Washington, D.C. – United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk welcomed news of passage by the Senate Finance Committee today of key legislation that makes crucial improvements and amendments to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), America’s trade preference program for sub-Saharan Africa, and the Central America – Dominican Republic – United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR).
“It is critical for workers and businesses in the U.S. and Africa that we extend this key provision before it is due to expire in September. Just last week, I visited a textile factory in Ghana that will likely have to close its doors and lay off nearly 500 employees if Third-Country Fabric expires - and that is just one example, ” said Ambassador Kirk. “I applaud Senate Finance for taking this significant step in passing the Third-Country Fabric provision of the African Growth and Opportunity Act. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress to renew Third-Country Fabric and implement technical changes to CAFTA-DR as soon as possible."
Today’s news follows a welcomed announcement by Congress on June 21 of an agreement to renew Third Country Fabric and make the technical changes needed to CAFTA-DR. U.S. orders for shipment of African exports after the slated expiration date of September 2012 are down 35 percent; African textile exports have already dropped by 27 percent in the last year.