TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

US Lobbyists Want AGOA Extended

Monday, 27 October 2003

Source: Business Report

US-based lobbyists are pushing hard for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), signed into law by former president Bill Clinton in 2000 and extended in 2002 by current incumbent George W Bush, to be extended.

In a statement issued by the US embassy, former assistant US trade representative for Africa, Rosa Whitaker, said the Agoa 3 action committee wanted Africa's preferential US market access under Agoa extended to 2015 from 2008.

The group also called for an end to uncertainties over what constituted Agoa-eligible garments, the creation of a comprehensive plan to boost US-African agricultural trade under Agoa and the use of US tax incentives to encourage American investment and job creation throughout Africa.

Other demands included the removal of restrictions on the US Export-Import Bank, the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation and US Trade Development Authority in sectors such as agribusiness, electronics, textiles and apparel, and the enhancement of co-operation between American and African ports and airports to expand transportation and cargo links.

The provision of technical assistance to enable African governments and their private sectors to more fully participate in Agoa was also called for.

The committee cited the programme's successes, saying it had created "tens of thousands of jobs" in countries such as Madagascar, Namibia, Lesotho and South Africa.

Speaking for the Bush administration, the current assistant US trade representative for Africa, Florizelle Liser, said helping Africa was a complex task.

"We can't just give full access, but must also look at the constraints that Africans are faced with in taking full advantage of Agoa. We have to look at transport systems, supply of energy and water, and [look at] building the capacity of the people to take advantage of Agoa by actually developing businesses, agribusiness ... and developing manufacturing businesses that indeed go beyond textiles and apparel. So we know that there is much more to be done."

Jack Kipling, chairman of the Clothing Industry Export Council, said Whitaker "was extraordinary" and "had done more to push imports from Africa than anyone else we know".

Kipling said Liser had also spent time in Africa and put her weight behind Agoa.

"They understand the challenges and we have confidence in them." Kipling said. - Quentin Wray and Margie Inggs