June 11, 2006

Africa Wary of Closer Embrace With U.S.

Posted By CurlyJoe
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking at the fifth African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum, urged African leaders to eliminate trade barriers arguing that progress against rampant African poverty is only likely through business-led growth.

AGOA was passed by Congress in 2000. It eliminates U.S. import barriers on most of sub-Saharan Africa’s main exports to the United States, particularly textiles and clothing.

But for African countries to qualify, U.S. officials must first certify that they have liberalised their economies, privatised their public assets, minimised government interference in private business and created a U.S.-style legal system.

However, African leaders are lukewarm to the proposal. Statistics show that total non-oil AGOA trade has been declining. Activists argue that the agreement is not good for Africa since the U.S. free trade push in other parts of the world has been counterproductive to the poor masses and benefited only the local elites.


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