Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today said the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is an effort to increase economic opportunity within Africa through trade and investment. She was speaking in an interview with Mumbi Kalimba of Radio QFM at Lusaka, Zambia.
Ms. Clinton thanked the government of Zambia for its warmest welcomes that she could imagine. She said the AGO conference was a great success by everyone’s measurement.
“In fact, our Trade Representative, Ambassador Kirk, said it was the best ever, very well organized. And I had an excellent set of meetings with the president and other government officials and then, of course, had the opportunity to be part of this dedication ceremony where the United States Government is turning over the Paediatric Centre of Excellence to the Zambia Government.”-Ms. Clinton
Ms. Clinton announced that te United States is committed to extending AGOA beyond 2012. She highlighted she will be working with the Congress to get it done. She added that she has learned a lot from Africans about what can be done to improve it.
Ms. Clinton also stressed that the calling for the extension of AGOA signify the importance the African leaders are placing on developing Africa and reducing poverty.
She further said the United States wants to see more jobs created, and greater development to occur. She said she believed that AGOA is one of the tools that African governments can use.
“And I was very pleased by my discussions with President Banda and other ministers in the government as to their understanding of what is possible to make life better, especially in rural areas and especially among the poor.”-Ms. Clinton
Ms. Clinton underscored that growth is occuring in Zambia but it’s not broad enough. She highlighted it doesn’t include enough people. She stressed it also isn’t broadly spread across the country .
Ms. Clinton named several things that have to be done. She said regulations have to be removed or limited. There have to be more support systems for businesses so that they can grow. She noted there must be an absolute full-out attack on corruption, which is like a hidden tax on businesses preventing businesses from growing.
She concluded there has to be the breakdown of barriers between countries in Southern Africa so there can be more trade, which would benefit everyone.