According to Njokinjoroge Njehu, director of the 50 Years is Enough Network, "if the African Growth and Opportunity Act becomes law it will take away sub-Saharan Africa's right to determine her own destiny. The bill mandates that countries adhere to more of the same flawed IMF austerity programs in order to qualify for trade benefits with the United States." "The benefits would flow to a few U.S. corporations....This is outrageous and unacceptable. Continuing to bleed Africa of her financial resources when the health, social development, and future of her people are at great risk is not only hopelessly immoral - it is also a grievously short-sighted way to treat a trading partner," Njehu observes.
Clinton calls for "trade-not-aid" measures that coincidentally and disproportionately benefit a handful of U.S. investors; as if his "liberal" administration didn't impose a textile quota on Kenya in 1994 that led to the collapse of that nation's textile industry; as if these trade ideas were new. These policies go back to colonial Africa but you don't have to go that far back to find an example. In 1981, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Chester Crocker, gave a speech to the National Security Committee of the American Legion in Honolulu, laying out the Reagan administration's plan for Africa. "We support open market opportunities, access to key resources, and expanding African and American economies" with the aim of bringing Africa "into the mainstream of the free-market economy," he said. Meanwhile, in sub-Sahara Africa, both the number and percentage of hungry people increased under the austerity programs supported by the Reagan administration. In 1970, there were 103 million Africans who lacked basic nutrition (38 percent of the population). By 1991, that number rose to 215 million (43 percent of the population).
The annual growth of the GDP in that region during the 1980s was one percent but the population was growing so fast that the per capita GDP actually declined an average of .8 percent each year from 1980 to 1993. For sure, much of this has to do with complicated internal African problems; but that doesn't excuse the implementation of policies that, for example, force African nations to spend more on debt repayments than on basic education and health. So it might be interesting to note that, according to Oxfam, if Africa spent its annual debt payments on health and education, 21 million lives would be saved by the year 2000. And the United Nations reports that just 12 percent of the $125 billion that developing nations dole out each year on military expenditures - much of which goes to American weapons manufacturers - would be enough to provide health care for all Third World citizens!
But Clinton is suggesting that Africa needs trade, not aid? Can we afford the aid? The National Center for Health Statistics reports that Americans spend between $30 billion and $50 billion each year on diets and related expenditures to reduce calorie intake. Aren't you proud of our contribution to "peace" in Africa?