions in which terrorism, drug trafficking, and other activities threatening U.S. and global security thrive.

For these reasons, the Administration welcomed the introduction of ROZ legislation by Senators Cantwell, Hatch, Bond, Lieberman, and Hagel in March. As introduced, S. 2776 would accomplish the President’s objectives and make a strong bipartisan statement on America’s commitment to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

We strongly support Representative Van Hollen’s efforts to advance our national security objectives in these critical regions, and thank him for his leadership. We share the goal of protecting workers’ rights, and favor the inclusion of labor criteria in the legislation. We are concerned, however, that some labor provisions contained in the bill may prove impractical and ultimately hinder our common goal of bringing economic opportunity to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan and supporting their democratically-elected governments.

We look forward to working with Congress in a bipartisan and constructive manner to address these issues, and to getting an effective ROZ program enacted into law this year.

2008/529
Released on June 27, 2008

ENDS

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