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House OKs Bill To Spur African Trade

By Ann Curley/CNN

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 11) -- On a 233-186 vote, the House has passed legislation to promote new trade and economic policies for the nations of sub-Saharan African.

Arguing that "it's been long overdue that we realize the potential of trading in Africa," Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), one of the bill's primary proponents, urged his colleagues to vote for the legislation.

The "African Growth and Opportunity Act" creates mechanisms to determine the eligibility of 48 sub-Saharan nations to participate in broader U.S. economic and financial aid programs, allowing them duty-free treatment in trade.

To be eligible for U.S. aid, the countries must adhere to human rights standards, economic reforms and reductions of tariff barriers to trade.

Opponents of the bill, mostly from states with textile and apparel industries, worry their states will suffer by losing jobs to sub-Saharan countries that produce similar products.

The Clinton administration and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have indicated their support for the bill.

Clinton will travel to Africa with a large entourage later this month, with stops planned in Ghana, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Botswana and Senegal.

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Wednesday March 11, 1998

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