THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Thursday, May 18, 2000
STRENGTHENING OUR ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP WITH AFRICA AND THE CARIBBEAN BASIN
"The legislation I sign today is about more than development and trade. It's about transforming our relationship with two regions full of good people trying to build good futures who are very important to our own future."
President Bill Clinton
Thursday, May 18, 2000
Today, at the White House, President Clinton signed into law the Trade and Development Act of 2000. The measure, which includes the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the U.S.-Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), and other important provisions, advances U.S. economic and security interests by strengthening our relationship with regions of the world that are making progress in the areas of economic development and political reform. It expands two-way trade and creates incentives for the countries of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and the Caribbean Basin to continue reforming their economies and participate more fully in the global economy.
Strengthening our Partnership with Africa. The 48 countries of sub-Saharan Africa make up a market of 700 million people, offering enormous potential for U.S. exporters. The AGOA promises to deepen our economic partnership with Africa, and encourages SSA countries to undertake economic reforms and engage in the world economy, leading to increased investment, economic growth, and poverty reduction. Among other provisions, the Act will:
- Establish, as U.S. policy, a framework of incentives to encourage greater economic growth and self-reliance through enhanced international trade and investment in Africa, and take steps toward consideration of a free-trade area;
- Expand the Generalized System of Preferences program to provide duty-free treatment to virtually all products exported to the U.S. from SSA;
- Protect African workers and U.S. jobs by creating tough safeguards against trans-shipment, and require that internationally recognized workers' rights and human rights be respected; and
- Make the eradication of AIDS a top priority of the U.S. government, and encourage the American private sector to take a more active role in combating AIDS/HIV in Africa.
Strengthening our Ties to the Caribbean. The 23 independent countries of the Caribbean Basin region together formed the sixth-largest export market for U.S. goods last year. But the devastation of Hurricanes Mitch and Georges in 1998 set the regional economy back. The CBTPA will help repair the damage, promote long-term growth, and create conditions in which democracies can thrive. Among other provisions, the CBTPA will:
- Extend preferential tariff treatment to textile and apparel goods assembled from U.S. fabric, thereby increasing U.S. exports of cotton and yarn, promoting investment in the region, and strengthening the position of the U.S. textile industry;
- Offer temporary trade benefits to Caribbean Basin countries to facilitate their economic development and reconstruction, and encourage more openness in their conduct of economic policy; and
- Base eligibility for expanded trade benefits on fulfillment of WTO fair trade obligations, cooperation in counter-narcotics efforts, respect for core labor standards, and protection of intellectual property rights.
Working to Create Opportunity. Today's legislation is part of President Clinton's agenda to reduce poverty and stimulate economic growth while creating opportunities in the global economy. The President is working to:
- Provide debt relief by leading our G-7 partners in adopting the Cologne Debt Initiative, which will reduce the debts of more than 30 of the world's poorest countries;
- Fight infectious disease through budget proposals including a $1 billion tax incentive aimed at stimulating the development of vaccines for poor countries, a $50 million contribution to the Global Alliance for Vaccines Initiative, and a $100 million increase in foreign assistance for AIDS prevention and care; and
- Ensure basic education and combat child labor with a 50 percent increase in U.S. assistance in this year's budget to improve access to basic education and combat child labor in developing countries.
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