TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Nigeria Can't Get Apparel Visa Status Four Years Into Agoa

Friday, 09 April 2004

Source: The Whitaker Group (Washington, DC)

"The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act Acceleration Act 2004, H.R. 4103, represents a major milestone in efforts to fight poverty and instability in Africa and help grow the region's reforming economies as markets for US goods," Rosa Whitaker, co-chair of the AGOA 3 action committee, said.

Fellow co-chair Jack Kemp, founder of Empower America, was equally upbeat. "Fighting poverty and expanding markets for Africa helps create new opportunities for Americans - it's a win-win for all."

The bipartisan initiative's key architects are Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA), Chairman of the House Ways and Committee, Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), the committee's ranking Democrat, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the Africa subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Phil Crane (R-IL), Rep. John Jefferson (D-LA), and Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI).

Unveiled on March 31, H.R 4103:

* Extends the original AGOA from 2008 to 2015; * Ensures that the poorest countries can keep using low cost imported fabric in garments made for the US market for another three years; * Provides technical assistance for trade capacity building, development of eco-tourism and SPS compliance for agricultural products; * Instructs the Administration to develop programs to assist with transportation and infrastructure development in Africa; * Ends confusion over what constitutes an AGOA eligible garment. * Preempt conflicts that might have arisen when the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) enters into a free trade agreement with the US.

Whitaker applauded Chairman Thomas and Congressman Rangel for working to forge consensus on H.R. 4103 and welcomed their announced intention to have legislation marked up by the Ways and Means Committee this month, with a view to House passage in June.

"This is a great step forward, but we still have a tough journey ahead," Whitaker said. "Now is not the time to relax." She vowed that the AGOA 3 Action Committee - a coalition of business, faith-based groups and NGO's working for a pro-poor extension of AGOA - would now redouble its efforts to see legislation move expeditiously through the House and Senate.

On behalf of Coca Cola, a major supporter of the AGOA 3 Action Committee, Robert Lindsay, president of Coca Cola's Africa Foundation, said: "For Africa to achieve its true potential, Africa must trade with itself and with its partners. AGOA 3 represents a natural step in the growing business link between Africa and the U.S."

Speaking for ChevronTexaco, also a major supporter of the Action Committee, government affairs director Ludwick Hayden said: "This bi-partisan agreement offers much hope for a positive ultimate AGOA 3 result. It portends good things for the economies of Africa."

Kenya's US ambassador, His Excellency Yusuf A. Nzibo, spoke glowingly of "the impact of the extension in giving hope and empowering millions of women in Sub-Saharan Africa. Women are the backbone of our economies and our hope for a bright future in Africa. By empowering women, AGOA will empower the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa."

"It is heartening to see that Africa remains a priority to the Members of the House Ways and Means Committee in the midst of an election year. Their action signifies a big step toward the passage of a vital piece of legislation -- AGOA 3," said Bernadette Paolo, Vice President, The Africa Society.

"AGOA has laid an important foundation for dialogue and partnership between the United States and African governments and businesses. Despite progress so far, much remains to be done. AGOA has potential to improve trade and reduce hunger in Africa, especially if it boosts investments in African agriculture and commodities grown by small farmers," said David Beckman, President of Bread for the World, and one of the leading forces in the AGOA 3 Action Committee.