Washington Outlook

President Signs Trade Legislation Helping Africa, Caribbean Nations

By Craig Hardin
May 29, 2000

President Clinton signed the Trade and Development Act of 2000 May 18 in front of a crowd of 350 supporters that included Mayors Dennis Archer of Detroit and Bill Campbell of Atlanta. The bill, a priority of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, last year passed by a House vote of 309 – 110 and May 11 passed by a Senate vote of 77 – 19.

Previously known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the legislation took five years to wend its way through Congress, surviving conference committees, amendments, filibusters and the opposition of the textile industry and organized labor. The Act will make it easier for garments made in struggling African and Caribbean nations to reach American stores by eliminating tariffs and conferring duty-free status to some African and Caribbean apparel exports, particularly increasing export quotas for African apparel crafted with African fabric.

The United States Conference of Mayors supports a new economic relationship with sub-Saharan Africa, and in general promotes economic globalization through its CITIES/2000 initiative.

In May, 1999, Conference President and Denver Mayor Wellington E. Webb led an historic delegation of U.S. mayors to Dakar, Senegal, and Accra, Ghana to promote democracy building, share best practices, and increase trade and investment.

"History has put us in a time and a place to establish a new relationship between the United States, the world’s strongest economy, and the nations of sub-Saharan Africa," said Mayor Webb during the mayoral mission to Africa. "Together, we can build on strategies that will allow Africa to emerge as a full partner in the global economy," he said.

The legislation also gives duty-free and quota-free trading privileges to some textiles and apparel exports from the United States.

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