TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Washington to Host AGOA Forum

Friday, 21 November 2003

Source: United States Congress (Washington, DC)

Today, a group of Republican and Democratic Members of the House of Representatives joined Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) in introducing legislation to extend the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). House Members joining the legislation include: Jim McDermott (D-WA), Edward Royce (R-CA), Charles Rangel (D-NY), William Jefferson (D-LA), and Richard Neal (D-MA).

Upon introduction, Senator Lugar said, "This legislation recognizes the enormous potential for economic growth and development in sub-Saharan Africa. It embraces the vast diversity of people, cultures, economies, and potential among forty-eight countries and nearly 700 million people. A stable and economically prosperous Africa can provide new partnerships that will contribute greatly to our commercial and security interests."

Congressman Royce, Chairman of the Africa Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee, added, "There should be a sense of urgency about Africa, which is challenged in so many ways. A more developed trade relationship with Africa, which is what we're aiming for with AGOA III, is very important to the continent's future."

The legislation introduced today aims to continue the success of AGOA and broaden the economic sectors that can take advantage of its benefits. Under AGOA, a wide array of products from sub-Saharan Africa receive duty-free and quota-free access to the United States market. Since its enactment in 2000, AGOA has led to sharp increases in two-way trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. In just the first nine months of 2003, U.S. total trade with sub-Saharan Africa rose 27 percent. Imports under AGOA increased nearly 60-percent in the first nine months of 2003, compared to the same period of time in 2002. Further, since 2000, tens of thousands of jobs have been created throughout sub-Saharan Africa. AGOA is the cornerstone of U.S. trade policy toward sub-Saharan Africa and, earlier this year, President Bush announced that program should be extended beyond 2008.

"The legislation that we introduced today responds to what we have learned since AGOA's enactment. It aims to build and broaden the AGOA's benefits so that other sectors, particularly agriculture and value-added agriculture products, can participate in the American market," remarked McDermott. "All of us look forward to working with our colleagues, with Chairman Thomas, and the Bush Administration to improve this bill and to help the economies of sub-Saharan Africa reach their potential."

"Today, we start an important new chapter to broaden and deepen the economic and commercial relationship between the United States and the countries of sub-Saharan Africa," Rangel commented. "This bill will allow us to build on the phenomenal success of AGOA I and AGOA II and ensure that that success continues into the future.

The House and Senate measure would:

· Extend AGOA through at least 2015.

· Extend for four years the ability for the poorest AGOA-eligible countries to use third-country fabric for duty-free apparel exports to the U.S.

· Provide a significant amount of technical assistance to African farmers so that they can meet the strict U.S. sanitary/phytosanitary requirements.

· Reduce the challenges and barriers that African farmers face trying to export their goods to the United States.

· Develop initiatives to help Africa build the capacity and the infrastructure (transportation, energy, telecommunications, water) necessary to increase