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Bipartisan Legislation to Address Africa Preferences, CAFTA-DR Technical Textile Changes, and Burma Sanctions

June 21, 2012

Today, Chairman Camp (R-MI), Trade Subcommittee Chairman Brady (R-TX), Congressman Rangel (D-NY) and Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member McDermott (D-WA) introduced H.R. 5986, bipartisan legislation to:

(1) Extend the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) third-country fabric provisions through 2015 and add South Sudan as an eligible beneficiary country under AGOA;
(2) Implement non-controversial technical corrections and modifications to the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) textile and apparel rules-of-origin provisions; and
(3) Renew Presidential authority to apply import sanctions against Burma.

Identical legislation is scheduled to be introduced today in the Senate.  Additional background on H.R. 5986 is available here.

Chairman Camp said: “This must-do legislation has strong bipartisan and broad industry support.  It will benefit U.S. global competitiveness, aid U.S. employment and global development, and strengthen our ties with fifty-five U.S. trading partners in Africa and the Western Hemisphere.  It also renews Congress’ commitment to encouraging economic and political reforms in Burma.

“Extension of AGOA third-country fabric provisions and the designation of South Sudan as an eligible beneficiary demonstrate our strong commitment to sub-Saharan Africa and to the AGOA program.   The technical corrections to the CAFTA-DR textile rules of origin encourage deeper integration within the region, promote U.S. exports, and support U.S. jobs.   

“Today’s legislation continues to apply import sanctions on Burma.  While we’ve seen positive developments in Burma over the past few months, much work remains ahead.  I encourage the Burmese Government to continue on its forward-looking trajectory and implement significant political and economic reforms in order to foster a truly free and prosperous Burma.”

Trade Subcommittee Chairman Brady said: “Today’s legislation strengthens trade and investment ties with sub-Saharan Africa and ensures the U.S. textile industry can benefit from a more integrated supply chain in the Americas.  Through both of these changes, the legislation supports well-paying U.S. jobs.  The legislation also reauthorizes sanctions on Burma.  While the Burmese Government’s steps forward should be acknowledged, my sincerest hope is that the country will continue on a positive trajectory so its re-emergence into the world community can bring freedom, democracy, and inclusive growth to the Burmese people.”

Congressman Rangel said: “Today we move forward with common sense, broadly supported legislation.  The bipartisan spirit that created the AGOA program over a decade ago is still present. And I am pleased that bicameral effort is finally underway to renew the expiring third-country fabric provision. We are late, but not too late.  We can prevent further losses and take our place again at Africa’s side – a partner on the path to prosperity.  The CAFTA-DR provisions – while technical in nature – will enhance the competitiveness of the textiles and apparel industries and their workers in the United States and in the countries of Central America and the Dominican Republic. Burma sanctions have helped promote change and progress, which I am hopeful will continue.”

Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member McDermott said: “It’s good we are finally getting this done – our inaction on AGOA for over a year now is inexcusable. This senseless congressional delay has resulted in lost orders, lost jobs, and destroyed lives. We have always had it in our power to staunch this senseless loss and, thankfully, with this bill we are doing the right thing.  Like the CAFTA-DR technical corrections and the Burma sanctions renewal provisions that are also in this bill, the AGOA textile provision is important, non-controversial, and we should work to get it signed into law as soon as possible.”