LOG EXPORT BILL POSES PROBLEMS IN TRADE POLICY

LOG EXPORT BILL POSES PROBLEMS IN TRADE POLICY

A move is under way in Congress to let state governments control the export of logs from state lands - an initiative that the administration says would complicate U.S. trade policy.

A bill to give states log export control authority is pending before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. A vote is expected within a few weeks.The bill, already approved by a Foreign Affairs subcommittee, would create a serious negative precedent of allowing U.S. trade policy to be controlled at the state, rather than federal, level, says Clayton Yeutter, the U.S. trade representative.

But Rep. Don Bonker, D-Wash., and Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., among other Northwest congressmen, argue that letting states restrict the export of logs

from state lands would help boost U.S. lumber and other wood products and save thousands of U.S. mill jobs.

The bill, opposed by port associations, the American Association of Exporters and Importers and some other private groups, has a good chance in the Foreign Affairs Committee, says Jim Langlois, executive director of Washington state's Citizens for World Trade.

Rep. Bonker, who chairs a Foreign Affairs subcommittee and is running for a Senate seat, could parley his influence in the full committee, where Democrats have an eight-vote margin, to get the bill approved, Mr. Langlois suggests.

The bill, he says, also has support in the Senate. Sen. Bob Packwood, R- Ore., recently tried, though unsuccessfully, to get similar legislation included in the omnibus trade bill.

Sen. Packwood is expected to keep pushing to give states the right to control log exports.

Potentially at stake are hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. exports, particularly logs from state lands in Oregon and Idaho.

The governors of both states have said that they would restrict log exports, if Congress allows them to do so.