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  • 08/07/2012 5:27 PM

    The renewal of the third-country fabric (TCF) provision of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) – passed by Congress last week – is welcome news for apparel workers in Africa and will contribute to a strong foreign policy foundation in the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

    In many Sub-Saharan African countries, manufacturers use fabric from international sources to produce apparel because the regional fabric supply is limited. These same apparel manufacturers then export their finished products to the United States. Normally, these products would be subject to U.S. import duties, but the TCF provision lifts those duties and helps to support jobs and the manufacturing industry in certain lesser-developed Sub-Saharan African countries. The benefits of the TCF provision also extend to American apparel retailers; it helps them reduce their costs, diversify their supply chains, and create more apparel options for American consumers. The TCF provision was scheduled to expire in September of this year, but on August 2nd, Congress acted to renew it, safeguarding thousands of jobs for textile workers throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

    U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk visiting the Lucky 1888 Mills in Tema, Ghana.

    In addition to supporting jobs, the renewal of the TCF provision will help the U.S. achieve many of its regional foreign policy objectives. President Obama’s new “U.S. Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa” describes “sustainable, inclusive economic growth” as a “key ingredient to security, political stability, and development” in the region. The TCF provision, which helps to support stable employment for textile workers, many of whom are women, is making a strong contribution toward that goal.

    U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk recently traveled to Ghana to highlight the Obama Administration’s new Sub-Saharan African Strategy, and to demonstrate the benefits of the TCF provision. In the course of his visit, Ambassador Kirk toured the Lucky 1888 Mills in Tema, Ghana, and met with workers. Lucky 1888 Mills, which uses the TCF provision to export to the United States, employs approximately 500 women in quality jobs with competitive wages.

  • 08/03/2012 8:47 AM

    Ambassador Kirk speaks at the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

    On Wednesday, United State Trade Representative Ron Kirk spoke at the Trade and Development Interagency Intern Panel hosted by the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). The event brought together interns from across the federal government to learn more about the federal government’s trade and development related agencies, and the ways they work to increase economic growth and support U.S. jobs.

    Ambassador Kirk was the keynote speaker; he discussed his role as the U.S. Trade Representative and key events and trends in U.S. trade policy since early 2009. The Obama Administration has made it a priority to listen to Americans, to hear their concerns and suggestions about trade. From this, Ambassador Kirk said the U.S. was able to take actions like improving and advancing initiatives like the U.S- Korea Free Trade Agreement – which won the support of American autoworkers as well as the business community when Congress approved it last year. He also talked about trade and American jobs, and he encouraged the audience of interns to learn not only one language but two, three, or even more. He said good judgment, the ability to solve problems, and the confidence to get things done are key element to a successful career.

    Jon Carson, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and Sharon Bomer-Lauritsen, the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs and Commodity Policy, also spoke at the event.

    Ambassador Kirk takes a question from a member of the audience.