THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
TEXT OF A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT TO THE CHAIRMEN AND RANKING MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEES ON WAYS AND MEANS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND THE SENATE COMMITTEES ON FOREIGN RELATIONS AND FINANCE
December 23, 1997
I am pleased to submit the third of five annual reports on the Administration's Comprehensive Trade and Development Policy for Africa as required by section 134 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act. This year marks a watershed in our economic and trade relations with the countries of Africa.
On June 17, I announced a new strategy to promote economic growth and opportunity in Africa. The Partnership for Growth and Opportunity in Africa opens the door to real, positive change, as only nations carrying out serious reforms will reap the full benefits. Those that strengthen their democracies, reform their trade regimes, and invest in their people will see their efforts pay off in increased trade that will create new jobs, increase wages, spur growth, and improve the quality of life for their people. Also this year the United States Congress has had before it the African Growth and Opportunity Act. This legislation and our initiative constitute a collective American effort to help fulfill the promise of a stable, prosperous, and democratic Africa. I urge the Congress to pass quickly the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
Our goal remains the achievement of sustained economic development for Africa and we continue to be guided by the conviction that economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa will benefit both Africans and Americans. African countries continue to make progress toward political and economic reform, but this progress is fragile and must be supported.
The Administration's Partnership for Growth and Opportunity in Africa has five key elements. First, we intend to provide increased access to our markets for African exports. The most committed African reformers will receive the greatest access. In the future, the United States will be prepared to negotiate free trade agreements with these countries. Congressional action is particularly important if we are to implement successfully these elements of the Partnership. This report discusses the steps we are currently taking to ensure improved access for African and American products in our respective markets and to bring about increased mutually beneficial trade.
Second, we will increase technical assistance to enable African countries to take the fullest advantage of these new programs. This report discusses the ways that we are assisting African countries to undertake reforms that will enable them to grow through increased trade and investment.
Third, we are working to increase private investment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), we have created a new $150 million equity fund to finance increased private investment, and will create funds up to $500 million for infrastructure investment. We also are undertaking an initiative to strengthen the transportation infrastructure in Africa.
Fourth, we will work to eliminate bilateral debt for the poorest of the reforming nations, and maintain our leadership in the effort to reduce their debts to the multilateral institutions. This report highlights the progress we have made working with our Economic Summit Partners and with the international financial institutions to ensure that we have a coordinated approach to reducing African debt and its adverse impacts on African economic reform and development.
Fifth, the United States will hold annual economic meetings at the ministerial level with all reforming African nations. In the last 6 months we have held more discussion with African leaders on trade and investment matters than ever before, and we expect this dialogue will intensify in the future.
The Administration will continue working with the Congress, the U.S. private sector, the countries of Africa, and our trading partners, to implement policies that promote reforms and result in increased trade, investment, and development in Africa.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON