SanMar Testifies Before U.S. Senate Advocating for AGOA Renewal

June 18, 2024

Washington, D.C. — In a pivotal testimony before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, Melissa Nelson, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of SanMar, strongly advocated for the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Nelson’s testimony highlighted the indispensable role AGOA plays in fostering economic growth and job creation within the African apparel industry.

Key Points from Nelson’s Testimony

Economic Impact: Nelson underscored the significant benefits AGOA brings to sub-Saharan Africa, noting that SanMar’s operations in five AGOA-eligible countries—Tanzania, Madagascar, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Kenya—provide employment to over 9,000 workers. These jobs are crucial in alleviating poverty and boosting local economies.

Empowering Women: A remarkable 70 percent to 80 percent of the workforce manufacturing products for SanMar are women, emphasizing the program’s role in supporting gender equality and empowering women economically.

Historical Context: SanMar began sourcing apparel from sub-Saharan Africa in 2009. Over the years, the company has witnessed firsthand the transformative impact of AGOA on local communities and industries.

Investment Challenges: Nelson pointed out that many potential investments in AGOA countries are currently on hold due to the program’s impending expiration. She highlighted the widespread hesitation among apparel manufacturers to invest in vertical integration without the assurance of AGOA’s long-term benefits.

Global Sourcing Shifts: As global companies increasingly seek to diversify their sourcing away from China, Nelson emphasized that sub-Saharan Africa stands to benefit significantly. However, this potential can only be realized if AGOA is renewed promptly for an extended period, coupled with the reauthorization of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) with reimbursement.

Nelson’s testimony is a crucial call to action for policymakers to extend AGOA, ensuring continued economic development and job creation in sub-Saharan Africa. The renewal of AGOA not only supports sustainable development but also aligns with the strategic interests of diversifying global supply chains.

For more detailed insights from Melissa Nelson’s testimony, please refer to the official Senate hearing page under the “witnesses” section.