- African Growth and Opportunity Act
TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

What is AGOA?

AGOA stands for “African Growth and Opportunity Act”. As the name suggests, AGOA forms part of United States trade legislation and was signed into law in May 2000 under President Bill Clinton. The AGOA legislation was initially enacted to cover the period 2000 – 2008, but has been extended a number of times since then, most recently in 2015 through an Act of Congress (and following a lengthy hearings process).  It now expires in 2025.

The key feature of this legislation is that it abolished (for imports into the US) import duties on over 6,000 products ('tariff lines'), if these were manufactured in a Sub-Saharan African country that has qualified as a beneficiary of AGOA preferences. While the majority of these products already benefited from the US Generalized System of Preferences, this program was subject to more regular Congressional re-authorization processes which often resulted in periods in-between where no GSP preferences could be claimed (or duty-free claims were deferred). AGOA has provided longer-term certainty to traders. 

The AGOA legislation is unilateral and non-reciprocal. This means that it forms part of US legislation, and the trade preferences relate only to the 'opening' of the US market by way of preferential market access to qualifying exports from AGOA beneficiary countries. AGOA does not require the same concessions from AGOA beneficiaries for imports from the US. 

Prior to AGOA, countries classified as developing and least-developed and listed as GSP-eligible were able to export goods to the US under preferential (duty-free) conditions under the GSP. This is in many ways similar to the GSP that many other industrialized countries offer developing countries. But as mentioned above, GSP reauthorization is required more frequently and last expired at the end of 2020, and by mid 2023 had not been re-authorized by the US Congress. 

AGOA therefore allocated duty-free status to virtually every GSP product, including those reserved for LDC beneficiaries, while also adding preference status to a further approximately 1,700 tariff lines (including textiles and clothing, provided that AGOA beneficiary countries have implemented an AGOA visa system for relevant preferential exports). 


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