TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

US moves towards AGOA III

Friday, 13 June 2003

Source: Engineering News

White House National Security Council (NSC) director for Africa Jendayi Frazer this week helped launch an effort to expand the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), the landmark US trade legislation that supporters say can provide the market access to counter Africa's economic marginalisation.

Frazer told 500 officials, businesspersons and journalists, gathered at the Mayflower Hotel to inaugurate 'The Agoa III Action Committee,' while celebrating the third anniversary of the Act, that "Agoa has become the centrepiece of our economic policy toward Africa".

Agoa provides duty-free access to the US market for a wide range of products from eligible African countries, while spurring African governments to make their countries attractive to US investment.

The Act was signed into law in May 2000. An amendment consisting of improvements and corrections, termed Agoa II, was passed last year.

The NSC adviser, a professor who is on leave from Harvard University, acknowledged the members of Congress and African diplomatic corps at the reception, pointing out: "Agoa has been an important bipartisan effort of all of us, including the African ambassadors”.

The latter, she said, were "a critical factor in the success" of the original Agoa legislation that was signed into law in May 2000.

Visiting Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Congressman William Jefferson both attended the reception and were both given awards by the new Agoa coalition in recognition of their support of Agoa.

"Agoa has already had tremendous success in spurring the African exports sectors. For Africans, it has absolutely stimulated new trade opportunities for African businesses and entrepreneurs,” Frazer said, adding that it has also created new jobs and brought much-needed new investment to the continent.

The US, she said, is now sub-Saharan Africa's largest single-country export market, accounting for more than one-fifth of the region's total exports.

Former Assistant US Trade Representative (USTR) for Africa Rosa Whitaker said: "We're looking to extend AGOA, for which President George W Bush has already announced his support, beyond 2008. We're looking to strengthen the incentives in the agricultural sector. And we will work tirelessly to get this done".

A document, later issued by Whitaker's office, cited a number of aims of the new Agoa III coalition including: – Enhancing textile and apparel benefits for least-developed countries by allowing some use of non-African, non-US fabric in duty-free apparel, beyond the current 2004 cut-off date;

– Creating a 'short supply' standard for yarn and fabric not produced in the US, but which would be allowed duty-free access if produced in Africa; and

– Exempting African textile and apparel production from economic impact criteria for Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation support.