Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (03/11/1998)

African Growth and Opportunity Act - Declares the support of the Congress for the economic self-reliance of sub-Saharan African countries committed to economic and political reform, market incentives and private sector growth, eradication of poverty, and the importance of women to economic growth and development.

(Sec. 4) Makes a sub-Saharan African country eligible to participate in programs, projects, or activities, or receive assistance or other benefits under this Act if the President determines, according to specified evidence, that it does not engage in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, and has established, or is making continual progress toward establishing, a market-based economy. Requires the President to take into account, among other things, whether or not such a country is cooperating with the United States in efforts to eliminate slavery in Africa.

Directs the President to monitor and review the progress of sub-Saharan African countries to determine their current or potential eligibility under the requirements of this Act. Makes ineligible to participate in programs or receive assistance or other benefits under this Act any countries that have not made progress in meeting such requirements.

Expresses the sense of the Congress that a sub-Saharan African country should not be eligible to participate in programs, projects, or activities, or receive assistance or other benefits under this Act if the President determines that its government engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.

(Sec. 5) Expresses the sense of the Congress that sustained economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa depends upon the development of a receptive environment for trade and investment through the continued support by the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) of programs that help to create this environment. Sets forth declarations of policy with respect to assistance provided to sub-Saharan Africa through the Development Fund for Africa and the African Development Foundation.

Amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to provide for additional program authorities to include assistance to promote democratization and strengthen conflict resolution capabilities of governmental, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental entities in sub- Saharan Africa.

(Sec. 6) Directs the President to convene annual high-level meetings between U.S. Government officials and officials of the governments of sub-Saharan African countries to foster close economic ties between them. Directs the President to establish a United States-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, which shall, among other things, encourage joint ventures between small and large businesses. Directs the United States Information Agency (USIA), in order to assist the Forum, to disseminate economic information in support of the free market economic reforms contained in this Act. Authorizes appropriations (but with a bar on the use of funds to create or support any nongovernmental organization whose aim is to facilitate trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa).

(Sec. 7) Directs the President to develop a plan meeting certain requirements to enter into one or more trade agreements with certain eligible sub-Saharan African countries to establish a United States-Sub-Saharan Africa Free Trade Area.

(Sec. 8) Expresses the sense of the Congress that reform of trade policies in sub-Saharan Africa that removes structural impediments to trade, consistent with the World Trade Organization (WTO), can lay the groundwork for sustained growth there in both textile and apparel exports. Directs the United States, pursuant to the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, to eliminate the existing quotas on textile and apparel exports to the United States from Kenya and Mauritius, provided they adopt a visa system to guard against the unlawful transshipment of such goods and the use of counterfeit documents. Directs the President to: (1) continue the existing no quota policy for sub-Saharan African countries; and (2) report to the Congress on the growth in textiles and apparel exports to the United States from such countries in order to protect U.S. consumers, workers, and textile manufacturers from economic injury on account of the no quota policy. Sets forth enforcement procedures (including penalties) for violations of the requirements contained in this Act.

(Sec. 9) Amends the Trade Act of 1974 to authorize the President to provide duty-free treatment of any non-import-sensitive article that is the growth, product, or manufacture of an eligible sub-Saharan African beneficiary developing country.

Waives the competitive need limitation with respect to eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Extends duty-free treatment to sub-Saharan African beneficiary developing countries through June 30, 2008.

(Sec. 10) Expresses the sense of the Congress that: (1) the Secretary of the Treasury should instruct the U.S. Executive Directors of specified international financial institutions to use their votes to encourage their institutions to develop enhanced mechanisms which further economic and trade reforms and deep debt reduction under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt initiative in eligible sub-Saharan African countries; and (2) relief provided to such countries under the HIPC debt initiative should primarily be made through grants rather than through extended-term debt, with interim financing for eligible countries that establish a strong record of macroeconomic reform.

Supports and encourages the implementation of specified initiatives through AID and the Trade Development Agency, including: (1) the formation of American-African business partnerships; (2) technical assistance to promote trade reforms; (3) agricultural market liberalization; (4) trade promotion; and (5) trade in services.

(Sec. 11) Expresses the sense of the Congress that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) should exercise its authorities to initiate two or more equity funds in support of projects in sub-Saharan African countries, particularly projects that expand opportunities for women entrepreneurs and employment for the poor.

(Sec. 12) Amends the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to direct the Board of Directors of OPIC to increase financial assistance in sub-Saharan Africa.

Amends the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945 to make similar changes with respect to the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

(Sec. 13) Directs the President to establish the position of Assistant United States Trade Representative within the Office of the United States Trade Representative to focus on trade issues relating to sub-Saharan Africa.

(Sec. 14) Expresses the sense of the Congress that the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service should expand its presence in sub-Saharan Africa by increasing the number of posts and personnel it allocates to sub-Saharan Africa.

(Sec. 17) Amends the Internal Revenue Code, with respect to the deduction for an employer's contributions to an employee's trust or annuity plan and compensation under a deferred-payment plan, to provide that severance pay shall not be treated as deferred compensation until it is actually received by the employee.

(Sec. 18) Expresses the sense of the Congress that, to the extent appropriate, the U.S. Government should make every effort to donate to governments of eligible sub-Saharan African countries obsolete air traffic control equipment, including appropriate related reimbursable technical assistance for such equipment.