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Chairman Smith Opening Statement – Hearing on Looking Beyond 2025 for Trade with Sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti, and Others

June 12, 2024

“Reauthorizing AGOA will ensure American taxpayers get a positive return on their investment.”

As prepared for delivery.

“Thank you Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Blumenauer for holding today’s hearing as this committee continues to examine how best to reauthorize the African Growth and Opportunity Act program as well as strengthen trade relationships with other nations.

“While we have time to address the reauthorization of AGOA before its September 2025 expiration, there is no sense in waiting, and so I appreciate the Trade Subcommittee keeping this drumbeat going. This hearing follows two bipartisan roundtables we held earlier this year, one with ambassadors from several of the sub-Saharan Africa countries that participate in AGOA and another with stakeholders that utilize AGOA in order to hear firsthand their perspectives on the program.

“The AGOA program has a successful track record of encouraging economic development in sub-Saharan Africa and greater access for U.S. agriculture products in that region – something I’ve watched closely over the years having attended an AGOA forum in Gabon back in 2015. Under the program, American taxpayers have invested over $8 billion in trade-related activities in Africa over the past 20-plus years. Reauthorizing AGOA will ensure American taxpayers get a positive return on their investment. It will also strengthen our economic relationship by making sure access to African markets for American exports, especially agriculture, is fair and our trade relationships benefit American workers, farmers, and businesses. 

“We also need to use our trade tools to counter the malign influence of countries like China and Russia. The AGOA program can play an important role in shoring up our critical supply chains to reduce our dependence on China. Earlier this year, the Ways and Means Committee approved trade reforms to counter China’s growing military and economic influence around the world. This included the Generalized System of Preferences Reform Act – introduced by Trade Subcommittee Chairman Smith – that would ban China from the GSP program and incentivize countries to grow their economies in partnership with the United States, not China. Those same reforms should be reflected in a reauthorization of AGOA.

“Meanwhile, our trade relationship with Haiti supports American manufacturing while encouraging stability in a nation that is currently suffering tremendous political and social turmoil. I have serious concerns with the violence taking place in Haiti – violence that recently took the lives of two individuals from my home state of Missouri who were in the country doing mission work when they were killed by armed gang members. I want to thank Dr. Wenstrup in particular for his leadership on this issue, as well as a number of other Members of this Committee on both sides of the aisle. I appreciate their recognition that U.S. businesses can be a force for good – particularly for a nation like Haiti, which is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. 

“Thank you again to Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Blumenauer and to all of our witnesses testifying here today.”