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Uganda Pushing for AGOA III

Published date:
Tuesday, 09 December 2003

The benefits of AGOA are "clear for all to see," the Mauritian Minister of industry and international trade said December 9 as he thanked the United States on the part of all Africans for enacting such historic trade legislation.

Speaking at the third United States, Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum on AGOA at the State Department's Loy Henderson Auditorium, Cuttaree said AGOA has increased job creation in Lesotho, Swaziland, Senegal, Uganda and Mozambique and has allowed families to raise their standard of living and to look to a more hopeful and secure future.

"Increased trade has brought with it, improved infrastructure in seaports, airports and highways. This improvement has not only brought employment but has opened up our African countries to travel, movement and development," he said.

Cuttaree was asked to open the December 9 session along with Secretary of State Colin Powell after Mauritius hosted the 2nd AGOA Forum meeting in January 2003.

Following is the text of Minister Cuttaree's remarks, as prepared for delivery:

(begin text)

Secretary of State, Honorable Colin Rowell

My Colleagues, Ministers of Africa

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors from Africa

Distinguished Guests from the U.S. Administration

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great honor for me to thank the U.S. Government for hosting this 3rd United States-Sub Saharan African Trade and Cooperation Forum. I wish to acknowledge, Mr. Secretary, your personal contribution and that of Ambassador Zoellick in strengthening the ties between the United States and Africa. Mauritius was extremely proud to host the 2nd Forum in January of this year and to show that Africa is a worthy partner of the United States. The message of solidarity and cooperation that President Bush gave [via satellite] at that Forum has been echoed here again by you in Washington.

Therefore, on behalf of all the African delegations present here today, I wish to thank the American Government, Congress and people for the benefits that are accruing from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.

The benefits from AGOA are clear for all to see. Increased job creation in Lesotho, Swaziland, Senegal, Uganda and Mozambique has allowed families to raise their standard of living and to look to a more hopeful and secure future. Increased trade has brought with it improved infrastructure in seaports, airports and highways. This improvement has not only brought employment but has opened up our African countries to travel, movement and development.

The possibilities of increased market access to the United States, has attracted foreign direct investment into countries where poverty and debt were the norm. Increased exports have brought in much needed foreign exchange flows, allowing sub-Saharan African countries to plan more concretely for sustainable development.

Most importantly AGOA has brought hope. The traditional doom and despair associated with Africa is being replaced by an atmosphere of positive and creative thinking. Whether it is Mercedes and BMWs being made in South Africa, apparel being created in Lesotho and Swaziland or handicrafts from Ghana, Kenya and Madagascar, the outward approach of African countries, both in the public and private sectors, is heralding a new wind of change in our continent.

This outward approach forces us Africans to be more present on the world stage. We must participate more fully and constructively in international economic institutions and fora. Being more outward looking will help us to better integrate the world and will allow us to gain more from the present trend of globalization. While African countries must defend their specific interests, we must also realize that playing a part in the new world economic order involves negotiation, understanding and sometimes compromise. I am sure that the delegations here will convey to the U.S. authorities their sincere wish to see the Doha Development Agenda back on track to ensure an ordered world economic system that allows Africa to be a serious and meaningful partner.

While AGOA has created hope for many sub-Saharan African countries, there are still serious areas of concern for our governments and peoples. I am glad to see the propositions in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate to extend and expand the scope of AGOA. I can state that the African countries support these important measures and I am sure that, once again, the African Ambassadors' Group here in Washington DC, will be as effective as it was for AGOA I and II. I am glad to see that AGOA III is moving to areas of great concern for Africa such as agriculture and transport and hope that we will see this legislation enacted in the 108th Congressional session.

Another area of concern is the ending of the Multi-Fiber Agreement on 1st January 2005. AGOA has permitted the creation of small industries in African countries, which are really helping these countries' economies and peoples. There is serious apprehension amongst these countries that their infant industries will be wiped out in direct competition with traditional apparel producers who have long developed vertically integrated industries. The decisions by the U.S. Committee on International Textile Agreements to limit surges in these areas is welcomed and is seen by African countries as a sign of the American commitment to protect, not only its own domestic industry, but also those nascent industries in small and least developed countries.

Mr. Secretary, I am glad to report that the 2nd U.S.-Sub Saharan African Trade and Cooperation Forum in Mauritius earlier this year led to real in-depth discussions between our governments. It also helped to project an image of Africa which we all-too-often do not see in the print, audio and visual media -- that of committed, professional Africans from both the public and private sectors, ready to do business. It also permitted the nongovernmental organizations to have their say in this great experiment that is AGOA. I am certain, sir, that you will find the same enthusiasm and dedication from my colleagues and their delegations as we work to create a stronger partnership between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa in this 3rd AGOA Forum.

Thank you.

(end text)

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