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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 14, 1999


This week, Congress has a chance to pass a bill that can transform our relationship with an entire continent for the better. The African Growth and Opportunity Act promises a new partnership with Africa based on mutual respect and mutual responsibility.

Last week African nations signed two significant documents - a cease-fire in Congo, and a peace agreement ending the war in Sierra Leone. With these agreements, and with democratic government in Nigeria and a new leadership in South Africa, we have an historic opportunity. The United States must do everything we can right now to support the efforts Africans are making to build democracy and respect for human rights, advance peace and lay the foundation for prosperity and growth.

This bill supports education and job creation so that all of Africa's children can grow up educated and productive. It supports better health care and the flow of ideas and technology that will help Africa's doctors save more lives.

This bill has strong bipartisan support in Congress, nearly unanimous support from the nations of Africa, and brings together a broad group of concerned citizens on both continents - from Jack Kemp and Andrew Young to the African Association of Women Entrepreneurs. It represents an effort to build a partnership with African nations that involves listening and working with them. It serves America's national interests: in creating new markets for American goods and services; in building strong, reliable and democratic partners overseas; and in creating a more prosperous and stable world. I urge Congress to seize this opportunity by passing the African Growth and Opportunity Act.