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(en) Africa Trade Bill: Negative Impact

From Fred Garvin <fgmp@yahoo.com>
Date Mon, 2 Mar 1998 23:37:02 -0800 (PST)


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------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Mon, 2 Mar 1998 21:06:31 -0800 (PST)
To:            clr@igc.org
From:          Campaign for Labor Rights <clr@igc.apc.org>
Subject:       Africa Trade Bill: Negative Impact

Labor Alerts: a service of Campaign for Labor Rights
To receive our email labor alerts, send a message to CLR@igc.apc.org
Phone: (541) 344-5410       Web site: http://www.compugraph.com/clr
Membership/newsletter. Send $35.00 to Campaign for Labor Rights, 1247
"E"
Street SE, Washington, DC 20003. Sample newsletter available on request.

 
URGENT ACTION:
Africa Bill in U.S. House of Representatives Will Hurt African Workers
March 2, 1998
 
H.R. 1432, the so-called "Africa Growth and Opportunity Act" will, if
passed, eliminate tariffs and quotas on apparel imported to the US
from 42
Sub-Saharan African countries.  The bill, however, does not require
African
countries to protect labor rights or the environment in order to receive
trade benefits.  The bill does require African countries to cut
corporate
taxes, privatize and shrink many government services and grant expanded
rights to foreign investors.
 
The bill has already made it through the Ways and Means Committee and
may
come to a floor vote in the House as early as Thursday, March 5th.  
 
Randall Robinson, President of TransAfrica, has told Congress that the
bill
seems "aimed mainly at benefiting large foreign private investors and
multi-national corporations" rather than the people of Africa.
 
African countries will lose their existing trade status and the
foreign aid
they are now receiving unless they adopt U.S.-dictated economic
policies.
The bill demands that African governments 1) control government
spending in
education, in infrastructure-building and in health; 2) privatize
state-owned industries and provide the same treatment for foreign and
local
businesses regarding who has a right to acquire privatized government
industries, natural resources and services such as the electrical,
phone,
water and communication systems; and 3) reduce corporate taxes and
tariffs,
and remove price controls and subsidies.  These conditions are similar
to
the requirements of the structural adjustment programs of the
International
Monetary Fund.
 
These criteria are unnecessarily rigid.  They do not necessarily
benefit the
majority of people in a country and in fact, usually have devastating
consequences for the poor.  And, in the absence of core labor
standards, as
defined by the International Labor Organization, there is nothing to
ensure
that the wealth generated by increased trade is shared by the workers in
Africa.  Because there are no requirements that local people be
employed in
apparel production, the bill may lead to employment of "guest" workers
from
Asian countries, virtually indentured to their government and their
employer, which does not help African people or African economies. 
This has
already happened in Mauritius, where 5,000 Chinese workers have been
brought
into the Free Trade Zone in that island country to work while
unemployment
is rising among the local residents.  
 
Among the provisions which the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and
Textile
Employees (UNITE!) maintains that a true Africa growth and development
bill
would include are the
following:
 
* Provide debt reduction and forgiveness, to make capital available
within
each country;
 
* Insert in the legislation a requirement that core labor standards, as
defined by the ILO, apply to all workers employed under the provisions
of
this bill, for a country to be and remain eligible for its benefits;
 
* Ensure that infrastructure investment under the bill supports
sustainable
economic development, by including a broad range of local and
grass-roots
groups in planning and implementation.
 
ACTION NEEDED:
 
Call or e-mail your Representative today expressing your opposition to
H.R.
1432, "The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act." Ask her/him to vote
against
this bill when it comes up for a vote. This could happen either
Thursday or
Friday of this week or at the beginning of next week.  The telephone
number
for the House is: (202) 225-3121. To send an email to your Senator or
Representative, visit the United Auto Workers' (UAW) very informative
web
site at www.uaw.org and then click the choice for "Congressional Action
Center." Or you can go directly to the Congressional Action Center at
http://www.capweb.net/uaw  With easy-to-follow directions, you can
find out
the email addresses of your Congressional delegation.
 
For more information, call the UNITE! Legislative Department at (202)
347-7417.






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