<!-- IMAGE -->Trade, Not Aid! is a cry heard frequently in
international affairs, the notion that helping those in the developing
world can be done best by helping them to help themselves through
expanding commerce in locally produced goods and services. In 2000, the
United States heeded the call in a bid to boost development in the
countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. Since then, trade between the two
regions has grown dramatically, and a recent conference of U.S. and
African leaders in Washington assessed the progress of this trade and
paved the way for further expansion in the years ahead.
Under a law passed by the U.S. Congress, the African Growth and
Opportunity Act, technical assistance is provided and import duties and
quotas are lifted on certain goods produced in designated African
countries that are making progress in economic and political reforms.
Forty-one nations now participate in a system that has spurred business
development, created jobs and expanded economic opportunity there. In
2007, AGOA trade increased more than thirteen percent to more than $80
While more than 6,500 African goods are eligible for duty-free
access to the U.S. market under the program, much of the commerce has
focused on textiles and petroleum products. Non-energy trade is
growing, though, and participants at the recent AGOA forum met to
discuss strategies for further expansion and diversification. By the
session's end, there was agreement this could be done by maintaining an
investment climate that encourages African businesses to develop and
helping them gain greater access to technology and private investment.
There's a new spirit of responsibility alive in Africa today, said
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The African people and many
of their governments are meeting their own challenges and creating
broad opportunities, connecting their citizens to the world and
succeeding in the global economy by doing it themselves.