By JIM ABRAMS
WASHINGTON (AP) – Congress on Thursday renewed a key provision of a trade program that encourages economic development in sub-Saharan Africa.
The legislation, passed by voice vote in both the House and the Senate, also renews the president’s authority to apply import sanctions against Myanmar.
The measure extends for three years a provision of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act allowing duty-free access for African apparel made from third-country fabric. That provision would have expired at the end of September, causing disruption in orders from African factories. The bill also adds South Sudan to the list of the some 40 countries eligible under the trade act.
“AGOA and its third-country fabric provision are helping to build a strong middle class in Africa, lessening dependency on U.S. foreign aid and opening important new markets to American companies,” said Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on African affairs.
Since it was enacted in 2000, the trade act has been at the center of U.S. efforts to promote trade and investment in Africa while opening new sources of material for U.S. producers.
American Apparel Footwear Association President Kevin M. Burke said that with passage of the bill, “four million