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|Welcome to "Ask the State Department" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to State Department officials.
Jendayi E. Frazer, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, led an online discussion regarding the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the AGOA Forum, which took place June 6-7 in Washington, DC.
Ask the White House: AGOA Discussed
Jendayi E. Frazer
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs
June 5, 2006
Ambassador Frazer, I am the U.S. correspondent for the Nation Media Group (Kenya). Kenya initially benefited greatly from the AGOA textile provisions, but the end of the international quota system has led to the loss of thousands of jobs. AGOA will likely become almost entirely an oil-related trade initiative unless substantial progress is made in encouraging exports of textiles and agricultural products. What, specifically, is the Bush administration considering in this regard? Thank you.
Thank you for your question, Kevin. It is true that the end of global apparel quotas, has sharpened competition in the textiles and apparel sector worldwide. Nevertheless, sub-Saharan Africa has almost doubled its share of the imported apparel market in the United States since AGOA came into effect in 2000. Several African countries, including Botswana, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Mozambique, have experienced increases in their apparel exports to the United States in the last year, showing that African countries still compete and compete successfully in this sector. However, your point is important African countries need to diversify the types of products they export to the United States. AGOA gives them the opportunity to do this, as it allows the export of nearly 6,500 product lines to the United States duty-free.
Dr. Frazer, you visited Equatorial Guinea last February and President Obiang came to Washington in April. What is necessary for Equatorial Guinea to become an AGOA country?
Jo, I very much enjoyed my visit to Equatorial Guinea, such a beautiful country. With regard to Equatorial Guinea qualifying as an AGOA country, the eligibility criteria are set forth in the AGOA legislation. These include having established, or making continual progress toward establishing, market-based economies, rule of law and political pluralism, elimination of barriers to U.S. trade and investment, protection of intellectual property, efforts to combat corruption, policies to reduce poverty, increasing availability of health care and educational opportunities, protection of human rights and worker rights, and the elimination of certain child labor practices. EG has come a long way in recent years and will hopefully take on these reforms benefit from the many opportunities AGOA offers.