U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., was among members of the House who voted last week in favor of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which would improve access to U.S. markets for African garment makers and other businesses.  The bill passed 233-186, but it remains unclear when the Senate will consider the legislation.

      In a telephone interview from her Washington, D.C., office last week, Ms.  McKinney said that she did not consider the act a perfect bill, but that it also would have a direct benefit for opening new markets in Africa.

      The bill also seeks to facilitate U.S. programs designed to stimulate trade and investment with Africa in countries moving toward democratic and free-market reforms.

      Ms. McKinney has been a leading proponent of the Africa Working Group, which is composed of companies located in her district, the 4th, seeking to do business in Africa.

      Some critics of the bill have said that it would create a threat to the U.S. textile industry.  Ms. McKinney, however, pointed out that only 1 percent of the total value of apparel imports to the U.S. last year came from Sub-Saharan Africa, the area to be most affected by the legislation.

      She also said that the benefits to local entrepreneurs and companies could outweigh any competitive threat to textile and apparel workers in her district.

      For more information about the Africa Working Group, call Roland Washington in Ms. McKinney’s office at (404) 377-6900; fax, (404) 377-6909.