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US trade will help Africa, says Bush

Published date:
Thursday, 16 January 2003

United States President George Bush pledged on Wednesday that America would stand by Africa, helping it to end conflicts and to grow its economies through extended access to the giant US market.

Bush was delivering an address by satellite to the summit on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) in Port Louis, Mauritius, which is being attended by senior US officials and many African trade ministers.

He said he still intended visiting Africa later this year.

Bush said last year's terror attacks in Mombasa "remind us that Africa is on the front lines of the war against terror".

'Many leaders across the continent have pledged their governments'

America was grateful for Africa's support in the war against terror and would help it end regional conflicts in places like the Congo, Sudan, and the Ivory Coast.

Agoa is a US law that gives unreciprocal duty-free access to the American market for a wide range of African exports. It had "dramatically" boosted exports from several African countries, including South Africa and Mauritius, and helped to lift them out of poverty, said Bush.

The market access is due to expire in 2008 but Bush announced that he would be asking the US congress to extend the access beyond that date.

He also announced that the US would provide technical assistance to officials of the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu) to help them in their negotiations with the US for a US-Sacu free trade area.

And he said the 50 percent increase in US development aid over the next three years, rising to an extra $5-billion a year by 2006, which he had announced last year, would be in his budget for the fiscal year starting in October.

He stressed that the extra aid would go only to "nations that encourage economic freedom, root out corruption, and respect the rights of their people".

"Through the New Partnership for African Development (Nepad), many leaders across the continent have pledged their governments to these fundamental principles," said Bush.

America would also devote an additional $200-million over five years to improve basic education and teacher training in Africa and would deliver $30-million worth of books and other school supplies.

South Africa would benefit from both programmes, said US officials.

"All of us share a common vision for the future of Africa," said Bush.

"We look to the day when prosperity for Africa is built through trade and markets. We see a continent at peace, where the people of Africa obtain education and medical care, and live in freedom. And we're making great progress, as shown by last month's free elections in Kenya.

"Yet fulfilling this vision is the work of many years. It will require hard effort and true leadership and a rejection of some old ways. And in this great work, you will always have a partner in the United States.

"For many years, America and the world looked to the continent of Africa and saw only its problems. That era has passed. In this new century, the world is beginning to see the great potential of Africa, and the goodness of its people."

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