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2007 AGOA Report Shows Growth in U.S. Africa Trade

Washington DC -- The U.S. Trade Representative today submitted a comprehensive report to Congress on the results of U.S. trade and investment policy with respect to sub-Saharan Africa.

The 2007 Comprehensive Report on U.S. Trade and Investment Policy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa and Implementation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) notes that two-way trade between the United States and sub-Saharan African countries  increased 17 percent in 2006 over 2005, reaching almost $71.3 billion, with both U.S. exports to and U.S. imports from the region growing.  The report also details the wide range of U.S. programs that are assisting African countries to strengthen economic growth and development through trade.

"The Administration is proud of its efforts to bring sub-Saharan Africa more fully into the community of trading nations.  Trade is the best tool we have to alleviate poverty and spur economic development, and AGOA is a key element in America’s effort,” said U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab.  “Since AGOA’s launch in 2000, two-way trade between the United States and sub-Saharan African countries has increased 143 percent.”

The report to Congress provides an overview of the U.S. trade and investment relationship with sub-Saharan Africa, including trade flows under AGOA.  It also covers trade capacity building and other technical assistance programs undertaken in support of AGOA’s objectives, and summarizes findings of the annual AGOA country eligibility review.  The full report can be found on the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative web site:  www.ustr.gov.

Highlights from the 2007 report:

• Thirty-eight of the 48 sub-Saharan African countries are eligible for AGOA, including Liberia, which was added to the list of eligible sub-Saharan African countries as of January 1, 2007.  Twenty-six of these 38 countries are eligible to receive AGOA’s apparel benefits.

• Since its inception in 2000, AGOA has helped increase U.S. two-way trade with sub-Saharan Africa.  In 2006, U.S. total exports to sub-Saharan Africa rose by 17 percent over 2005, to $12.1 billion.  U.S. total imports from Africa increased by 17 percent to $59.2 billion.  In 2006, over 98 percent of U.S. imports from AGOA-eligible countries entered the United States duty-free.

• U.S. imports from AGOA countries totaled $44.2 billion in 2006, up 16 percent over 2005, largely due to oil.  Non-oil AGOA trade increased by seven percent to $3.2 billion – rebounding from a decline of 16 percent in 2005 – as several sectors (footwear, fruits, nuts, prepared vegetables and cut flowers) experienced increases.

• The United States devoted $394 million to trade capacity building activities in sub-Saharan Africa in FY2006, up 95 percent from FY2005.  Of this amount, trade-related assistance from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) accounted for $276 million.  In FY2006, the United States launched implementation of the five-year, $200 million African Global Competitiveness Initiative (AGCI), which is designed to help improve the competitiveness of sub-Saharan African enterprises.

• The United States was a leading provider of foreign direct investment to sub-Saharan Africa. At year-end 2005 (most recent data available), the U.S. direct investment position had risen 16 percent from 2004, to $14.8 billion.  U.S. direct investment in Africa supports U.S. trade with the region and enhances U.S.-African business partnerships.

• In March 2006, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) re-chartered the Trade Advisory Committee on Africa (TACA) in order to advance AGOA’s goals and objectives.  The TACA advises the USTR on trade and economic policy matters with respect to the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.  Its members are distinguished representatives of the private sector and civil society who have an interest in trade and development in sub-Saharan Africa.  The inaugural meeting of the TACA, chaired by Ambassador Susan C. Schwab, was convened in March 2007.

• The Administration is using bilateral and regional trade agreements to strengthen trade and investment relationships with key African partners.  Over the last year, the Administration signed trade and investment framework agreements (TIFAs) with Rwanda, Mauritius, and Liberia, while simultaneously intensifying cooperative work with existing TIFA partners.  In November 2006, the United States and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) agreed to pursue a new type of agreement – a trade and investment cooperation agreement (TICA) – that could help lead to a free trade agreement (FTA) in the longer term.

• The fifth annual meeting of the U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum was held in Washington D.C. in June 2006, with the theme, “Private Sector and Trade:  Powering Africa’s Growth.”  Ministers and senior officials from nearly all AGOA beneficiary countries participated.  U.S. Cabinet Members, senior Administration officials and several Members of Congress also participated in the Forum.  In addition to the ministerial-level dialogue, the Forum brought together hundreds of U.S. and African representatives of non-governmental entities and the private sector.  The sixth AGOA Forum will take place in July 2007 in Accra, Ghana.

Background

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), enacted in 2000, is the cornerstone of our trade and investment policy with sub-Saharan African countries.  Congress has amended AGOA to improve and expand preferential access for beneficiary countries.  AGOA rewards reforming countries with preferences that have been proven to help reduce barriers to trade, increase exports, create jobs, and expand business opportunities for African and U.S. entrepreneurs.