Senate Clears Extension of African Trade Preferences

The U.S. Senate voted to extend trade preferences for African countries and renew an import ban on goods from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, clearing the way for the measure to go to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The Senate voted unanimously to pass the bill, which extends for three years provisions allowing duty-free treatment of apparel assembled in the least-developed sub-Saharan countries even if the clothing is made from yarn or fabric produced in China, India or elsewhere. Twenty-seven countries are eligible for the break.

The House passed an identical measure, H.R. 5986, by voice vote earlier today.

Allowing the Africa trade preferences to expire could harm $800 million in African exports, according to a June 2012 Brookings Institution report. The bill also would add South Sudan, which became independent last year, to the list of countries eligible for trade preferences.

In addition to renewing for one year the import ban that the U.S. has imposed on Myanmar since 2003, the measure also would amend U.S. laws to carry out a trade agreement with the Dominican Republic and five Central American countries.

The vote came after the Senate rejected 40-58 an amendment offered by Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn that would have changed the way the measure was financed. Coburn had delayed action on the measure until yesterday when he secured a vote on his amendment.

The Senate bill is S. 3326.

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