Wednesday, August 03, 2016

From the Archives: Virginia Congressman Robert Hurt discusses Africa policy, Ebola threat, and AGOA

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on October 10, 2014. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site was scheduled to go dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

Virginia Congressman Robert Hurt discusses Africa policy, Ebola threat, and AGOA

At a campaign stop in Charlottesville on October 8, U.S. Representative Robert Hurt talked to reporters about a wide range of political topics and policy issues.

He answered questions posed by the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner about foreign policy matters. In an exclusive interview, he explained his position on U.S. military assistance to Syrian rebel groups and the Obama administration's strategy to defeat the Islamic State (also known as ISIL or ISIS).

In reply to other questions, Hurt talked about U.S. policy toward Africa, with reference to the threat of Ebola and also with regard to trade and investment under the umbrella of AGOA (the African Growth and Opportunity Act), which comes up for reauthorization by Congress in 2015.

'Public health threat'
“The Ebola epidemic definitely poses a public health threat to the United States,” Hurt said, noting the death of Liberian Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas a few hours earlier that day.

“We need to be able to know exactly who's coming into this country,” he explained, adding that the Ebola problem “highlights the need for border security, not just for terrorism but obviously for public health issues.”

With regard to the U.S. government's decision to send several hundred American troops to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to help manage the Ebola epidemic in those West African countries, Hurt warned that “we have to be very careful in deploying our military for humanitarian reasons. I know we do it from time to time but I think there has to be a demonstrable, justifiable use of our military for that purpose.”

The reasons for caution, he said, include that “it's a huge risk to the members of the military but” also that “the United States can't be the world policeman. We can't be all things to all people.”

Asked whether he planned to vote to reauthorize AGOA next year, Hurt said, “I need to look at it. We'll obviously have some time to look at that.”

AGOA and free trade
He explained that, “whenever you're talking about any kind of trade agreements, I think that we have to look for what's in the best interests of the United States.”

Hurt said that “we've seen instances where trade agreements have hurt us, and they've hurt very deeply people in places like Virginia's Fifth District, where you look at what's happened in the southern part of our district, in Martinsville and Danville and those sorts of places.”

Each trade agreement “is different,” he explained, so “you have to take it on a case by case basis and try to figure out what's the best deal.”

Congressman Hurt added, however, that he views free trade in a positive light. “Free trade – generally speaking – I'm all in favor of it.”

He favors free trade, he said, “because it does open up markets for our producers and for our manufacturers, so we want to open those markets – but we have to do so in a careful way.”

Referring to the situation on the ground in his own congressional district, Hurt illustrated his point by describing what Central Virginia farmers grow on their land.

“We were just coming down Route 29 and looking at the soybeans. A lot of the soybeans that are going to be harvested in Virginia [will] go down to Hampton Roads, [and] get on a ship” carrying them to China.

That, he concluded, is “a good thing for our producers, so where we can find those advantages, we want to pursue them” in appropriate trade agreements.


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