Ways and Means Committee Chairman Emeritus Charlie Rangel (D-NY), Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI), Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Jim McDermott (D-WA), Ways and Means Member Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), and Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Karen Bass (D-CA) made the following statements regarding today's passage of legislation in both the House and Senate extending critical expiring provisions of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), implementing important technical corrections to the textile provisions of CAFTA-DR, and renewing expiring sanctions on Burma.
"Today is a good day for us and for our partnership with Africa ," said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Emeritus Charlie Rangel (D-NY). "The African apparel industry, which has been hammered in the last few months with uncertainty about extension of the AGOA provisions can breathe a sigh of relief and American importers can continue to build critical relationships with African suppliers. American textile producers can also begin to take advantage of the important textile fixes to CAFTA. And, with renewed sanctions authority, we can maintain important leverage for progress in Burma."
"It is never too late to do the right thing," said Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI). "Hundreds of thousands of workers in Africa, and their families, who depend on AGOA have been looking to us for action for months. Similarly, American textile producers have been pressing for the CAFTA fixes for over a year to help them remain competitive and create jobs. They will finally have relief. Moreover, the Burma sanctions regime, which is important for continuing the progress we have seen to date in that country, has already expired. We needed to renew without further delay and today we have finally done it."
"Today's action will help workers and businesses in America, in Africa, and in Asia," said Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Jim McDermott (D-WA). "AGOA is critically important to our trading relationship with Africa and the cloud that has hung over it for months -- expiration of its critical provisions -- has finally parted. Although the many months of delay in getting to this point is inexcusable, we are finally at the finish line."
"By passing this legislation extending sanctions for one year, the U.S. Congress sent a clear message that we will continue to stand squarely with the Burmese people in their struggle for human rights," said Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY). "While we have seen many signs of progress in Burma and it is important to acknowledge and respond to that progress, there is still more to be done. Too many political prisoners are still in prison, violence continues against ethnic minorities, and not all necessary political reforms have been put in place. It is critical the U.S. continue to carefully balance its efforts to show recognition for some of political changes that have taken place, while continuing to press for further progress by keeping this law on the books. "
"Today's bipartisan effort to extend AGOA Third-Country provisions and make necessary technical changes to CAFTA saves thousands of jobs not only here in the United States, but also in Africa and Latin America," said Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY). "The legislation passed today will also enable businesses to create thousands more jobs."
"After months and months of work with my Republican and Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate, and African diplomats, I am pleased and relieved to finally be able to bring legislation to President Obama's desk that promotes the apparel industries of both Africa and the United States, creates thousands of jobs for African families, in particular African women, and strengthens the U.S.-Africa trade relationship," said Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA).
"My hope is that AGOA and its Third Country Fabric Provision serves as a catalyst for future economic development in Africa and sets the building blocks for a substantive trading relationship for the U.S. and Africa's nation in the future."