In this year's State of the Union Address, I asked Congress to
support an initiative to strengthen economic ties to Africa. Today, I am
pleased that Congress has taken an important step forward on legislation
that will open a new era of U.S.-African trade and investment relations.
The strong bipartisan vote in the House in support of the African Growth
and Opportunity Act offers the way for a brighter future for Africa.
The United States has a vital stake in a stable, prosperous
Africa. Later this month, when I travel to Africa, I will deliver the
message that the United States stands ready to be a partner in Africa's
prosperity. A majority of sub-Saharan Africa's 48 countries have adopted
market-oriented economic and political reforms in the past seven years.
A stronger, stable, prosperous Africa will be a better economic partner,
a better partner for security and peace, and a better partner in the
fight against the new transnational threats of drug trafficking, crime,
terrorism, the spread of disease and environmental degradation. This
bill -- by significantly broadening market access, spurring growth in
Africa, and helping the poorest nations eliminate or reduce their
bilateral debt -- would help African nations that are committed to
undertake difficult economic reforms to build better lives for their people.
We have an historic opportunity to support the renaissance in
Africa. I want to commend Speaker Gingrich, Chairman Archer, Congressman
Rangel, Congressman McDermott, Congressman Crane, Chairman Gilman,
Congressman Hamilton, Congressman Payne, Congresswoman McKinney,
Congressman Jefferson, Congresswoman Jackson Lee, Congresswoman Waters,
Congressman Royce, Congressman Menendez, and all those who have devoted
themselves to helping that transformation. I look forward to working
with the Senate to enact this landmark legislation as quickly as possible.