African Trade Act increases trade between U.S.A. and African countries

The African Growth and Opportunity Act – under which the U.S. offered duty-free access for nearly all goods produced in the 35 nations of sub-Saharan Africa – was passed one year ago this month.

What have been the results in this short period of time?

  • U.S. imports from beneficiary countries are up 24 percent during the first three months of this year, compared to the same period in 2000 – with apparel imports up 30 percent.

  • Some countries experienced staggering increases – Madagascar and Senegal were up 138 percent and 544 percent, respectively.

  • Kenya estimates the law will help it to create 50,000 jobs directly and another 150,000 jobs indirectly over the next few years.

  • South Africa expects investment of at least $100 million in its textile and apparel facilities, creating 13,000 jobs.

    Far from displacing American workers, the act allowed U.S. exports of products such as aircraft, machinery, autos and wheat to sub-Saharan Africa for the first three months of this year to rise 23 percent compared to the same period last year.

    Opening up trade not only benefits workers in the countries concerned, it also helps American consumers, trade experts point out. In fact, the gains in higher income and lower prices from America's two big trade agreements in the 1990s – NAFTA and the Uruguay Round – saved the average American family of four between $1,300 and $2,000 a year.

    Source: Robert B. Zoellick (U.S. trade representative), Trade Helps Africans Help Themselves, Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2001.

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