- African Growth and Opportunity Act
TRALAC - Trade Law Centre
You are here: Home/News/Article/US sets sights on improved AGOA

US sets sights on improved AGOA

US sets sights on improved AGOA
Published date:
Monday, 30 October 2023
Sarah Smit

This was the message of a briefing by United States officials ahead of this week’s AGOA forum in Johannesburg, where the trade pact’s renewal will be discussed. 

The trade deal — which provides eligible sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free access to the US market — is due to expire in 2025. Agoa beneficiaries will be asking for the Act, which was signed into law during Bill Clinton’s administration, be renewed for another 10 years.

“When Agoa was enacted in 2000, we hoped that it would be a game-changer for the continent in terms of our relationship with individual countries and with the ability to support regional integration across the continent,” said assistant US trade representative for Africa Constance Hamilton during the briefing.

But she noted that after 25 years very few countries have taken full advantage of Agoa. 

“So the question I think that is going to drive the conversation at the Agoa forum in Johannesburg in just a few days is how can we improve the programme,” Hamilton said.

Joy Basu, deputy assistant secretary at the US bureau of African affairs, echoed this sentiment. She also underlined that fostering ties with economies in Africa is a priority of US president Joe Biden’s administration. 

She noted that the timely renewal of Agoa is also a goal of the Biden administration, but this falls with the US congress. The US is nearing an election in 2024, the outcome of which could radically change Agoa’s prospects.

Hamilton noted concerns that efforts to tweak the Act may result in congress taking its time with it. “But we do believe that not addressing and not trying to change the programme and make it better is a wasted opportunity.”

Agoa beneficiaries are hoping for the earlier renewal of the deal. This will give US investors greater certainty about Africa’s investment prospects, Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said during a briefing last week.

According to Patel, the forum will take place as Africa seeks to redefine its role in the global economy. A key element of this is the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which aims to boost regional trade on the continent.

The forum, Patel said, will allow stakeholders to find ways to get more out of Agoa. To this end, member states will seek to make Agoa’s rules more user-friendly, to add more products to the duty-free list, to attain all beneficiary countries and for Agoa to be complemented by investment and measures that allow more medium-sized firms to access the US market.

Hamilton said she hoped that congress would take the AfCFTA, and the continent’s move towards regional integration, into account in its reworking of Agoa.

“We’re really supportive of the AfCFTA,” Basu said, “and we hope that Agoa can be complementary to it.”

Read related news articles

US-Africa trade deal turns 25 next year: AGOA's winners, losers and what should come next

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) is a landmark piece of trade legislation enacted by the United States in 2000. Its goal is to promote economic growth, development and poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa by providing qualifying countries with duty-free access to the US market for over 6,500 products. By eliminating import tariffs and quotas, Agoa aims to stimulate trade, attract foreign investment and foster economic...

06 May 2024

African trade coalition backs AGOA 16-year renewal bill to boost trade prospects

The African Coalition for Trade (ACT) has voiced its support for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Renewal and Improvement Act of 2024 and credits the bill with creating hundreds of thousands of direct jobs in Africa and the US. The AGOA Renewal and Improvement Act of 2024 which was introduced by Senators Chris Coons and James Risch would extend the bill for 16 years until 2041 and continue to boost Africa’s duty-free status as...

18 April 2024

US apparel and footwear industry supports 16 year AGOA renewal

The American Apparel & Footwear Association applauds Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Senator James Risch (R-ID) for introducing the AGOA Renewal and Improvement Act of 2024.Currently set to expire in September 2025, AGOA is a pivotal trade preference program that provides duty-free access to the U.S. market, fostering economic growth and opportunity between the U.S. and eligible African countries. This program is the cornerstone of...

11 April 2024

US senators will introduce bill to renew Africa trade pact through 2041 [Download copy]

A bipartisan group of senators will introduce a bill to renew the United States' trade pact with sub-Saharan Africa ahead of its expiration next year, an aide to one of the senators said on Thursday.  [    Download it here and download a summary here] The bill was introduced by Senators Chris Coons, a Democrat, and James Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. A cross-party group of...

11 April 2024

US manufacturing subsidies for Africa could help revive AGOA

Experts at the Center for Global Development argue that the unconventional approach could bring billions in new trade opportunities and would fit with US “friend-shoring” efforts. The US should pay ‘negative tariffs’ in Africa – essentially targeted manufacturing subsidies – to help revive its faltering African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA),  according to a new report from the Washington-based Center for Global...

05 April 2024

US and African civil society stakeholders seek AGOA extension

A Civil Society Organisation, Network and other stakeholders from across the United States and African Growth and Opportunity Act-eligible countries have petitioned the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, to consider an extension of the initiative. The CSO made the plea in a letter dated February 16, 2024, titled ‘Petition for Timely Re-Authorisation and Enhancement of the African Growth and Opportunity Act Beyond...

16 February 2024

House Ways and Means Committee leadership statement on meeting with ambassadors from select AGOA countries

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) and Ranking Member Richard E. Neal (MA-01) released the following statement after hosting a bipartisan roundtable with Committee members and ambassadors from several African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) countries. AGOA is a U.S. trade program focused on strengthening economic ties between the United States and nations in Sub-Saharan Africa. “We appreciate the ambassadors from...

18 January 2024

WEF - How has AGOA benefited African countries?

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a trade agreement between the United States and sub-Saharan African countries. Agoa has helped to increase trade and investment between Africa and the US. It has also helped to create jobs and boost economic growth in Africa. African countries are calling for it to be extended. To what extent has the AGOA goal been achieved? The duty- and quota-free access to the US market granted by Agoa...

16 November 2023

South Africa’s AGOA forum: Crafting future pathways for US-Africa trade partnership

Ultimately the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) could be extended by 16 years, that means until 2041, indicating its importance for strengthening Africa’s trade and economic cooperation with United States. That was, in fact, the main focus during Johannesburg’s early November forum that brought together more than 30 trade ministers, astute investors plus representatives from the regional economic blocs and the African Union. At...

14 November 2023

Africa-US trade: AGOA expires in 2025 - what has it achieved in 23 years?

African governments are seeking an extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) beyond 2025. The law was enacted in 2000 to “encourage increased trade and investment between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa”. We asked David Luke, who specialises in African trade policy and trade negotiations, what benefits Agoa has brought for qualifying African countries and how it can...

12 November 2023

Exploring synergies between AGOA and AfCFTA: The case for African exports

Africa is often characterised as a continent poised for economic growth and development. Often, prosperity and development in Africa can be linked back to exports and the benefits that they generate. This brings to the forefront the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and its role in opening American markets to 35 African countries, as well as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which aims to increase socio-economic...

09 November 2023

You are here: Home/News/Article/US sets sights on improved AGOA