US clothing brands and retailers are lobbying Congress to rip the heart out of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) next year. African beneficiaries need to push back more aggressively than they have up to now.

Of course, the lobbyists don’t describe what they are trying to achieve so bluntly. All they are proposing, they say, is “modernisation” of the US Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). They concede that Africa might get hurt in the process, which is why they have thoughtfully included safeguards to mitigate the risk of that happening. Their solicitousness begs scepticism.

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