Greetings from the Garden State! We’re happy and excited to report that last Friday, President Obama signed S.3326, the Extension of the AGOA Third-Country Fabric Provision into law. This provision allows African manufacturers the freedom to purchase fabric from outside the continent to sew garments for export to the US market, saving 300,000 African jobs and $5 million to the US taxpayer.
You’ve heard the popular saying “it takes a village to raise a child.” Well, it also takes a national village to see that a job-saving trade bill gets passed!
You’ve heard the DC version — now here’s what happened on the ground in one state. Once the alert went out that help was needed to pass the AGOA bill before the fabric provision lapses on September 30 of this year, ONE members from around the country logged more than 1,000 calls into their senators, asking them to cosponsor the bill. In addition, special targeted efforts were initiated in New Jersey and Oklahoma to ensure that bill sailed through quickly and intact. With up to 10 million Africans depending on this provision for their livelihoods, there was no time to waste and failure was not an option.
First, we figured out who could support us: volunteers, grass tops supporters, student communities, local politicians and news outlets. Then Team New Jersey got busy taking action and mobilizing others to do the same. Our volunteers wrote letters and made calls to their senator, urging him to support S.3266 the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), called the Third-Country Fabric Provision.
The ONE volunteer leadership team in New Jersey also found creative ways to keep generating calls, and even asked people to pick up their phones while tabling. Leaders and members from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the Catholic Church, United Methodist Church, local journalists, and state and local elected officials even made calls to the Senator.
These voices, added to our Congressional champions and our AGOA Coalition partners together, helped ensure that this bill would be one of the few bills that would make it through the rigorous congressional process this year.
I’m delighted to highlight a new group that we partnered with this time — African Diasporans in New Jersey. Dosso Kassimou of the Newark African Commission was very active and operated with a contagious sense of urgency as an advocate for AGOA. According to Dosso, “AGOA is very necessary to many African countries who actually now begin their pathway toward real economic development. Without a doubt, AGOA is a powerful piece of legislation that creates jobs and benefits millions of people. Even more importantly, AGOA needs to be expanded to all countries in Africa.” Well said, Dosso!
What happens in Jersey helps African jobs stay in Africa
This story should serve as a powerful and visual reminder of what your efforts can do. Your amplified voices reach the ears of the senators; your tabling for signatures to fund anti-poverty programs result in a signature from the President’s desk. Whether its funding to fight AIDS or saving an African woman’s job so she can keep her children in school, each call, letter, petition signature and meeting adds up to millions of lives saved and lives improved. In the fight against global poverty, each life, each job, each family, each community reached is a milestone. hank you to all the NJ ONE members and partners who weighed in, and to Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez for their cooperative leadership ensuring passage of AGOA bill.