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EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 15 January, 2003, 13:45 GMT
Africa promised more trade with US
Mauritius beach
It is the first time AGOA has met in Africa
The United States has told Africa that free trade is the best way to move from poverty to prosperity.

US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick
South African auto exports have increased 16-fold over the course of the past two years

Robert Zoellick, US trade representative
The advice came from the senior US trade representative Robert Zoellick at a major conference in Mauritius on trade and development relations between the US and Africa.

He told 38 ministers and hundreds of delegates from across Africa that the United States was committed to increasing trade between the two continents.

They are already linked by the Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA), a law passed in the US just over two years ago to allow a range of goods from eligible African countries to be given preferential access to the US.

'A new activism'

Mr Zoellick said exports had increased and huge numbers of jobs had been created.

He said he was delighted with the way AGOA had been implemented so far, but warned that there were still many challenges to providing a growth stimulus for African countries.

"South African auto exports have increased 16-fold over the course of the past two years," he said.

"In Lesotho, 11 new factories have opened and eight have expanded, resulting in the creation of about 15,000 new jobs.

"I believe there's a new activism in Africa and it's been boosted by AGOA," he added.

Losing status

But despite these successes there is criticism that, of the billions of dollars worth of trade attributed to AGOA, more than 70% is in oil and minerals.

Critics maintain that while this helps big corporations it does nothing for the poorest Africans.

The presence of strong US agricultural subsidies has also been blamed for the lack of trade in agriculture.

Two members of AGOA have been told they risk losing its favourable trade relationship with the United States.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell sent a warning to Swaziland that it could lost its status if it did not attend to issues of democracy and the rule of law.

A similar warning had already been sent to Eritrea.

Mr Zoellick said the best way to address issues of good governance and the rule of law was through openness and trade negotiations.

Lobby groups, aid agencies and private sector delegates are also in Mauritius this week for parallel discussions.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Alastair Leithead
"The presence of US agricultural subsidies has been blamed for the lack of trade."
See also:

06 Dec 02 | Business
15 Mar 02 | Business
12 Feb 02 | Business
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