TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Nigeria Maps Out 6 Strategies for AGOA

Friday, 12 December 2003

Source: allAfrica.com

On Tuesday, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was meeting with African Trade and Finance ministers in the Executive Office Building next to the White House about the African Growth and Opportunities Act (Agoa). "I have a surprise for you," Rice said, and President George W. Bush walked in for an unadvertised discussion.

He talked to the group for 15 or 20 minutes and told them that "he would continue his commitment to Agoa," according to one non-African participant who described the session as "a very good, very clear presentation to these ministers."

In addition to Agoa, Bush also discussed his proposal for the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), stressing, as one participant put it, that his commitment that Africa "would not be diminished one bit by what was going on in the world scene" -- apparently a reference to the high costs of U.S. involvement in Iraq.

The conditionalities attached to the MCA and Agoa that stress good governance, transparency, ending corruption, opening up markets and economic reforms are crucial, both Rice and Bush told the group. He was saying, "we're there for you, we want to be there for you, but you've got to look at these things," one person present at the meeting said.

"His strongest message was that his administration is committed toward Africa, committed to deliver all of the programs that he has initiated in favor of Africa," said Roble Olhaye, Djibouti's Ambassador to the United States and dean of the African diplomatic corps in Washington; "and that he is passionate in seeing to it that Africa is integrated into the international economy."

President Bush "sees the African Growth and Opportunity Act as central to our efforts to meet the challenges of the Sub-Saharan African market," Secretary of State, Colin Powell said Tuesday, addressing the trade and finance ministers at the Department of State.

Yes, Kenyan Minister of Trade and Industry, Mukhisa Kituyi, told AllAfrica: "The political statements of support for extension of the deadlines under Agoa have been very consistent. But having said that, [while] President Bush told us he has given political instructions that the process be undertaken to amend the Agoa act, we haven't gotten the sense that the practical work of supporting the bill that has been rolled out on the Hill [has been done] -- mobilizing in Congress to get this enacted, before it gets too consumed with the political timetable, has not happened."

Dr. Kituyi said he had the impression "that some of the key movers, like Congressman Bill Thomas (a Republican representative from California who chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee), have not yet built the momentum that translates our optimism into legislative work."

The Agoa legislation passed during the Clinton Administration gives African nations preferential access to U.S. markets. The so-called 'Agoa 3' bills, introduced in the House and Senate last month, would extend the current law beyond its current 2008 expiration date and would also extend for four years the 2004 deadline for African clothing manufacturers to stop using Asian and other "third-country" fabrics in their duty-free exports to the United States.

"Congress cannot get this legislation passed without the support of key committees; the support, for example of the Ways and Means Committee and the support of the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee," Rosa Whitaker told a breakfast of African ministers, Wednesday morning. "That's critical support that we don't have."

In June, Whitaker, the former assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa, launched an 'Agoa 3 Action Committee' of businesses, NGOs, faith-based groups and African countries to push the measure. The committee is co-chaired by Jack Kemp, a former Republican member of the House and vice presidential candidate, along with Carl Ware of Coca Cola.

Agoa 3 has "less support than we had on Agoa 2 and less support than we had on the original Agoa," said Whitaker.

"This is a work in progress," said Ambassador Olhaye, optimistically.



For more on AGOA click here .

Regularly updated trade statistics on AGOA.info include:

  • All Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Overview

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.