The AGOA Action Coalition and the Whitaker Group applaud the United States Congress on today’s renewal of the Third Country Fabric provision of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). We are truly grateful for the efforts of our friends and allies, both on and off Capitol Hill, who have worked together over the past year in a spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation to make this a reality.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of this provision for the future of the US-Africa partnership. Over the course of many years and previous renewals, the Third Country Fabric provision has singlehandedly supported hundreds of thousands of jobs across Sub-Saharan Africa, and in the process created a burgeoning apparel industry in the continent. The sheer scale of the development dividends on the ground from this provision has been impressive. Moreover, the measure has provided a clear win-win for US and African firms, as greater economic interdependence with Africa is now leading to increased US exports to the region.
The renewal of the Third Country Fabric has come not a moment too soon, as we had already begun to witness a decline in apparel orders due to the uncertainty of this provision’s renewal. We are now confident that the industry can begin to rebuild and consolidate over the next six months, and continue to grow over the coming years.
We applaud the many champions in the US Congress whose commitment and compassion for the people of Africa have been instrumental in moving this measure – including Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and all additional cosponsors of HR5986 and S.3326 and their staff. We also applaud key members of the Obama Administration, without whose efforts this effort could not have succeeded – US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Deputy USTR Demetrios Marantis, Assistant USTR for Africa Florie Liser, Assistant USTR for Textiles Gail Strickler, Assistant USTR for Congressional Affairs Mac Campbell, and Deputy National Security Advisor for Economic Affairs Mike Froman, among many others. We especially applaud Secretary of State Hilary Clinton for her personal dedication to Africa and AGOA and her important and timely visit to the region. Finally, we will always remember and deeply appreciate the leadership of the late Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), one of the most significant champions for Africa in the history of the US Congress.
We also applaud the many partners who have helped to move this legislation, including the Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa, the ONE Campaign, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Corporate Council on Africa, the African Coalition for Trade, the National Council of Textile Organizations, the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, the Constituency for Africa, the American Apparel and Footwear Association, the US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, Schneidman & Associates, Manchester Trade, and so many other industry groups, private companies and individuals who have devoted their time, energy and passion to advocating for Africa’s continued growth and development.
We look forward to working with our friends and colleagues over the next several years to enhance and extend AGOA beyond 2015 and deepening the US-Africa partnership over the next decade.