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Business Report Shows Increased U.S.- Africa Trade

Published date:
Friday, 21 January 2005

Trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa increased appreciably in 2003, partly as a result of benefits offered under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), according to a report by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), "U.S. Trade and Investment with Sub- Saharan Africa."

U.S. imports from sub-Saharan African countries eligible for African Growth and Opportunity Act benefits increased 36.3 percent to $14 billion in 2003. The largest share came from Nigeria, reflecting the rise in AGOA imports from U.S. purchases of energy-related products, the report said. There was also an overall decline from 2002 on imports in textiles, apparel, and transportation equipment.

The ITC report updates U.S.-Africa trade and investment flows in major sectors for 2003 while providing information on AGOA and discussing major developments in trade and economic policies significant to U.S.-Africa bilateral trade and investment. It also outlines progress in regional integration in sub-Saharan Africa and compiles information on multilateral assistance, U.S. bilateral assistance, and trade-related initiatives for sub-Saharan Africa.

AGOA, which helps African countries build free markets and open their economies to the world by allowing duty-free and quota-free imports of certain products into the United States, was signed into law on May 18, 2000. Since then three addenda and extensions to the original law have been passed, the most recent in July 2004.

Total U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa merchandise trade grew from $24.1 billion in 2002 to $32.1 billion in 2003. U.S. imports from sub-Saharan Africa increased by 39.9 percent to $25.5 billion in 2003, mostly as a result of the increase in energy-related products from Nigeria. Non-energy-related imports increased by 20 percent to $7.8 billion in 2003.

In 2003, sub-Saharan Africa received $8.5 billion in new foreign direct investment (FDI), which is 6.3 percent of global foreign investment flows to developing countries. Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria attracted the largest amounts of U.S. FDI flows, with $823 million and $340 million, respectively. Of the non-petroleum-exporting countries, South Africa and Cameroon attracted the largest amounts of U.S. FDI, with $89 million and $73 million, respectively.

U.S. government agencies continue to fund trade-building initiatives to sub-Saharan Africa, with the $132.7 million granted in FY 2003 representing 17.4 percent of U.S. funding for trade capacity initiatives worldwide. While this is a 19.3 percent increase over FY 2002, many individual countries received less in FY 2003 because the funding targeted more regional organizations like the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).

The full report contains economic profiles for all of the countries of sub-Saharan Africa and sector profiles for six major sub-Saharan African sectors: agriculture, fisheries, and forest products; chemicals; petroleum and energy-related products; minerals and metals; textiles and apparel; and some transportation equipment.

"U.S. Trade and Investment with Sub-Saharan Africa" (Investigation No. 332-415, USITC Publication 3741, December 2004) is the fifth and final in a series of reports intended to assist the president in developing a comprehensive trade and development policy for the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. It is available at

The ITC is an independent, nonpartisan fact-finding federal agency. It conducted the investigation for the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), limiting the study to the 48 countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.) Web site:

Download the Executive Summary from's Download Centre.

Regularly updated trade statistics on include (Click to follow the links):

  • All Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Overview

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.

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