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US and African civil society stakeholders seek AGOA extension

Published date:
Friday, 16 February 2024

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 2025.’

They noted that AGOA had played an integral role in creating sustainable economic growth and development, poverty reduction, democracy, the rule of law, and stability in Sub-Saharan Africa and created 120,000 jobs in the United States and about one million direct and indirect positions across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The CSO added that renewing and enhancing the AGOA would help increase exports, create new jobs, and alleviate the suffering of the underprivileged due to current currency fluctuations and inflation across the region.

The letter read in part, “We, the undersigned members of the AGOA Civil Society Organisation Network and other stakeholders from across the United States and AGOA-eligible countries, committed to sustained US-Sub-Saharan Africa trade and economic cooperation hereby petition for your support for the timely re-authorisation/extension and enhancement of the African Growth and Opportunity Act by the 118th Congress.”

According to the stakeholders, it is in the interest of the United States to engage and compete in emerging markets in Sub-Saharan African countries and to use the renewal of AGOA beyond 2025 to address underutilisation of AGOA benefits and reverse the decline of AGOA imports from $78.01bn in 2013 to $28.19bn in 2022.

They argued that fostering strong commercial and political ties with Sub-Saharan Africa can only enhance the long-term economic security of the United States since the region is a substantial consumption hub of the future and one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

In 2002, 2004, and 2006, with bi-partisan support, Congress passed, and the Executive Branch implemented legislative enhancements of AGOA. In 2015, Congress passed the Trade Preferences Extension Act, updating and extending the program to September 30, 2025.

AGOA trade preference benefits continue to help lower the cost of trade, encourage investment in the region, and help create valuable opportunities for US businesses, workers, and consumers.

AGOA has played an integral role in creating sustainable economic growth and development, poverty reduction, democracy, the rule of law, and stability in Sub-Saharan Africa and helped create 120,000 jobs in the United States and about one million direct and indirect positions across Sub-Saharan Africa.

US total goods imports under AGOA totalled $6.7bn in 2021 compared to $8.4bn in 2019. This decline was the result of the lower value of oil imports. However, non-oil imports under AGOA, a key source of new investment and jobs, increased to $4.8bn in 2021 from $3.8bn in 2019. South Africa (the largest non-oil AGOA beneficiary) has exported the widest selection of products under AGOA, ranging from passenger vehicles to citrus products, yachts, and frozen sorbet. Today, only 32 of 49 Sub-Saharan countries are eligible for AGOA benefits.

 

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