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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                      (San Francisco, California)
For Immediate Release                                  February 26, 1999


             Overview of Annual Presidential Certification of
                Major Drug Producing and Transit Countries

Under the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of 1961, the President must identify and notify the Congress of those countries he has determined are major illicit drug producing and/or drug transit countries. President Clinton identified the current list of 28 major illicit drug producing and/or transit countries and dependent territories and notified the Congress in December 1998. Pursuant to the FAA, the United States is required to impose substantial restrictions on assistance to these countries unless, not later than March 1st of each year, the President makes certain determinations and certifies them to the Congress. The FAA also provides that the United States must vote against loans to a majors list country by any of six specified multilateral development banks, unless that country is certified.

The President may determine and certify to Congress that a majors list country is cooperating fully with the United States, or has taken adequate steps on its own, to achieve the goals and objectives of the 1988 UN Drug Convention. In reaching this determination, the President is required to consider each country's performance in areas such as stemming illicit cultivation, extraditing drug traffickers, and taking legal steps and law enforcement measures to prevent and punish public corruption that facilitates drug trafficking or impedes prosecution of drug-related crimes. The President must also consider efforts taken by these countries to stop the production and export of, and reduce the domestic demand for, illegal drugs.

On February 26th, President Clinton certified that 22 of the countries and dependent territories on the majors list cooperated fully with United States or took adequate steps on their own with respect to the goals and objectives of the 1988 UN Drug Convention. These countries or dependent territories are: Aruba, The Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Taiwan, Thailand, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

The President may also determine and certify to the Congress that the vital national interests of the United States require that a country be certified -- even if that country does not fully meet the criteria for a certification based on full cooperation. The basis for such a determination is that, on balance, the sanctions that would otherwise be imposed under the FAA should not be imposed for reasons related to our vital national interests. The President has certified four countries on this basis: Cambodia, Haiti, Nigeria, and Paraguay.

The President did not certify two countries that do not meet the statutory standard for certification: Afghanistan and Burma. Decertification results in substantial restrictions on most types of U.S. assistance to these countries.

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