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  • Christine Chumbler
    Congress Wraps Up Africa Trade Bill By Jim Abrams Associated Press Writer Tuesday, May 2, 2000; 10:15 p.m. EDT WASHINGTON ** House and Senate negotiators are
    Message 1 of 3 , May 3, 2000
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      Congress Wraps Up Africa Trade Bill

      By Jim Abrams
      Associated Press Writer
      Tuesday, May 2, 2000; 10:15 p.m. EDT

      WASHINGTON ** House and Senate negotiators are wrapping up
      work on a major trade bill aimed at opening up new trading opportunities
      with sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and the Caribbean,
      congressional aides said Tuesday.

      House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, said the compromise
      legislation could reach the House floor as early as this week, where it is
      expected to pass easily.

      The trade initiative has been under consideration for several years and
      would be a major accomplishment for advocates of open markets, topped
      this year only by a vote later this month on putting U.S.-Chinese trade
      relations on a permanent status.

      President Clinton, in a statement, said he was pleased that Congress
      "appears to have reached agreement on this historic legislation."

      "It's a win for the United States and a win for our friends in Africa and the
      Caribbean Basin. I urge Congress to move as quickly as possible to a final
      vote," he said.

      The bill has been deadlocked in a House-Senate conference since last
      year, when the House passed a bill that extended duty-free benefits to
      African nations and the Senate moved legislation that opened up trade
      with both African and Caribbean nations.

      The general compromise includes the Caribbean and Central American
      nations in the trade initiative. Responding to the concerns of senators from
      North and South Carolina that the bill would cost American textile
      industry jobs, it also puts a cap on the volume of apparel shipments to
      receive duty free treatment.

      Imports of African apparel made from regional fabric would be limited for
      eight years, although the poorest African nations would be able to export
      apparel made from third-country fabric for the first four years.

      The negotiators announced two weeks ago that they had a tentative
      agreement, but coming up with a final version proved difficult as
      lawmakers sought to add new language on such issues as helping African
      nations get AIDS drugs.

      Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., earlier Tuesday urged
      lawmakers to stop trying to tinker with the legislation. "Let me just put it
      real blunt, point blank. You know, there are other people that need to quit
      being obstinate and bring this to a conclusion."

      ***

      The bill number is H.R. 434.
    • Christine Chumbler
      Clinton Helps Africans With AIDS By Jim Abrams Associated Press Writer Thursday, May 11, 2000; 2:19 a.m. EDT WASHINGTON ** After nearly identical language was
      Message 2 of 3 , May 11, 2000
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        Clinton Helps Africans With AIDS

        By Jim Abrams
        Associated Press Writer
        Thursday, May 11, 2000; 2:19 a.m. EDT

        WASHINGTON ** After nearly identical language was removed from an
        African trade bill, President Clinton is using his authority to help
        AIDS-ravaged Africa get inexpensive drugs for treating the disease.

        An executive order issued Wednesday by Clinton uses basically the same
        wording that was struck from the trade bill before it was passed by the
        House last week, 309-110.

        Now before the Senate, the bill had faced the threat of a filibuster from
        Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., one of the authors of the stripped out
        AIDS language

        Clinton's order states that the U.S. government will not try to overturn
        patent laws or policies adopted by sub-Saharan African governments that
        promote access to HIV/AIDS pharmaceuticals and medical technologies.

        U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said the administration
        was "very disappointed" by the decision to remove the AIDS provision
        from the trade bill, prompting Clinton to carry through with an executive
        order he had been considering for some time.

        World Trade Organization rules give countries some flexibility in importing
        and production matters that address public health concerns. In this case, it
        has allowed AIDS-stricken countries to produce or import cheap, generic
        drugs.

        The U.S. pharmaceutical industry had lobbied extensively against the
        AIDS language

        "We recognize that AIDS is a major problem, but weakening intellectual
        property rights is not the solution," Alan Holmer, president of the
        Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said of Clinton's
        action.

        Feinstein, however, said the industry's opposition was based on its desire
        "to squeeze every last drop of profits from the suffering of millions of
        HIV/AIDS victims in sub-Saharan Africa."

        She said that some 34 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have been
        infected with the disease since the onset of the AIDS epidemic, and 11.5
        million have died, 83 percent of the world's total AIDS-related deaths.

        Jeff Jacobs of AIDS Action, a national advocacy group, welcomed
        Clinton's order as a "bold important first step." He said the best medicines
        to fight AIDS "are outrageously expensive. Almost nobody in developing
        countries can afford these therapies, yet that's where the epidemic is
        raging."

        Barshefsky said Clinton's order "strikes a proper balance" between the
        need of African countries to respond to the AIDs crisis and the need to
        ensure that the patent rights of drug manufacturers are protected.

        Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., on Tuesday had anticipated
        Clinton's action.

        "There seems to be a pattern now of him doing executive orders that
        exceed what he should be doing," Lott said at a news conference. "That
        should be done legislatively ... He doesn't make the laws. And so I would
        hope that he would be careful about doing that."

        The trade bill, five years in the making, still faces opposition in the Senate,
        primarily from lawmakers from textile-producing states.

        The bill would expand apparel trade for 48 sub-Saharan African nations
        and 25 Caribbean nations. Clothing made from U.S. yarn and fabric could
        enter the country without duty or quotas.

        ***

        The trade bill number is H.R. 434.

        On the Net: Feinstein statement:
        http://feinstein.senate.gov/releases00/aids*africa*exec*order.html
      • Christine Chumbler
        Hope still flickers for troubled Africa Reports that label Africa the Hopeless Continent fail to recognise that only nine of the continent s 54 countries are
        Message 3 of 3 , May 30, 2000
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          Hope still flickers for troubled Africa

          Reports that label Africa "the Hopeless Continent" fail to recognise that only
          nine of the continent's 54 countries are at war, and less than a third of the
          world's 21,1 million refugees live in Africa.


          BUCHIZYA MSETEKA reports


          PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki's dream of an African renaissance appears to
          have been shredded by war, famine, flood and disease, but analysts in
          South Africa say not all is lost for the world's poorest continent.

          The influential British weekly, The Economist, recently branded Africa "The
          Hopeless Continent" in a cover story hotly debated in South Africa's parliament
          and at business meetings.

          In a message on Thursday marking the 37th annivesary of the founding of the
          Organisation of African Unity (OAU), Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim
          found little to celebrate.

          "I do not have to recount the horrors of the conflict in the Great Lakes, the
          conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the atrocities perpetrated against the
          people of Sierra Leone by the rebels, the long agonising wars in Angola and south
          Sudan, the anarchy prevailing in Sudan and the tension in Comoros.

          "There has also been the devastating drought in the Horn of Africa and parts of
          east Africa which has caused enormous sufferings, including deaths," Salim said.

          Aids is rampant in several African countries. One in 10 South Africans, or some
          4,2 million people, are infected with the HIV virus.

          OAU statistics show nearly half of Africa's people live below the poverty
          threshold. The economy of sub-Saharan Africa grew by less than three percent
          last year.

          A new World Bank report shows that Africa is the only region of the world to
          show an overall decline in per capita savings and investment since 1970.

          But foremost African statesman Nelson
          Mandela, South Africa's first
          post-apartheid president, says there is a
          future and that current problems,
          depressing as they may be, are not
          unique to Africa, but part of a global
          phenomenon.

          Mandela, a Nobel peace laureate and
          one of the world's most revered personalities, disagrees with those who label
          Africa backward, dangerous, dark and hopeless.

          "Africa is not unique. Indeed it has problems, but our leaders are addressing these
          problems," he said last week.

          "There is hope for the continent and we must not despair because of one or
          several conflicts taking place on our continent. We also have problems in
          Kosovo, in Chechnya, but we cannot say because of that Europe is breaking up."

          Mbeki, Mandela's handpicked successor, began before he took office last June
          to champion a vision of African renaissance -- a strategy to boost self-confidence
          and support democratic principles and building growth from that base.

          But Mbeki says rich countries such as the United States must help Africa and
          respond to African problems in the same way as they reacted to last year's war in
          Kosovo, when tens of thousands of Western troops were sent in to end the war
          there.

          "When as an African you see the US respond to Kosovo, naturally, questions
          arise: Why are we not seeing a similar passionate response when a case like this
          occurs on the African continent?" Mbeki asked in the United States last week.

          He said the scale and extent of poverty in Africa was so enormous that in 1999
          Commonwealth heads of government called global poverty a structural fault in the
          world economy.

          Hermann Hanekom, a Pretoria-based senior political analyst and former
          ambassador, supported Mandela's more optimistic view, noting that less than a
          third of the world's 21,1 million refugees, uprooted by war and conflict, live in
          Africa.

          He said that of the continent's 54 countries only nine were at war or affected by
          conflict, which fell far short of the "hopeless continent" label.

          "This is not a dying continent. Africa is immensely misunderstood partly because
          foreign countries do not care to acquaint themselves geographically or politically
          with the continent."

          Hanekom said European and American tourists had cancelled trips to Egypt,
          Kenya and even South Africa on news that war had broken out in the
          Democratic Republic of the Congo.

          "Africa is reported as an entity, and this is a major problem which gives credence
          to misguided views that the continent is about to collapse. You cannot pass
          judgement on an entire continent (based) on activities of a minority," he added.

          Johannesburg-based African banker and investment strategist Justin Chinyanta
          agreed, saying Africa had a brighter future than many believed.

          "There is a future for Africa.... The continent is merely going through a
          post-colonial and post-Cold War era which has led to dislocations," Chinyanta
          said.

          "Africa, however, must accept its own responsibility for a lot of what is happening
          to the continent," he added.

          Chinyanta challenged Africa's educated and skilled youth to join the battle to
          improve political leadership, which he partly blamed for today's problems.

          "Africa's best skilled cadres have avoided politics, leaving it to people without any
          managerial competence. This has to change and Africa's skills have to move to
          politics," he said.
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