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U.S. Federal court revokes Massachu

Subject: U.S. Federal court revokes Massachusetts trade law

U.S. Federal court revokes Massachusetts trade law
05:21 p.m Nov 05, 1998 Eastern
By Leslie Gevirtz

BOSTON, (Reuters) - Massachusetts officials Thursday were deciding whether
or not to appeal a federal court ruling that struck down the state's law
imposing sanctions on firms doing business with Myanmar, formerly known as

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro, in a ruling late Wednesday, found that the
Massachusetts Burma Law, which effectively barred firms doing business with
Myanmar from state contracts, ''unconstitutionally infringes on the federal
government's exclusive authority to regulate foreign affairs.''

According to Judge Tauro, ``Massachusetts' concern for the welfare of the
people of Myanmar as manifested by this legislative enactment, may well be
regarded as admirable. But, under the exclusive foreign affairs doctrine,
the proper forum to raise such concerns is the United States Congress.''

Asst. Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Barnico said in a telephone
interview Thursday, ``We're deciding whether to appeal. If we do, we'll also
try to get a stay of the ruling so that the law can be reinstated while the
appeal is heard.''  Massachusetts enacted the 1996 law to sanction Myanmar
for human rights violations.

The National Foreign Trade Council, a group representing some of the largest
U.S. corporations, brought the lawsuit arguing that the measure attempted to
regulate foreign affairs. Since it went into effect in 1997, a number of
companies have withdrawn from Myanmar, including Hewlett-Packard Co. and
Eastman Kodak Co.

The European Union, which recently renewed its own limited 1996 sanctions
against Myanmar, supported the council's lawsuit. It said the law,
``interferes with the normal conduct of EU-U.S. relations; raises questions
about the ability of the U.S. to honor international commitments...and poses
a great risk to the proliferation of similar state sanction laws, which in
turn would aggravate international tensions.''

The World Trade Organization, at the urging of the EU and Japan, agreed last
month to set up a dispute panel to examine the Massachusetts law. It is
unclear what will happen in that action.

((Boston newsroom, 617-367-4106; fax, 617-248-9563; e-mail,