USTR Schwab to Attend U.S.-African Trade Conference in Ghana
Washington, DC – United States Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab will participate in the 2007 U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum in Accra, Ghana on July 18-19 where she will discuss ways to enhance two-way U.S.-African trade and investment and the importance for African countries of a successful outcome of the World Trade Organization Doha Development Round.
The annual meeting, also known as “the AGOA Forum,” is an outgrowth of the landmark African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and brings together ministerial-level government officials from the United States and the 39 sub-Saharan African countries eligible for AGOA trade benefits, as well as representatives from the private sector and civil society.
“AGOA has changed the landscape of U.S.-African trade relations. By opening up new opportunities for U.S.-Africa trade and investment, AGOA is helping African countries to use the power of trade and free markets to grow their economies and reduce poverty,” said Ambassador Schwab. “The AGOA Forum is also an opportunity for the United States and our African partners to reaffirm our shared interest in advancing the World Trade Organization’s Doha Development Agenda negotiations.”
“The AGOA Forum allows us to consult with all of AGOA’s stakeholders – including African government officials and African and American businesspeople and civil society representatives – on ways to build on AGOA’s achievements,” Ambassador Schwab noted.
Since the first full year of AGOA in 2001, two-way U.S.-African trade has more than doubled, reaching $71.3 billion in 2006. This includes a two-fold increase in non-oil AGOA imports from Africa -- including apparel, manufactured products, and processed food items – as well as a doubling of U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa.
The theme of the 2007 AGOA Forum is “As Trade Grows, Africa Prospers: Optimizing the Benefits Under AGOA.” Many of the sessions will focus on how AGOA beneficiary countries can diversify their exports and make the most of the broad range of products eligible for duty-free treatment under the AGOA program. Ambassador Schwab will co-chair a plenary session on challenges to AGOA implementation and a session with senior African officials on the Doha Round and other trade issues. Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Karan K. Bhatia will co-chair a roundtable on issues affecting textiles and apparel trade under AGOA.
Background on AGOA
The African Growth and Opportunity Act, passed by Congress and enacted in 2000, is a U.S. trade preference program that is reducing barriers to trade, increasing exports, creating jobs and expanding opportunity for Africans to build better lives. Under AGOA and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), eligible countries can export almost any product to the U.S. duty-free – nearly 6,500 products from apparel to automobiles, and footwear to processed food products.
AGOA has been a measurable success in achieving increased trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. In 2006, U.S. imports from AGOA countries totaled $44.2 billion -- more than five times the level of AGOA imports in 2001, the first full year of AGOA. Much of this increase was related to oil, but non-oil imports -- including non-traditional African products such as apparel, footwear, automobiles, and processed agricultural goods -- more than doubled from $1.4 billion in 2001 to $3.2 billion in 2006. In 2006, over 98% of imports from AGOA-eligible countries entered the United States duty-free.
AGOA has also created opportunities for U.S. businesses. Because of AGOA, Africans are increasingly seeking U.S. inputs, expertise, and joint venture partnerships. U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa more than doubled from $5.9 billion in 2000 to $12.1 billion in 2006, driven in large part by growth in manufactured products exports such as machinery, oil field equipment, motor vehicle parts, and telecommunications equipment.
AGOA is one of several tools the Administration is using to strengthen trade and investment relationships with key African partners. The United States has signed three new trade and investment framework agreements (TIFAs) with African partners over the last year (Rwanda, Mauritius, and Liberia), bringing to nine the number of such agreements with sub-Saharan African partners. The United States is also negotiating a Bilateral Investment Treaty with Rwanda and exploring such negotiations with other African countries. In addition, the United States is carrying out a wide range of trade capacity building activities to help sub-Saharan African countries to take full advantage of trade opportunities, including those available under AGOA, and to increase growth and reduce poverty.