THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Tuesday, March 16, 1999
THE U.S.-AFRICA MINISTERIAL -- A PARTNERSHIP FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
There are a thousand reasons Africa and the United States should work together – reasons in our past and future. For our part, that means debt relief, and passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act. For your part, that means continuing the work of building the institutions that bring democracy and peace.
President Bill Clinton
March 16, 1999
Today, President Clinton speaks to African leaders on ways in which the United States and Africa can deepen our partnership and strengthen our cooperation in economic development, trade and investment, democracy and human rights at the U.S.-Africa Economic Ministerial being held at the State Department. He also announces a new initiative to provide additional relief to Africa's most indebted nations, and calls upon Congress to expand opportunities in the United States and Africa by passing the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.
Strengthening U.S.-Africa Ties. During his historic trip to Africa last year, President Clinton pledged to support African nations undergoing dramatic transformations towards peace, democracy, human rights and free markets through expanded economic opportunities and stronger cooperation. Making good on this pledge, the President has launched new initiatives to deepen U.S.-Africa ties since his trip last year:
- Established a $120 million Education Initiative to take advantage of new educational technologies and link schools in the U.S. and Africa;
- Launched a Great Lakes Justice Initiative to foster peaceful conflict resolution and prevent future genocide in the heart of Africa;
- Enhanced air links to Africa through a new Safe Skies Initiative;
- Provided $30 million to protect food security in Africa;
- Actively engaged in diplomacy to resolve the conflicts in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Sierra Leone.
Providing New Debt Relief to Africa's Poorest Nations. Today, President Clinton calls on the international community to implement a new plan to provide Africa's most heavily indebted countries with relief which could result in forgiving an additional $70 billion in debt. The President's proposal extends the U.S. commitment to assist African nations implementing strong economic reform programs, and includes the following elements:
- Front Loaded Relief, with a focus on early cash flow relief by the international financial institutions to accelerate debt forgiveness without undermining the incentive for sustained economic performance;
- Deeper Debt Reduction, including complete forgiveness of bilateral concessional loans;
- Innovative Approaches to channel resources from debt service to education, environmental protection, and reconstruction;
- Avoid Future Debt Problems, by providing 90% of new aid on a grant basis;
- New Financing through gold sales by the IMF and additional contributions to the World Bank's trust fund.
A Presidential Call to Action. President Clinton is urging Congress to pass the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, which represents the first step to creating a comprehensive framework for U.S.-Africa economic relations based on expanded trade and investment opportunities and innovative means for providing needed developmental aid.