MIL-OSI USA: Miller Participates in Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Hearing on Renewing Trade Programs for Sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti

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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-WV)

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Carol Miller (R-WV) participated in a Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Hearing to discuss the economic significance and renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and trade programs related to Haiti, which are set to expire in 2025.

Click here to watch. 

Congresswoman Miller began her remarks by highlighting the need to renew and strengthen the AGOA program, along with the importance of strengthening bilateral ties and enacting Free Trade Agreements. 
“The AGOA program has proven invaluable for economic growth of Sub-Saharan countries, empowering African women, and [has] increased opportunities for American producers. It is vital that Congress commits to renewing and strengthening AGOA as soon as possible. As we begin negotiations for AGOA, it is equally important we consider the broader goals of strengthening bilateral ties with countries around the world to counter China’s malign influence. This committee has made great strides in doing so through marking up critical legislation to reauthorize Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), but we can still do better. It is imperative that we remain optimistic toward enacting Free Trade Agreements with our allies, particularly with Ecuador, as we work to renew GSP, AGOA, and the other crucial programs we are discussing today,” said Congresswoman Miller.
Congresswoman Miller asked the Founder and Co-CEO of Do the Right Thing (DTRT) Apparel, Skip Richmond, how the apparel industry has helped poverty-facing citizens in developing countries and what Congress can do to assist in advancing the industry’s growth. 

“One important provision of both AGOA and the Haiti HOPE Act is the inclusion of apparel as an eligible product. Under AGOA, U.S. imports of apparel rose from $696 million in 2000 to $1.4 billion in 2021. In Haiti, apparel industry exports account for nearly 90% of total exports. Importantly, Haitians have shown resilience despite the unrest in their country and are still showing up to work. Mr. Richmond, as an employer of 5,000 workers in a developing country, how have you witnessed the apparel industry lift citizens out of poverty, and what more can Congress do to help the growth of this industry?” asked Congresswoman Miller. 
We’ve witnessed great things, and that’s exactly why we started our business. We recognize the power for good that the apparel industry has. [Most of] everyone we hire has no previous experience. There’s no educational requirement, most of them have never had a formal job. We hire them, and they make a wage that they can live on. We have countless stories of women who joined us at one level and then have been promoted to supervisory or management positions and now are paying for their siblings or others to go to school,” responded Mr. Richmond.
Congresswoman Miller proceeded to ask Mr. Richmond about program certainty. 
“Do companies like yours need a strong sense of certainty of the American preference programs in order to commit to your investments in these regions?” asked Congresswoman Miller. 
“Absolutely. We do and so do so many others who are looking to grow. There are so many new brands. Everyone’s looking to source from Africa, but there aren’t enough qualified suppliers like ourselves. There needs to be more in order to incentivize the brands to place business there,” responded Mr. Richmond.

Congresswoman Miller continued by asking the Senior Vice President of Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Schreyer Chair of Global Analysis, Daniel Runde, about how critical minerals in AGOA could benefit both American producers and consumers.
“Another area of particular concern for me is our reliance on China and Russia for our critical minerals. I have introduced several pieces of legislation, including the End Chinese Dominance of Electric Vehicles in America Act, to close these loopholes and counteract the leg up our adversaries have in this sector. Mr. Runde, I appreciated hearing from you that Africa houses substantial critical mineral deposits. How could inclusion of critical minerals in AGOA benefit American producers and consumers?” asked Congresswoman Miller. 
“If we’re going to have a carbon transition, we better love mining to the tips of our toes. I was at Agency for International Development (AID) for a long time, and I like AID a lot. I was in the international development business, and I worked at the World Bank Group. But asking my friends in the international development community to work on mining projects, they would rather get a root canal than work on mining projects. We need to spend a lot more foreign aid on minerals and mining. We need to make sure it’s clean, that there’s fair money, that people are getting a fair share of the resources and that the people are treated well, labor wise,” responded Mr. Runde.

Congresswoman Miller ended her questioning by asking Mr. Runde about the threat of Chinese trade agreements in South America.

“I want to ask you about the [threat of] Chinese trade agreements in South America and what an individual preference program for a country like Ecuador could mean for competing in the region and the possibility of a full Free Trade Agreement?” asked Congresswoman Miller.
“We absolutely should have a free trade agreement with Ecuador. I think the Innovation and Development in Ecuador (IDEA Act) is ok, but I think China has a free trade agreement. It’s a lost opportunity for us. I’m in agreement that we should have a free trade agreement with Ecuador as soon as possible. They have a pro-American president. There’s going to be an election in Ecuador soon. They’ve been knocking on our door for a while. We ought to show up for our friends,” responded Mr. Runde.