PORT LOUIS, Mauritius — Africa may be known for its world-class marathon runners, but officials and executives who are assessing the continent’s chance of creating a sustainable garment industry by 2005 — when quotas are to be dropped virtually worldwide on textiles and apparel — said they feel like they’re running a sprint to industrialization.

The nations of sub-Saharan Africa have seen clear economic growth since the African Growth & Opportunity Act took effect in the fall of 2000. For the first 11 months of 2002, the region’s apparel and textile shipments to the U.S. were up 15.4 percent to $1.03 billion, at a time when overall imports were up only 1.2 percent. African and U.S. officials estimate that 100,000 to 200,000 new apparel and textile jobs have been created in the 18 countries that have qualified for AGOA benefits. A total of 38 nations are eligible.

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