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Message-Id: <m0yA1LG-000Vl5C@hirame.wwa.com>
Date: Tue, 03 Mar 1998 17:09:59 -0600
To: USLIST@rednet.org
From: Robert Naiman <naiman@citizen.org> (by way of Scott Marshall <scott@rednet.org>)
Subject: Oppose the Crane sub-Saharan Africa Bill! -- sign-on letter

Oppose the Crane sub-Saharan Africa Bill!

3 March 1998

1. Please forward
2. Send organizational endorsements to Robert Naiman @ Public Citizen, naiman@citizen.org, 202-546-4996, x302
Deadline is Thursday afternoon. The Crane bill is heading for a vote!!

Dear Representative:

Last week, Rep. Philip Crane's Sub-Sahara Africa Trade Bill (H.R. 1432) was marked up in Ways and Means and is speeding towards a House vote. The undersigned NGOs support democracy- building and sustainable social and economic development in Africa, which is why we strongly oppose the Crane Africa bill.

All efforts to remove the many offensive provisions from this bill have been rejected. Thus, the bill, which covers two dozen African countries, combines the worst provisions of both NAFTA and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) structural adjustment programs. As well, the bill also would establish a long list of new anti-development requirements that only African countries must be annually certified to have met or their existing aid and trade status would be terminated!

This bill is repugnant to us because we support equitable development in Africa. This bill singles out Africa from all other regions of the world to impose special benefits in Africa for multinational corporations and transnational investors at the expense of African interests.

The bill is opposed by the Kasich corporate welfare coalition as a boondoggle. It is opposed by the undersigned churches, hunger groups and other organizations as a threat to Africa.

Incredibly, Crane's proposal would also eliminate many U.S. jobs in the apparel and textile sectors. Workers in these sectors cannot afford to have their jobs sacrificed for some new corporate boondoggle. Of the 1.3 million now Americans employed in these sectors, 40% are people of color and 80% are women.

The Crane Africa bill allows new import access into the U.S. market for goods shipped through Africa in a manner that promotes transhipment into the U.S. of goods from third countries like China. Despite repeated requests to rewrite these provisions, the bill fails to require investment or production in Africa or that work done in Africa employs African workers.

This lose-lose scenario for African and U.S. workers is not surprising given that this bill's trade rules are aimed at assisting a few U.S. business interests who seek to either transship unlimited amounts of Chinese-made goods duty-free into the U.S. or to set up migrant Asian work camps in Africa similar to those in the Northern Mariana Islands for export to the United States.

Even if the bill was not a U.S. job-killer, we would be offended by its placement of special, onerous conditions on African countries and on U.S. relations with these countries. The bill does not increase aid or provide debt relief, but rather shifts U.S.-Africa policy to enforcing privatization, government cutbacks, lower taxes on corporations, and other panaceas of trickle-down economics.

The bill also calls for a future U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Free Trade Area modeled on the NAFTA. Spreading the NAFTA model to Africa is ill-advised, given the devastating effect NAFTA has on the developing nation of Mexico.

In only four years of NAFTA, 28,000 small and medium sized Mexican businesses have collapsed. Under NAFTA, over one million Mexican peasant families have become unemployed, in part by NAFTA's agricultural provisions which removed Mexico's previous safeguards against dumping of subsidized U.S. grain imports. In four years of NAFTA, the percentage of "extremely poor" Mexicans rose from 30% to 51%..

We ask Members of Congress to oppose the Crane sub-Saharan Africa bill. We urge you to instead support a forward-looking U.S. trade policy towards Africa which will promote democratic reform and economic development to benefit Africans, and mutual benefit for workers in Africa and the United States.


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