- African Growth and Opportunity Act
TRALAC - Trade Law Centre
You are here: Home/News/Article/AGOA Forum Opens in Senegal

AGOA Forum Opens in Senegal

Published date:
Monday, 18 July 2005
United States Department of State

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade officially opened the African Growth and Opportunity (AGOA) Forum July 18, declaring that AGOA is a "shared vision of partnership" between the United States and Africa that will link Africa to the global economy and make it better able to achieve long-term economic growth and development.

In his pre-recorded remarks to the forum, President Bush greeted the delegates and pledged his intention to launch the African Global Competitiveness Initiative, which he said "will give a record number of entrepreneurs access to the information and advice they need to succeed in business and foreign trade."

Speaking to a packed plenary session festooned with the flags of the 37 participating AGOA nations, Wade said AGOA is helping to raise the continent of Africa from poverty through the promotion of the private sector and expanded trade.

Wade (whose remarks were translated from French to English) said the fight against poverty is not won by giving charity but through the achievement of expanded trade and economic growth.

Directing his comments to the delegates in the room, Wade said "You have come â-oe to pave the way for the future" of Africa at this "major event" which will express "our common assumption for a better world."

Wade praised the AGOA Forum for being representative of the joint U.S.-African commitment to a "reinvigorated Africa."

Then, praising remarks by President Bush that preceded his, Wade said Bush's message is one of optimism, but one that is also based on the conviction that Africa has the material, moral and human wealth to grow.


In his remarks, Bush greeted the delegates and saluted them for gathering to discuss "our shared vision for an Africa that is home to democracy, prosperity and opportunity."

"This is a hopeful moment in the history of Africa," he said. "The governments of many African nations are being transformed. Many African economies are vibrant and growing, and in sub-Sahara Africa as a whole economic growth is now at its highest level in eight years."

"An important part of its rising prosperity is the African Growth and Opportunity Act," Bush told his audience. "This wise legislation is reducing barriers to trade, increasing exports, creating jobs and expanding opportunity for Africans and Americans alike."

"AGOA is getting results. Political reforms in Africa have inspired confidence among American investors. Last year," he noted, "U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa increased 25 percent and America's imports from AGOA's countries rose 88 percent."

"The success of AGOA is proving that open trade and international investment are the surest and fastest ways for Africa to make progress," the president said, adding that he was proud last year to sign into law an extension of benefits of the AGOA legislation, which he called a "vital program."

Discussions at the AGOA Forum, he said, are vital to the further expansion and diversification trade so economic growth can be sustained.

"I am confident that your efforts will lead to greater interest and investment in AGOA nations," Bush said.

"Africa is a continent of promise, of talent and opportunity and together we will help the people of Africa realize the bright future they deserve," he said.


Also addressing the forum's opening was Mike Johanns, the U.S. secretary of agriculture, who told the delegates the progress made at this AGOA Forum will "profoundly affect the future of many African countries by improving the opportunities and market access available to your people."

He reiterated the theme of the forum: "Expanding and Diversifying Trade to Promote Growth and Competitiveness."

Johanns said he is at the forum because he sees so much opportunity in the field of agriculture, but he readily acknowledged that "moving from opportunity to exports requires hard work, investment and technical expertise."

He called AGOA "central to the Bush administration's objectives as it encourages trade and investment and encourages governments to implement good policies."

AGOA has helped to boost two-way trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa to over $44 billion in 2004. U.S. imports from sub-Saharan Africa have increased by over 50 percent from 2000 to 2004, have helped make the United States become a "destination" for exports from sub-Saharan Africa, and have boosted foreign investment by the United States and other nations, according to President Bush.

"The United States," Bush said, "now accounts for more than 24 percent of exports, the largest single country share of all of Africa's major trading partners. Non-oil AGOA imports including apparel, automobiles and processed agricultural goods have more than doubled since 2001, reaching $3.5 billion in 2004."

This new access to the U.S. market through AGOA has created thousands of new jobs in Africa and attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in new investment, he said.

Secretary Johanns reminded the delegates that the G8 leaders at their recent summit in Scotland pledged to increase development aid to Africa by $50 billion and also agreed to an ambitious debt cancellation package for heavily indebted poor countries.

Additionally, he said, the United States has pledged new resources to education and to combat malaria in Africa, in addition to the largest international health initiative in history - President Bush's five year, $15 billion program to combat HIV/AIDS.

Johanns reiterated that although aid and debt relief can create better conditions for development, it is trade that provides the engine of development.

"The poor of the world," the agriculture secretary told his audience, "do not experience trade as globalization. They experience trade as running water, or electrical power. It comes as decent housing, access to education and better health care for their families."

Turning to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Johanns reiterated President Bush's observation that the WTO Doha negotiations stand as the most practical and important anti-poverty initiative in the world.

He said the United States is "prepared to eliminate agricultural subsidies and has challenged the rest of the world to say that they are ready to do the same."

"It is critical that we seize the moment that now presents itself for genuine reform, especially in agriculture," the secretary said, warning that if this is not achieved, "it may be a long time before another opportunity comes to us again."

The AGOA Forum is the U.S. government's premier platform to articulate and advance its trade and investment policies with sub-Saharan Africa and serves as a place to explore new ways to foster closer economic ties with the region.

For additional information on U.S. initiatives to assist the continent, see U.S. Aid to Africa and Millennium Challenge Account.

You are here: Home/News/Article/AGOA Forum Opens in Senegal