WASHINGTON (Feb. 19)
The State Department has confirmed that the United States and Rumania are negotiating a commercial agreement in accordance with the Trade Reform Act of 1974 that includes the Jackson-Vanik amendments relating U.S. trade benefits to the emigration practices of Communist bloc countries. According to the provisions of the trade law, President Ford must report to Congress on the trading partner’s compliance with the emigration provisions and either House may reject the agreement if not satisfied.
State Department spokesman Robert Funseth said yesterday that the negotiations are “proceeding satisfactorily.” The Jewish Telegraphic Agency was informed that they are taking place in Bucharest where the American negotiating team is headed by U.S. Ambassador Harry Barnes. Funseth said he did not know when the agreement will be completed but “understood” that negotiations began Jan, 15. He said he did not know of negotiations with any other Communist country being conducted under the 1974 Trade Act.
The JTA learned from other U.S. sources that the terms of the trade agreement with Rumania have been completed and that the talks now concern assurances from the Rumanian government regarding emigration. According to these sources, emigration from Rumania falls into two categories. One concerns approximately 650 Rumanians related to American citizens or holding dual citizenship–the largest number of such persons in any Communist bloc country. The second category concerns Rumanian Jews who want to emigrate to Israel.
EMIGRATION DESCRIBED AS ‘UP AND DOWN’
American sources described Rumania’s record on Jewish emigration as “up and down.” Rumania is the only Communist bloc country that maintains diplomatic and trade relations with Israel. A sizeable flow of Soviet Jews passed through Rumania enroute to Israel until the Yom Kippur War. That channel was closed and has not been reopened, the sources said. The emigration of Rumanian Jews to Israel has ebbed and flowed, but was never entirely halted.
One source said Jews were leaving Rumania all the time. Another source said there have been periods of up to several months when no Jews left Rumania. There are presently fewer than 90,000 Jews in that country, the U.S. sources said. They described the Rumanian Jewish community as an aging one with a low rate of natural increase. There were 100,000 Jews in Rumania at the time of the Six-Day War in 1967. Of the 10,000 who left since then, most emigrated to Israel between 1967 and 1973.