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AGOA Trade Forum in Senegal to Emphasise Diversity in Trade

Published date:
Wednesday, 13 July 2005

"Expanding and Diversifying Trade to Promote Growth and Competitiveness" will be the theme of the 2005 U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum July 18-20 in Dakar, Senegal.

Better known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, the event consists of three parallel meetings: one with the United States and the governments of the 37 eligible sub-Saharan Africa countries; one between U.S. and African private sectors; and one involving civil-society organizations from the United States and Africa.

The AGOA Forum is the U.S. government's premier platform to explain and advance its trade and investment policies with sub-Saharan Africa. It also provides a venue to explore new ways to foster closer economic ties with the region.

Three previous AGOA Forums were held in Washington in October 2001, Mauritius in January 2003, and again in Washington in December 2003.


The 2005 AGOA Forum, hosted by Senegal, will focus on how eligible countries can diversify their exports by taking advantage of the broad range of products eligible for preferential U.S. treatment under AGOA.

The workshops and plenary sessions aim to: foster greater interest and investment in a broad range of industrial sectors in AGOA countries; provide practical information about how to meet U.S. import requirements and sell successfully in U.S. markets; and encourage those countries that have yet to take advantage of the historic African trade act benefits to do so.

Topics for the AGOA ministerial forum include:

Reinforcing trade and economic cooperation between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa;

Attracting new investment;

Forging new links in public-private sector agricultural cooperation;

Promoting high-value specialty agricultural trade; and

Examining the impact of HIV/AIDS on economic and development rates in sub-Saharan Africa.

The private-sector forum will address:

Future of African agriculture and value-added exports;

Enhanced trade through improved transportation infrastructure;

Eco-tourism - the new frontier and how to build an economy, create jobs and protect the environment; and

Private-sector development.

The civil society forum will focus on important contributions civil society organizations continue to make to the success of AGOA and how they can enhance the effectiveness of AGOA. Civil society participants will discuss the role of civil society and AGOA, the Millennium Challenge Account, and the important link between the education and development.

Briefing reporters June 3 in Washington, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Constance Berry Newman stressed that civil society organizations have "an indispensable role to play in helping Africans take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and as such, will be a major focus" at the event.


The original African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA I) was enacted May 18, 2000 as Title I of the Trade and Development Act of 2000. On August 6, 2000, President Bush signed into law amendments to AGOA known as AGOA II, which substantially expanded preferential access for imports from beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries. AGOA was substantially enhanced and modified by a law signed on July 12, 2004, which became known as AGOA III or the AGOA Acceleration Act of 2004. That act offered tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets.

In the wake of AGOA, two-way trade between the United States and Africa increased 37 percent from 2003 to 2004, to $44.4 billion. U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa increased 25 percent from 2003 to $8.6 billion. AGOA imports including GSP were $26.6 billion in 2004, an increase of 88 percent over 2003. Non-oil AGOA imports totaled $3.5 billion, an increase of 22 percent from 2003. Of the 48 sub-Saharan African, 37 nations are eligible for AGOA.


Commenting on the importance of the 2005 AGOA Forum in Dakar on the eve of the event, Jose Maria Neves, the prime minister of Cape Verde, said his country considers the upcoming forum "very important" and as such, said his government will be fully represented there.

Paul V. Applegarth, CEO of the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreed. Both Neves and Applegarth made their comments July 13 at the Foreign Press Center in Washington while discussing the compact recently signed by MCC and Cape Verde.

"Frequently, foreign aid has been seen as being key to development, but the linkage of trade and aid in development is very important," Applegarth said, stressing the importance of the forum in that regard.

Applegarth said the MCC will also attend the forum, where it expects to sign a pre-compact finance agreement with Senegal. Afterward, Applegarth plans to travel to Burkina Faso to sign MCC's first "threshold agreement" with that country's government.

The Threshold Program is designed to assist countries that are on the "threshold" of Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) eligibility for compacts: if the countries make the reforms needed to improve policy performance, they might eventually qualify for MCA compacts.

Two African countries, Madagascar and Cape Verde have already entered into compacts with MCC.

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