China Drops Ban on U.S. Tobacco
WASHINGTON (AP) - China dropped an 11-year-old ban on the importation of American tobacco Tuesday on the eve of the House vote on whether to grant the Chinese permanent normal trade relations.
In a letter to the U.S. trade representative announcing the end of the ban, Chinese Ambassador Li Zhaoxing said ``such good news will be conducive to the PNTR legislation in (the) U.S. Congress.''
China had claimed that a fungus on U.S. tobacco called blue mold could damage its domestic crop but had recently suspended research on the issue after scientists concluded that the fungus could not reproduce once the leaf is cured.
Supporters of the trade agreement have said that an end to the Chinese ban could increase U.S. tobacco exports by 10 percent.
Under an agreement that the Clinton administration negotiated last year, China is to drop its tariff on U.S. tobacco from 40 percent to 10 percent and on cigarettes from 65 percent to 25 percent.
Several North Carolina lawmakers who represent large tobacco-growing regions have been undecided on the China trade vote. The end of the tobacco ban cemented a ``yes'' vote from Rep. Bob Etheridge, D-N.C.
``With this development there ain't no question,'' said spokesman Brad Woodhouse.