South Sudan to be Included in AGOA Bill

A BILL to extend the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) provisions on third-country fabric and on the inclusion of Africa’s youngest country, South Sudan has been introduced in the United States (US) Congress.

If passed, the amendments would extend the current provision on the third country clause on textile products which is scheduled to expire in September 2012 to 2015 when AGOA expires.

The legislation which was presented to the Congress on July 11, 2011 also proposes that the Republic of South Sudan should be included as an AGOA-eligible country following its independence early this month.

The Bill number H.R. 2493 which was introduced by Republican Jim McDermott and others reads in part: “A Bill to amend the African Growth and Opportunity Act to extend the third country fabric programme, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled.”

The proposed legislation would extend a cardinal piece of the AGOA legislation – considered critical for the garment industry in a number of AGOA-beneficiary countries like Kenya and Lesotho to allow producers to continue sourcing their fabric requirements from abroad.

The matter is also considered urgent, as large international buyers plan their sourcing a minimum of six-12 months in advance.

Uncertainty had surrounded the future of the industry following the scheduled expiry of the clause.

While African clothing exporters account for only a small fraction of the total US garment imports, from an African perspective this provision remains an important lifeline for the sector.

At the recent AGOA Forum held in Lusaka, the African Clothing and Textile Industries Federation (ACTIF) and representatives of eligible countries called for the extension of the third-country apparel provisions.

The AGOA itself is schedules to expire in 2015 amid calls for its extension.