TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Aggregate Bilateral Trade between AGOA Countries and the United States

Total two-way trade (AGOA and non-AGOA) between Sub-Saharan African countries and the United States has grown significantly since the inception of AGOA. African goods exports to the US far exceed imports from the US resulting in a trade balance in favor of African countries. However, AGOA beneficiary countries' trade surplus has been declining, mainly as a result of lower oil prices and export volumes in this sector, which accounts for the bulk of African exports to the United States. Combined two-way goods trade in 2015 was valued at $36 billion (2014: $50 billion, 2013: $61 billion, 2012: $66 billion).    


Combined two-way trade between the United States and AGOA-eligible Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries has doubled between 2001 and 2014. Peak trade flows were recorded in 2008, valued at almost $100 billion. The global financial crisis subsequently resulted in a significant contraction in SSA’s exports to the United States although the period since then has initially seen a gradual recovery in trade flows, before declining again after 2011. In 2014, two-way trade was worth $50 billion, and eligible AGOA countries' trade surplus with the United States had declined to a mere $2 billion. 

SSA exports to the US have consistently exceeded imports resulting in a significant trade surplus in favour of African countries overall; however this surplus has declined and is now very small (2014). SSA's largest exporter by value has traditionally been Nigeria which accounts for 32% (in 2013) of combined exports to the US based on exports from all AGOA beneficiaries in 2013. Angola and South Africa each account for a further 24% of the combined total (2013).

A note on the data: 

Domestic exports” (as used in the table alongside and in the  US-African countries' individual bilateral profiles) measures goods that are grown, produced, or manufactured in the United States, and commodities of foreign origin that have been changed in the United States. Goods may be changed in a US FTZ, from the form in which they were imported, or they may be enhanced in value or improved in condition by further processing or manufacturing in the United States.

This value differs from "total exports” which measures the total physical movement of goods out of the United States to foreign countries whether such goods are exported from within the US customs territory or from a Customs and Border Protection (Customs) bonded warehouse or a US Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ).