Eligibility Process and Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa
The U.S. government uses the annual eligibility review process required by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to engage with sub-Saharan African countries on their progress toward economic, political, and development reform objectives reflected in AGOA's eligibility criteria. Managed by the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the review process brings together officials from U.S. agencies each year to discuss the progress each country is making with regard to AGOA's eligibility criteria and to reach consensus as to which countries should be deemed eligible to receive AGOA benefits. Over the lifetime of AGOA, 13 countries have lost AGOA eligibility, although 7 eventually had it restored (see figure). To encourage reforms, the U.S. government will engage with countries experiencing difficulty meeting eligibility criteria and may specify measures a country can take. For example, U.S. officials met with Swaziland officials over several years to discuss steps to improve labor rights. However, Swaziland did not make the necessary reforms and lost eligibility effective in January 2015.