Congress passes textile trade provisions
Both the U.S. House and Senate on Thursday passed legislation to a extend key provision in the African Growth and Opportunity Act enacted by President Clinton in 2000.
The provision, which was set to expire on Sept. 30, waives any duties on clothing imports from most AGOA countries, even if the yarn is from a “third-world country.”
First passed by the House on a voice vote and then unanimously in the Senate, also by a voice vote, the bill is now on its way to President Obama’s desk for signature.
“This provision has helped generate hundreds of thousands of jobs in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., in a statement. “Since its extension became uncertain, there has been a 35 percent downturn in orders since the beginning of the year and wide job losses that the AGOA countries cannot afford. In addition, if the provision had been allowed to expire, American retailers would have faced a narrowing supply chain and the American people would have seen fewer apparel options.”
In particular, AGOA has helped employ hundreds of thousands of women across sub-Saharan Africa.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is currently on a seven country, 11-day tour of Africa, including a stop in the new nation—newly AGOA eligible—of South Sudan. Her last stop will be in Ghana. Every country she will visit is AGOA eligible.
The legislation also makes important technical changes to the textile and apparel provisions of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States (CAFTA-DR) Free Trade Agreement. The changes will support the U.S. textile industry in North Carolina and South Carolina, and is expected to save 2,000 American jobs.
“Today’s bipartisan action will save the jobs of thousands of workers and small business owners in the United States, Africa and Latin America,” said Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. “This legislation is an important part of the Obama administration’s efforts to strengthen the U.S. manufacturing industry, improve our international trade relationships, and support American jobs.”
“I am pleased the U.S. Senate has been able to resolve outstanding issues that had prevented the passage of this much needed legislation,” said American Apparel & Footwear Association President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin M. Burke. “Now that both chambers have cleared this legislation, 4 million workers in the U.S. apparel and footwear industry can continue to rely on these programs to remain competitive in the global market. Upon President Obama’s signature, AAFA looks forward to working with Congress and the administration to ensure a smooth implementation process that provides greater predictability for our members.”
In addition, the legislation renews President Obama’s authority to maintain the import ban on goods from Burma from entering the U.S. market.
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