UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
USA: Africa Trade Bill, 1
Date distributed: 980317
Issue Areas: +economy/development+ +US policy focus+
This posting contains a summary analysis of the African Growth and Opportunity Act as approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, and of concerns about the bill that may be addressed as the Senate considers its parallel version of the bill. The next posting contains selected direct excerpts from the text of the bill and from comments made in presenting an amendment by Rep. Maxine Waters.
On March 11, the US House of Representatives approved H.R. 1432, known as the "African Growth and Opportunity Act," by a vote of 233 to 186. The legislation, which has yet to be considered in the Senate, has strong support from many African diplomats and business people, but has drawn opposition from labor, environmental, and human rights groups. The Congressional Black Caucus split, with 24 voting for the bill and 12 against it. CBC Chairperson Rep. Maxine Waters voted for the bill despite the failure of two of her amendments to modify it.Within the CBC, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. was the most outspoken opponent who voted against the bill.
In comparison with early draft versions of the bill, which tended to present trade and investment as a panacea which would replace aid, debt relief and other measures, the bill as passed strongly reaffirms the need for continued aid and debt relief, affirms human rights and even includes poverty alleviation as well as growth among the objectives to be pursued.Critics, however, note that such provisions are in non-binding sections of the bill, and that the operative "conditionalities" lay heavy stress on rigid free-market formulas, including cutting government spending, privatization and barring protection for national industries. While many critics called for a vote against the bill, others called for continued efforts to modify the bill in the Senate.
Among the bill's strengths and weaknesses:
* Challenges stereotypical images of Africa as crisis-ridden and chaotic by formally recognizing the continent's economic importance and potential. * Acknowledges that debt reduction and development assistance are critical to the success of trade and investment initiatives. * Reduces certain barriers to US markets, creating new export opportunities for producers in eligible African nations. * Facilitates investment in infrastructure.
* Requires countries to adopt market-oriented economic policies, similar to those imposed under World Bank structural adjustment programs, in order to take advantage of new initiatives. * Provides no additional money for development assistance or debt relief. * New programs ill-suited to needs of poorest countries. * Measures intended to promote industrial development do not ensure respect for core labor and environmental standards. * Lacks mechanism to ensure that poor households derive direct benefit from improved infrastructure.
Bill advances in spite of concerns
Originally introduced in April 1997 by Representatives Phil Crane (R-IL), Jim McDermott (D-WA), and Charles Rangel (D-NY), H.R. 1432 attracted 53 cosponsors in the House and prompted Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) to introduce a Senate companion, S. 778.
The legislation would:
* create a US-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum to bring Cabinet-level officials together annually to discuss economic matters of mutual concern;
* expand African access to US markets by extending, for a ten year period, import tariff concessions under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and by eliminating US import quotas on textiles manufactured in Sub-Saharan Africa;
* establish a $150 million equity investment fund and a $500 million infrastructure investment fund for Sub-Saharan Africa under the auspices of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC);
* initiate planning for the creation of a US-Sub-Saharan Africa Free Trade Zone; and
* create a Deputy Trade Representative for Africa in the office of the US Trade Representative.
Although the overwhelming majority of the bill's cosponsors are Democrats (44 to 9), the measure enjoyed bipartisan support; the Speaker of the House, Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA) was among the most prominent proponents of the legislation at hearings early last year. Clinton Administration officials have also testified in favor of the measure.
Last year, the International Relations Committee and the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade reviewed, amended, and approved the legislation. On February 25, the full Ways and Means Committee endorsed the legislation, clearing the way for floor action last week. [The full text of the legislation, including committee amendments, is available from http://thomas.loc.gov.]
The debate in the House covered several of the bill's most controversial provisions:
Eligibility requirements - Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, unsuccessfully proposed an amendment that would would have permitted the President to waive the eligibility requirements at his discretion.
Development assistance - Proponents emphasized that the eligibility requirements would not apply to development assistance programs, so adoption of the legislation would not cut off aid to any current beneficiaries. However, by a wide margin (81-334) the House also rejected an amendment, proposed by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), that would have imposed a ten-year ban on further cuts in aid to sub-Saharan Africa. [Some critics argued that the bill would also make development assistance funds subject to the new eligibility requirements. However, the bill's requirements extend only to programs authorized by it, which do not include development assistance.]
Textile imports - Several speakers expressed concern that reduced quotas and tariffs on African imports would allow Asian textiles, shipped through African nations, to flood the US market, destroying domestic jobs. Proponents say the bill contains a number of mechanisms--including a 35 percent local content requirement and a stipulation that eligible goods must be "substantially transformed" in Africa--to thwart significant transshipment of Asian textiles.
Although the legislation passed the House easily, it has generated far less enthusiasm in the Senate. To date, only four Senators have cosponsored S. 778. The Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over the bill, is preoccupied with an investigation of Internal Revenue Service practices. It has not yet scheduled any consideration of the legislation.
Unless the measure attracts more ardent support in the Senate--and a strong proponent in the Finance Committee in particular--its progress will remain slow. Even if the bill is reported out of committee, the Senate's crowded legislative calendar diminishes the potential for final action before the 105th Congress adjourns for the fall election campaign.
White House has similar package
Many of the bill's provisions can be implemented without legislative action, however. In June 1997, President Clinton unveiled the "Partnership for Economic Growth and Opportunity in Africa." This initiative was spelled out in greater detail in the President's third annual "Comprehensive Trade and Development Policy for the Countries of Africa," released in December [The current and previous versions of this document are available at www.ustr.gov/reports/index.html]. Also in December, Rep. Rangel led a group of members of Congress, administration officials, and business people on Presidential Mission to six African nations in order to demonstrate support for the new measures and win backing from African leaders. President Clinton has made U.S. economic engagement with Africa a central theme of his March 22 trip to Senegal, Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, Botswana, and South Africa.
The main components of the Partnership mirror those of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, and the Clinton Administration has already begun to launch certain aspects of the plan. In November, OPIC announced the establishment of a $150 million private equity fund for sub-Saharan Africa. The Office of the US Trade Representative is in the process of hiring a Deputy Trade Representative for Africa.
The Congressional and Executive proposals differ primarily in the eligibility requirements that African nations must meet in order to participate. Whereas access to all of the programs authorized by the Act would be contingent on a country's fulfillment of a single set of criteria, the White House plan envisions three levels of benefits with different eligibility thresholds.
Both Congress and the Clinton Administration want to push African governments to adopt market-oriented economic policies. The White House, however, acknowledges that "not all countries are ready or able to take the steps necessary" to meet all of the criteria contained in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act. Consequently, the Partnership would make certain benefits--including continued access to GSP tariff concessions and OPIC-established investment funds--available to all sub-Saharan African nations currently eligible to be GSP beneficiaries (e.g., all sub-Saharan nations except Eritrea, Gabon, Liberia, Mauritania, Nigeria, and Sudan).
Countries that "are pursuing aggressive growth-oriented reform programs" would have access to additional benefits, including relaxed US import restrictions on some goods--although not necessarily textiles and apparel, as stipulated in the Act. Level two participants would also be able to take part in the US-Africa Economic Cooperation Forum and could receive technical assistance to facilitate policy reform.
At the third level, the United States would consider negotiating free trade agreements with those nations that combine market-oriented policies with sustained economic growth.
Unlike the legislative package, which explicitly brings the GSP program for sub-Saharan African nations under the Act's more stringent eligibility requirements, the Partnership would not terminate benefits under existing programs for any sub-Saharan countries. Vital legislation remains plagued by flawed approach
Africa is the only major world region for which the US government has no clear trade strategy. If adopted, the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act would be the first formal US recognition of the significance of African nations as trading partners. Both the Act and the Partnership would help to combat Africa's perennial marginalization in US foreign policy by requiring US government officials to devote systematic attention to US economic relations with nations across the continent. The initiatives have the potential to alter both the scale and the tone of US public and private sector relationships with Africa, dispelling the widely held misconception that Africa is economically irrelevant to the United States and highlighting the continent's successes and opportunities.
The bill has won enthusiastic support from many African government officials and business people. Representatives of African grassroots, church, and labor groups have had fewer opportunities to comment on the initiatives, and their assessments have been more skeptical (see, for example, the documents previously distributed by APIC at www.africapolicy.org/docs97/eco9708.htm and www.africapolicy.org/docs97/trad9709.1.htm).
They point out that, in its present form, H.R. 1432 may produce few concrete improvements in the living standards of ordinary people, either in Africa or the United States. H.R. 1432 has been portrayed as a strategy for stimulating African development through the expansion of market opportunities in the United States. However, it is at least as much about opening African economies to investment by and imports from the United States. According to Tetteh Hormeku of Ghana's Third World Network, the United States is eager not to be crowded out of African economies by preferential trade and investment agreements negotiated among neighboring states or between African nations and European powers.
Consequently, the Act aims to push African governments to adopt market-oriented economic policies, such as the privatization of state industries, the elimination of tariff and nontariff barriers to trade, and the reduction of business and commercial taxes and regulations. The desired policy changes are spelled out in detail in the eligibility requirements the Act would impose on would-be participants.
Relying on markets and the private sector as the primary engine of development presents at least two major problems. First, unregulated markets do a poor job of reducing poverty and promoting even development. Wealthy individuals, companies, and nations typically enjoy an advantage in free markets. Second, market deregulation diminishes the scope for governments to use economic mechanisms to achieve public policy goals. While certain checks on government economic intervention may be desirable, the relentless pursuit of free markets jeopardizes the capacity of Africa's emerging democratic institutions to realize any popularly-defined development agenda. To have economic policies prescribed by a foreign power as a precondition of access to vital development resources is a further affront to accountable government and national sovereignty.
Is trade replacing aid?
Preliminary proposals circulated prior to the introduction of H.R. 1432 saw expanded trade as a substitute for development assistance. Rep. Rangel and Africa advocacy organizations argued that increased trade would not automatically benefit Africans. Not only are trade patterns important--increasing unprocessed mineral exports, for example, is far less likely to produce sustainable economic growth than would the expansion and diversification of industrial production--but trade enhancement programs must also be linked to effective poverty reduction, social investment, debt eradication initiatives, and accountable government if they are to achieve long-term success.
As introduced, H.R. 1432 appeared to go some way towards addressing these concerns. It expressed Congress' desire to support governments committed to the eradication of poverty, the recognition of the importance of women to economic growth and development process, and the establishment of accountable government. Sections of the bill acknowledge the importance of foreign aid and debt relief. It calls for continued funding of development assistance as well as for deep and rapid debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative of the World Bank.
However, the legislation does not advance these objectives in any concrete way. It does not appropriate additional resources for development assistance, nor does it constitute a binding commitment to future funding of aid and debt relief programs. In an era when Congress slashes the already small US foreign assistance account on an annual basis, such rhetorical endorsements have little meaning.
Proponents of the bill point out that there must be limits to the scope of any single piece of legislation. However, a press release issued on February 25 by Rep. Crane, H.R. 1432's primary sponsor, reveals that this is not merely a strategic omission. "This is the first step in replacing aid with trade," the statement declared in response to the Ways and Means Committee's approval of H.R. 1432.
Human rights, workers' rights
The original version of H.R. 1432 used strictly economic criteria to assess a country's eligibility to participate in the bill's programs. During the committee process, a number of amendments were made to the eligibility requirements, including the addition of two clauses intended to promote recognition and respect for human rights. Countries that engage in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights or fail to provide equal protection under the law and rights to due process and a fair trial would now be excluded from participation.
The bill's textile provisions have generated some of the most heated controversy. The legislation would repeal the current limits on textile and apparel imports from Kenya and Mauritius and would enforce a "no quota" policy on similar imports from other eligible sub-Saharan nations for the duration of the current international Agreement on Textiles and Clothing. A recent study conducted by the US International Trade Commission (www.usitc.gov/wais/reports/arc/w3056.htm) concluded that the this action would have no significant affect on the domestic textile industry. But US labor unions warn that if manufacturers in these countries are not required to adhere to basic labor and environmental standards, US companies might relocate plants to Africa in search of lower production costs and higher profits. The result, they say, would be loss of jobs in the United States, extreme exploitation of African workers--particularly women, and environmental damage. Labor groups have urged that quota reductions and any future free trade agreements be contingent on the recognition of fundamental workers' rights and environmental protections.
Some critics have also expressed concern that manufacturers in other parts of the world might transship textiles through Africa in order to obtain tariff concessions on sales to the US. The Ways and Means Committee adopted an amendment to H.R. 1432 intended to strengthen the anti-transshipment language already in the bill.
Any further effort to address the objectionable aspects of the legislation must occur in the Senate. The President's trip to Africa could provide an opportunity for administration officials to consult with a much more representative range of Africans--including leaders of church, labor, and grassroots organizations--and to solicit additional comments which could help to inform the Senate debate.
[For additional US commentary on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, see the US-Africa Trade Policy Working Group's letter to Congress at www.africapolicy.org/docs97/trad9710.htm and the collection of documents available at www.citizen.org/pctrade/Africa/finalfac.htm. For further background material on US-Africa economic relations, see the Africa News archive at www.africanews.org/econ.]
USA: Africa Trade Bill, 2
Date distributed: 980317
Issue Areas: +economy/development+ +US policy focus+ Summary Contents: This posting contains selected excerpts from the text of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (H.R. 1432), as adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives, together with a portion of comments by Rep. Maxine Waters in presenting an amendment to the bill. The full texts can be found on line at http://thomas.loc.gov.The previous posting contains a summary analysis of provisions of the bill and the debate around it.
105th CONGRESS, 2d Session, H. R. 1432
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
The Congress finds that it is in the mutual economic interest of the United States and sub-Saharan Africa to promote stable and sustainable economic growth and development in sub-Saharan Africa. To that end, the United States seeks to facilitate market-led economic growth in, and thereby the social and economic development of, the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. In particular, the United States seeks to assist sub-Saharan African countries, and the private sector in those countries, to achieve economic self-reliance by--
(1) strengthening and expanding the private sector in sub-Saharan Africa, especially women-owned businesses; (2) encouraging increased trade and investment between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa; (3) reducing tariff and nontariff barriers and other trade obstacles; (4) expanding United States assistance to sub-Saharan Africa's regional integration efforts; (5) negotiating free trade areas; (6) establishing a United States-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Investment Partnership; (7) focusing on countries committed to accountable government, economic reform, and the eradication of poverty; (8) establishing a United States-Sub-Saharan Africa Economic Cooperation Forum; and (9) continuing to support development assistance for those countries in sub-Saharan Africa attempting to build civil societies.
SEC. 3. STATEMENT OF POLICY.
The Congress supports economic self-reliance for sub-Saharan African countries, particularly those committed to--
(1) economic and political reform; (2) market incentives and private sector growth; (3) the eradication of poverty; and (4) the importance of women to economic growth and development.
SEC. 4. ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS.
(a) IN GENERAL- A sub-Saharan African country shall be eligible to participate in programs, projects, or activities, or receive assistance or other benefits under this Act if the President determines that the country does not engage in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights and has established, or is making continual progress toward establishing, a market-based economy, such as the establishment and enforcement of appropriate policies relating to-- (1) promoting free movement of goods and services between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa and among countries in sub-Saharan Africa; (2) promoting the expansion of the production base and the transformation of commodities and nontraditional products for exports through joint venture projects between African and foreign investors; (3) trade issues, such as protection of intellectual property rights, improvements in standards, testing, labeling and certification, and government procurement; (4) the protection of property rights, such as protection against expropriation and a functioning and fair judicial system; (5) appropriate fiscal systems, such as reducing high import and corporate taxes, controlling government consumption, participation in bilateral investment treaties, and the harmonization of such treaties to avoid double taxation; (6) foreign investment issues, such as the provision of national treatment for foreign investors and other measures to create an environment conducive to domestic and foreign investment; (7) supporting the growth of regional markets within a free trade area framework; (8) governance issues, such as eliminating government corruption, minimizing government intervention in the market such as price controls and subsidies, and streamlining the business license process; (9) supporting the growth of the private sector, in particular by promoting the emergence of a new generation of African entrepreneurs; (10) encouraging the private ownership of government-controlled economic enterprises through divestiture programs; (11) removing restrictions on investment; and (12) observing the rule of law, including equal protection under the law and the right to due process and a fair trial.
(b) ADDITIONAL FACTORS- In determining whether a sub-Saharan African country is eligible under subsection (a), the President shall take into account the following factors:
(1) An expression by such country of its desire to be an eligible country under subsection (a).
(2) The extent to which such country has made substantial progress toward-- (A) reducing tariff levels; (B) binding its tariffs in the World Trade Organization and assuming meaningful binding obligations in other sectors of trade; and (C) eliminating nontariff barriers to trade.
(3) Whether such country, if not already a member of the World Trade Organization, is actively pursuing membership in that Organization.
(4) Where applicable, the extent to which such country is in material compliance with its obligations to the International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions.
(5) The extent to which such country has a recognizable commitment to reducing poverty, increasing the availability of health care and educational opportunities, the expansion of physical infrastructure in a manner designed to maximize accessibility, increased access to market and credit facilities for small farmers and producers, and improved economic opportunities for women as entrepreneurs and employees, and promoting and enabling the formation of capital to support the establishment and operation of micro-enterprises.
(6) Whether or not such country is cooperating with the United States in efforts to eliminate slavery in Africa.
(7) Whether or not such country engages in activities that undermine United States national security or foreign policy interests.
(d) VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND INELIGIBLE COUNTRIES- It is the sense of the Congress that a sub-Saharan African country should not be eligible to participate in programs, projects, or activities, or receive assistance or other benefits under this Act if the government of that country is determined by the President to engage in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.
SEC. 5. ADDITIONAL AUTHORITIES AND INCREASED FLEXIBILITY TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE UNDER THE DEVELOPMENT FUND FOR AFRICA.
(a) USE OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE TO SUPPORT FURTHER ECONOMIC GROWTH- It is the sense of the Congress that sustained economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa depends in large measure upon the development of a receptive environment for trade and investment, and that to achieve this objective the United States Agency for International Development should continue to support programs which help to create this environment. Investments in human resources, development, and implementation of free market policies, including policies to liberalize agricultural markets and improve food security, and the support for the rule of law and democratic governance should continue to be encouraged and enhanced on a bilateral and regional basis.
(4) The African Development Foundation has a unique congressional mandate to empower the poor to participate fully in development and to increase opportunities for gainful employment, poverty alleviation, and more equitable income distribution in sub-Saharan Africa. The African Development Foundation has worked successfully to enhance the role of women as agents of change, strengthen the informal sector with an emphasis on supporting micro and small sized enterprises, indigenous technologies, and mobilizing local financing. The African Development Foundation should develop and implement strategies for promoting participation in the socioeconomic development process of grassroots and informal sector groups such as nongovernmental organizations, cooperatives, artisans, and traders into the programs and initiatives established under this Act.
SEC. 7. UNITED STATES-SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA FREE TRADE AREA.
(1) IN GENERAL- The President, taking into account the provisions of the treaty establishing the African Economic Community and the willingness of the governments of sub-Saharan African countries to engage in negotiations to enter into free trade agreements, shall develop a plan for the purpose of entering into one or more trade agreements with sub-Saharan African countries eligible under section 4 in order to establish a United States-Sub-Saharan Africa Free Trade Area (hereafter in this section referred to as the `Free Trade Area').
SEC. 8. ELIMINATING TRADE BARRIERS AND ENCOURAGING EXPORTS.
(a) FINDINGS- The Congress makes the following findings:
(1) The lack of competitiveness of sub-Saharan Africa in the global market, especially in the manufacturing sector, make it a limited threat to market disruption and no threat to United States jobs. (2) Annual textile and apparel exports to the United States from sub-Saharan Africa represent less than 1 percent of all textile and apparel exports to the United States, which totaled $45,932,000,000 in 1996. (3) Sub-Saharan Africa has limited textile manufacturing capacity. During 1998 and the succeeding 4 years, this limited capacity to manufacture textiles and apparel is projected to grow at a modest rate. Given this limited capacity to export textiles and apparel, it will be very difficult for these exports from sub-Saharan Africa, during 1998 and the succeeding 9 years, to exceed 3 percent annually of total imports of textile and apparel to the United States. If these exports from sub-Saharan Africa remain around 3 percent of total imports, they will not represent a threat to United States workers, consumers, or manufacturers.
(c) TREATMENT OF QUOTAS-
(1) KENYA AND MAURITIUS- Pursuant to the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, the United States shall eliminate the existing quotas on textile and apparel exports to the United States-- (A) from Kenya within 30 days after that country adopts an efficient visa system to guard against unlawful transshipment of textile and apparel goods and the use of counterfeit documents; and (B) from Mauritius within 30 days after that country adopts such a visa system.
(2) OTHER SUB-SAHARAN COUNTRIES- The President shall continue the existing no quota policy for countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The President shall submit to the Congress, not later than March 31 of each year, a report on the growth in textiles and apparel exports to the United States from countries in sub-Saharan Africa in order to protect United States consumers, workers, and textile manufacturers from economic injury on account of the no quota policy.
(d) CUSTOMS PROCEDURES AND ENFORCEMENT-
(1) ACTIONS BY COUNTRIES AGAINST TRANSSHIPMENT AND CIRCUMVENTION- The President should ensure that any country in sub-Saharan Africa that intends to export textile and apparel goods to the United States-- (A) has in place a functioning and effective visa system and domestic laws and enforcement procedures to guard against unlawful transshipment of textile and apparel goods and the use of counterfeit documents; and
SEC. 10. INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND DEBT REDUCTION.
(a) BETTER MECHANISMS TO FURTHER GOALS FOR SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA- It is the sense of the Congress that the Secretary of the Treasury should instruct the United States Executive Directors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Monetary Fund, and the African Development Bank to use the voice and votes of the Executive Directors to encourage vigorously their respective institutions to develop enhanced mechanisms which further the following goals in eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa: ...
(4) Supporting deep debt reduction at the earliest possible date with the greatest amount of relief for eligible poorest countries under the `Heavily Indebted Poor Countries' (HIPC) debt initiative.
(b) SENSE OF CONGRESS- It is the sense of the Congress that relief provided to countries in sub-Saharan Africa which qualify for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries debt initiative should primarily be made through grants rather than through extended-term debt, and that interim relief or interim financing should be provided for eligible countries that establish a strong record of macroeconomic reform. ...
SEC. 11. SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA EQUITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDS.
(A) EQUITY FUND FOR SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA- One of the funds should be an equity fund, with assets of up to $150,000,000, the primary purpose of which is to achieve long-term capital appreciation through equity investments in support of projects in countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
(B) INFRASTRUCTURE FUND- One or more of the funds, with combined assets of up to $500,000,000, should be used in support of infrastructure projects in countries of sub-Saharan Africa. The primary purpose of any such fund would be to achieve long-term capital appreciation through investing in financing for infrastructure projects in sub-Saharan Africa, including for the expansion of businesses in sub-Saharan Africa, restructurings, management buyouts and buyins, businesses with local ownership, and privatizations.
(4) EMPHASIS- The Corporation shall ensure that the funds are used to provide support in particular to women entrepreneurs and to innovative investments that expand opportunities for women and maximize employment opportunities for poor individuals.
Amendment No. 2 offered by Ms. [Maxine] Waters:
In subsection (a) of section 4 (Eligibility Requirements), insert after paragraph (12) the following: A country need not meet all the requirements set forth in paragraphs (1) through (12) in order to be eligible under this subsection.
I take this opportunity to say that I am deeply respectful of all who have spoken on the bill. I am deeply respectful of the proponents and the opponents of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act. It is incumbent upon those of us who have identified concerns with this bill to not only try to make it a better bill, but to acknowledge that none of us are right on this bill.
Some of us have advanced this bill as the best thing that could ever happen for Africa. While I wish that was true, it is not necessarily true. And for others, who have condemned this as the worst thing that could have ever happened, that is not true either.
What we have, I think, is an attempt by those of us who care about Africa to try to advance something that will lead us to a trade agreement.
I think all of the Members of this House who are involved in this legislation would like to get to the point where we can do a good trade bill. We differ on what the guiding policy should be to get to that point. Some Members think that everything in this bill is good and should be embraced. I am one who believes that there are some things in the bill that are unnecessary, that may be harmful and need to be dealt with. I take this opportunity to try to deal with some of this in amendments.
My first amendment is a very simple amendment that says, no country would be forced to have to comply with all of the requirements of this bill. This underscores the flexibility of the President to take a look at countries and make some determination about whether or not they are in compliance with some things, ... whether or not they are, in fact, acting in good faith despite the fact they do not meet all of the strict requirements. When I talked with the proponents of this bill, they said to me, that was the intent of the bill. I said to them, that was not clear. As I looked at the laundry list, I became concerned. I pointed out some of my concerns.
For example, if we take a look at page 40 of the legislation, line 20, item 5, it says, appropriate fiscal systems such as reducing high import and corporate taxes, controlling government consumption, participation in bilateral investment treaties and the harmonization of such treaties to avoid double taxation.
I would have struck that from the bill if I had had my way. I attempted to do that. That amendment was not accepted. However, this amendment would at least give the President the opportunity to evaluate whether or not a country is moving in that direction, ... as we look as things such as controlling government consumption.
What does that mean? For some Members, they would spend less money on education and health. For some Members, that would mean we would spend less money on the infrastructure. For some Members, that would mean something quite different than what I would be concerned about.
I think that we need some flexibility to review these kinds of things ...
So I would ask that my colleagues support the idea that this bill that we have before us today is the framework, it is the guidepost, it is the direction leading toward an agreement with Africa on trade. We want to be as fair as we can possibly be. We do not want to be overly harsh. We do not want to be overly punitive. We do not want to do anything that will interfere with their ability to really get involved with trade in ways that will benefit them and their people.
[This amendment was defeated 334 to 81.All members of the Congressional Black Caucus voted for the amendment.]
Message-Id: <199803180124.RAA25358@igc3.igc.apc.org> Date: Tue, 17 Mar 1998 19:59:38 -0500 Subject: USA: Africa Trade Bill, 1/2
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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