TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Background to the annual US-Africa AGOA FORUM

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was signed into law by former United States President Bill Clinton in May 2000. The objectives of the legislation include the expansion and deepening of the trade and investment relationship with Sub-Saharan Africa, to encourage economic growth and development as well as regional integration, and to help facilitate the integration of Sub-Saharan Africa into the global economy. 

The AGOA legislation (Public Law 106-200) makes provision for the establishment of a United States-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (“AGOA Forum”).

In Sec. 103, containing the legislation’s policy statements, reference is made to the US Congress’ support for an AGOA Forum.

Sec. 105 deals with the AGOA Forum in particular, and instructs the President of the United States to convene “annual high-level meetings between appropriate officials of the United States Government and officials of the governments of sub- Saharan African countries in order to foster close economic ties between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa”.  

The AGOA legislation requires the President to:

  • Direct the Secretaries of Commerce, the Treasury, State and the United States Trade Representative to host the (first) annual Forum along with the counterparts from Sub-Saharan African countries that have qualified for AGOA benefits
  • The Forum should also invite representatives from appropriate Sub-Saharan African regional organisations and government official 
  • Encourage in consultation with the US Congress, non-governmental organisations from the US and Sub-Saharan Africa to host meetings in conjunction with the AGOA Forum for the purpose of discussing issues that include expanding trade and investment relations between the US and Sub-Saharan Africa and encouraging joint ventures between small and large businesses
  • Likewise encourage representatives of the private sector to host similar meetings in conjunction with the AGOA Forum
  • For the US President to meet “to the extent practicable” with the heads of governments of Sub-Saharan African countries that have qualified for preferences under the legislation, and those Sub-Saharan African countries that the President determines are taking substantial positive steps toward meeting the eligibility requirements of the legislation (as set out in S. 104), not less than once every 2 years for the purpose of discussing the issues described earlier