African Growth and Opportunity Act
This week, in preparation for the annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, USTR.gov is reviewing trade preference programs for a look at how developing countries can use trade to help alleviate poverty and raise living standards.
Part of President Obama's Trade Policy Agenda is focused on "upholding our commitment to be a strong partner to developing countries, especially the poorest developing countries." That is why USTR has invested so much time and energy into the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) - a trade preference program that works to bring African countries into the global market.
AGOA is helping to expand and diversify trade between the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa and to build partnerships between U.S. and African businesses.
Now in its tenth year, AGOA expands on the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Program by providing eligible African countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for nearly 6,400 eligible items.
Since its inception, AGOA has helped to increase U.S. two-way trade with sub-Saharan Africa. In 2008, U.S. total imports from sub-Saharan Africa were more than four times the amount in 2001 - exceeding $86 billion - while U.S. total exports to sub-Saharan Africa more than doubled during this period, reaching $18.6 billion.
Thanks to AGOA, imports of non-traditional and value-added products from Africa have increased dramatically. These include manufactured goods from South Africa, apparel from Lesotho, jams and jellies from Swaziland, cut flowers from Kenya and Ethiopia, and processed cocoa products from Ghana.
Countries are eligible for the AGOA program if they have established or are making continual progress toward establishing the following: market-based economies; the rule of law and political pluralism; elimination of barriers to U.S. trade and investment; protection of intellectual property; efforts to combat corruption; policies to reduce poverty, increase availability of health care and educational opportunities; protection of human rights and worker rights; and elimination of certain child labor practices. Forty of the 48 sub-Saharan African countries are now eligible for AGOA benefits.
Through its trade arrangements, USTR works together with other U.S. agencies to coordinate trade capacity building in the region. For example, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) maintains four regional trade hubs throughout the continent that provide training and technical assistance to help African exporters make the most of trade opportunities under AGOA. The preferences supported by trade capacity building assistance are a multi-pronged approach to economic growth and poverty alleviation throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
AGOA eligible countries are:
Republic of Congo
Democratic Republic of Congo
Sao Tome and Principe