Wednesday

AGOA: Another View

"AGOA never had, and never will have, an impact on Eritrea's Economy," says this proud Eritrean.
I read the AFP report under the heading "Bush adds Angola to trade pact, drops Eritrea, Central African Republic" dated December 31, 2003. I also read the reasons given by the Bush Administration for making that choice. Having addressed that issue before, I have no intention of revisiting it except to offer my fellow Eritreans a look at AGOA. What does "being on the list" constitute? There is not a single industry in Eritrea that is going to be affected and there has not been a single Eritrean industry that has benefited from "being on the list", so let us be realistic and see AGOA for what it is or not. Ethiopia led by the corrupt, racist, lawless, belligerent, apartheid minority regime is considered eligible and has been put on the list while Eritrea has been removed. So much for the rule of law!"
So what's AGOA and how helpful is it to African economies? Try to contrast the above view with a pro-AGOA one. You've got both an African person-in-the-street and an American John Doe (or Tom or Dick or Harry) as potential beneficiaries to this Act, signed in May 2000 by Bill Clinton. Who's the real beneficiary? In essence, AGOA "extends the possibility of favored trade status to 48 sub-Saharan African nations if the government of these nations follow guidelines spelled out in the Act. To date, 38 countries have been declared eligible for AGOA," says AGOAAfrica dot com.

I would like to hope that AGOA is good for Africa and for Lesotho, and not only in the short term, as my fears insist, but perhaps for longer than that, so that some of the benefits trickle down to the local populace. Lesotho's AGOA "status" is up for review this year (2004). America wants Lesotho to produce its own textile, instead of just making clothes from imported textiles and sending the clothes to America. I think that it is good to insist on home woven cloth. If Lesotho is unable to produce its own raw materials, then it's bye-bye AGOA. But my initial question still stands: between an average African and and average American, who's the beneficiary?