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Camp Statement on the 10th Anniversary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act

May 12, 2010

Washington, DC – Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI) today made the following remarks at a press conference with United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). In the past decade, AGOA has helped countries develop and diversify their exports, and most importantly, it supports jobs in the United States and Africa.

“I want to thank Ambassador Kirk for organizing this event, and I want to acknowledge the current and former Members of Congress who have worked so hard to create and nurture this program over the years.

“AGOA is clearly a success story.  It has helped countries develop and diversify their exports, and most importantly it supports jobs here and in Africa.

“Congress has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to ensuring the success of the program by legislating whenever necessary to make the program more efficient and effective.  Over a ten-year period, we have legislated on African preferences at least five times, under the leadership of both Republican and Democratic majorities.  We are all committed to getting it right.

“I believe that a big part of the success of the AGOA program is because Congress was able to tailor a program specifically to the needs of the region.  This approach has made our trade preference programs very successful and at the same time has created strong bipartisan support.

“Particularly when many other countries are also seeking generous preferences, Africa must take advantage of its early access to the U.S. market to race ahead.  I am committed to helping you do that.

“Our challenge continues to be to encourage the growth in Africa that is necessary to take advantage of these preferences.  We’ve learned over the years that the most generous preferences do not matter if countries are unable to use them because of challenges with respect to infrastructure, rule of law, and regional integration.

“I remain committed to working with Africa to make sure that the preferences are the most effective that they can be.  At the same time, I hope that Africa will continue to work with us by emphasizing rule of law and economic liberalization, and by tearing down the barriers that African countries face in other African countries.  These steps will help make the preferences take root.

“I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues to continue to support the AGOA program.”