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Oxfam Welcomes New Trade Legislation

By Oxfam

Washington, DC -- International agency Oxfam welcomed the introduction today of the "Trade Preference Extension and Expansion Act" aimed at strengthening US commitment to provide opportunities for developing countries to utilize trade as a means of achieving sustained economic growth and poverty reduction. The bill was introduced by Representatives Charles Rangel (D-NY), Jim McDermott (D-WA), and William Jefferson (D-LA).

The Trade Preference Extension and Expansion Act seeks to extend the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and the Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA) for one year. Both programs were to expire this year and provide duty-free access to the US market for specific products from 144 designated developing countries and territories.

"The livelihoods of millions of workers in developing countries depend directly on industries that benefit from trade preferences," said Oxfam America President Raymond C. Offenheiser. "These trade preferences were set to expire, so extending them would strengthen budding sectors in developing countries that have the potential to deliver a way out of poverty."

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"The bill would expand the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) by providing additional duty-free market access to the US for agricultural products, such as dairy, beef, and sugar. It also seeks to encourage diversification of developing country exports from petroleum into other sectors that can contribute to more sustainable development.<

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"Since more than three-quarters of the population of sub-Saharan Africa depends directly on agriculture for their livelihoods, efforts to promote agriculture must be at the heart of any trade legislation with Africa," said Offenheiser.

Oxfam also welcomed a broadened definition of what textile and apparel products are eligible to receive duty-free treatment under AGOA, as well as measures to increase capacity-building for trade and investment in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in the agricultural and garment sectors.

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