Bipartisan lawmakers in Congress are calling for the renewal of AGOA
As President Joe Biden hosts nearly 50 African leaders in a summit aiming to boost U.S.-Africa relations, one prominent issue has circulated across the Hill: the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which is set to expire in 2025.
What is it? The 22-year-old program works to provide eligible sub-Saharan African nations with additional duty-free access to more than 1,800 designated products, with the aim of assisting the countries and easing economic relations between the U.S. and Africa.
Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said he met with a number of key officials on AGOA, and that he's pushing "very hard for this" while pledging to work with the officials between now and 2025.
Why discuss now? Although 2025 is a little more than two years away, renewal of this program will be largely left up to Congress — which has a habit of addressing priorities at the last minute. But this isn't an issue that Congress and the White House can neglect: With China strengthening their influence on the continent, U.S. officials are emphasizing the need to further invest in African countries.
"Working closely with Congress, the U.S. will commit $55 billion to Africa over the course of the next three years across a wide range of sectors to tackle the core challenges of our time," national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday. "These commitments build on the United States’ longstanding leadership and partnership in development, economic growth, health and security in Africa over the past three decades."
Efforts by the Biden administration were applauded by Senate Subcommittee Chair on Africa and Global Health Policy Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in a statement — while he also urged for an extension of AGOA "without delay."
The $55 billion investment was further welcomed by ranking member Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who said it "sounds like an encouraging first step."
"The money with that you spend in Africa returns itself because they have natural resources," Rounds told POLITICO. "They have new democracies that are really working hard. And this is an area where, if we can stabilize those countries, it eliminates more areas where terrorism might otherwise begin."