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Romania to Seek to Restore Trade Privileges With U.S.

January 09, 1990|From Associated Press

BUCHAREST, Romania — The new government announced today that it will seek to restore special trade privileges granted by the United States but renounced by ousted dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

The governing National Salvation Front also asked for diplomatic ties with the European Community.

The Foreign Ministry said it was "empowered to nullify the abusive and unilateral Feb. 29, 1988, declaration of the former regime which gave up the granting by the U.S.A. of the most-favored-nation clause."

The ministry statement said a decision Monday to lift all travel restrictions on Romanians paves the way for Romania and the United States to resume the trade privileges, which exempted from some customs duties Romanian products arriving in the United States.

Washington granted the privileges to Romania in 1975 when Ceausescu was courted by the United States as a Communist maverick. They were tied to human rights, including free travel and emigration under the 35-nation Helsinki Final Act.

Washington increasingly grew critical of Ceausescu's suppression of free speech, religious practice and political organization.

In February, 1988, when it seemed that the U.S. Congress would no longer extend the special trade status, Ceausescu renounced it, saying American pressure to honor human rights pledges was a "violation of the principles and norms of international relations."

Ceausescu was toppled last month in a popular uprising. The provisional government convicted him and his wife, Elena, of "grave crimes" and executed them Dec. 25.

Romania estimated that the lost trade privileges cost it $250 million in export revenues from the United States, which totaled $775 million in 1987. The Romanians sell wooden furniture, small engines, leather, textiles, gasoline and aluminum products to the United States.

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