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U.S. Federal Court Revokes Massac

Subject: U.S. Federal Court Revokes   Massachusetts Trade Law 


               U.S. Federal Court Revokes
               Massachusetts Trade Law


               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 Burma. 

               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

               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

               Massachusetts enacted the 1996 law to sanction Myanmar for
human rights

               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               have withdrawn from Myanmar, including Hewlett-Packard Co.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,

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