The U.S. Congress has passed and President George W. Bush has signed into law an extension through 2015 of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, known as AGOA. The law promotes increased trade, investment and economic cooperation between the United States and some thirty-seven countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In July, senior representatives from those countries and the U.S., as well as representatives of the private sector, will meet in Dakar, Senegal, for the fourth U.S.–Sub-Saharan AGOA Forum. They will discuss ways to foster greater interest in AGOA and will provide practical information about how to enter U.S. markets. Mr. Bush says "one of the most effective ways to advance democracy and deliver hope to the people of Africa is through mutually beneficial trade":
"Under this law, African nations can obtain greater access to our markets by showing their commitment to economic and political reform, by respecting human rights, tearing down trade barriers, and strengthening property rights and the rule of law."
In 2004, exports to the U.S. by the thirty-seven African nations eligible for AGOA trade benefits were up eighty-eight percent over the year before, and non-oil exports were up twenty-two percent. Over the same period, U.S. exports to sub-Saharan African countries were up twenty-five percent.
The U.S. has opened its markets, says Mr. Bush, "and people are now making goods that U.S. consumers want to buy. And that's helpful," says Mr. Bush. "That's how you spread wealth."
To mark these gains in trade and reform, President Bush welcomed to the White House leaders from five African countries: Festus Mogae of Botswana, John Agyekum Kufour of Ghana, Armando Guebuza of Mozambique, Hifikepunye Pohamba of Namibia, and Mamadou Tandja of Niger. Mr. Bush says these presidents "represent countries that have held democratic elections in the last year":
"What a strong statement that these leaders have made about democracy and the importance of democracy on the continent of Africa."
Mr. Bush says, "Africa is a continent full of promise and talent and opportunity," and the United States will do its part "to help the people of Africa realize the brighter future they deserve."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.