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Chris C.
Democrat DE

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  • Supporting the Coffee Farmers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

    by Senator Christopher A. Coons

    Posted on 2015-12-03

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    COONS. I thank the Senator from Vermont for calling the Senate's attention to the challenges facing coffee producers in the Eastern Congo. The Congress passed the African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA, to advance economic growth and political stability in sub-Saharan Africa. AGOA furthers these objectives by offering trade benefits to countries that meet certain requirements, including commitments to policies that alleviate poverty and reflect market based economic principles. Moreover, as part of this year's AGOA renewal, we included provisions to enhance industries where African women are making strong contributions. Since its inception, exports from AGOA countries to the United States have grown 300 percent. Agriculture is the largest employer in Africa, and in the years to come, farming can play a key role in accelerating exports even further and realizing the vision of AGOA.

    To meet the standards of AGOA and gain eligibility, the Congolese Government must do away with the excessive export and other taxes currently being levied on its coffee farmers. Impeding the growth of their coffee industry and lowering the standard of living of their own farmers is inconsistent with the language, intent, and spirit of AGOA. Lowering this tax burden should be required before the Democratic Republic of the Congo is granted AGOA benefits.

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