|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:||CONTACT: CHRISTI HARLAN|
|Wednesday, February 9, 2000||202-224-0894|
Sen. Phil Gramm, chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, made the following statement today about the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (HR 434) at a news conference with the African Growth and Opportunity Act Coalition Inc.:
"I am for the African Growth and Opportunity Act. It gives us the ability to harness up the most powerful engine that you have ever had on behalf of sub-Saharan Africa and that is trade.
"If you took all the foreign aid given by every country in the world combined, gave it in a rational manner to sub-Saharan Africa, the impact over any extended period of time would be relatively small.
"Igniting trade and lowering trade barriers -- making it possible for people in sub-Saharan Africa to produce goods and services and sell in the largest and richest market in the world -- is our best ticket for economic development and for human freedom and dignity.
"This is not a big bill, but it is opposed by big special interest, which hopes to prevent us from passing this bill or to diminish its impact to benefit their own greed and special interest.
"Contrary to what may have been said by critics, sub-Saharan Africa provides only about 1 percent of our textile imports today. If sub-Saharan Africa dedicated its entire productive capacity to producing textiles, they would still not have a substantial impact on the American economy.
"President Clinton went to Africa, took a lot of pictures, and made a lot of promises. Now it is time for us to live up to those promises. So I hope you will call on members of Congress and urge them to do what the President committed to do. Now some are going to give you every excuse in the world as to why it can't be done, but don't be confused. Behind those excuses lies the special interest of people who benefit by working Americans paying higher prices – people who literally are stealing the shirts off the backs of working Americans and who hope to benefit by seeing us not fulfill the President's commitment.
"I want you to know that I am strongly for this bill. We are going to fight hard for it and I appreciate your help. "