October 25,1999

Roth, African American Leaders Support Africa Trade Legislation

WASHINGTON -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) held a press conference today with distinguished African-American religious, civic and community leaders to express their support for the African trade legislation. Also in attendance were representatives of the sub-Saharan African countries, all of whom endorse the bill.

Among those joining Roth at the press conference in support of the legislation were:

Bishop Vinton Anderson, Presiding Bishop of the Second Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church;

Reverend Clyde Anderson, United Methodist Church;

Hilary Shelton, Director, NAACP Washington Bureau;

Walker Williams, Coalition of National Black Churches;

C. Payne Lucas, President, AfriCare;

Mel Foote, Executive Director, Coalition for Africa;

Ambassador Gebre Berhane, Embassy of Ethiopia and the vice-dean of the African Ambassadors corp, on behalf of all the 47 sub-Saharan African countries covered under this legislation, many of whom were in attendance;

Ambassador Edith Ssempala, Embassy of Uganda;

Rosa Whitaker, Assistant USTR for Africa.

Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the Africa Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee, was also in attendance.

The Senate is currently debating whether to proceed to H.R. 434, "The African Growth and Opportunity Act" and take up Senator Roth's manager's amendment, entitled "The Trade and Development Act of 1999." Roth's amendment would:

• encourage increased trade and economic cooperation between the United States and sub-Saharan African ("SSA") countries

• enhance trade benefits for the countries of the Caribbean Basin

• reauthorize the Generalized System of Preferences program

• reauthorize the Trade Adjustment Assistance programs

At today's press conference, Chairman Roth delivered the following remarks:

"I'm honored to have such a distinguished group with me today, all of whom are here to express their support for passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

"The support for this legislation is widespread. All of these people understand that Africa has, for too long, been neglected in our trade policy. The Africa legislation before the Senate today is an important first step in beginning the strengthening of our economic relationship with that continent.

"As I have said on the Senate floor, this is the right thing to do. It is good for the American people and good for the people of Africa. This is true especially now, as we have seen significant changes for the better in that continent over the past decade. That is why it is critically important that the Senate act on this legislation as expeditiously as possible."