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USA, Africa prepare for sixth annual AGOA forum in Ghana

Published date:
Tuesday, 10 July 2007

The sixth annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum is scheduled to be held in Accra, Ghana, from July 18-19, with the aim of strengthening the partnership for economic reforms and development between the United States and 38 African nations.

Signed into law in May 2000 by the former US President Bill Clinton, AGOA provides duty-free access to American markets for a range of 6,000 African products. Its aim is to spur export-led growth in nations that agree to liberalize their economies.

US President George Bush extended trade incentives in revisions to the law in 2002 and 2004, and 38 African nations currently are eligible for its benefits.

“The forum is an important part of AGOA,” Mr. Todd Moss, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, said Monday in Washington, because "it represents an ongoing dialogue between Africa and the United States to ensure that the benefits of AGOA are realized."

Ghana, he added, has been in the vanguard of countries that have taken to heart this year’s theme, "As Trade Grows, Africa Prospers: Optimizing Benefits under AGOA."

Mr. Moss will join other officials, trade experts and business executives at the forum in offering tips and advice on how to gain access to American markets. The forum also will include a meeting of finance, economic and trade ministers as well as separate sessions hosted by civil society and business groups.

The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs also said that AGOA, the first U.S. trade legislation aimed at sub-Saharan Africa, shows the United States "has made Africa one of its priority regions," adding that, as a result, "relations with the continent are as strong as they have ever been."

"At no other time in the last 50 years has interdependence between Africa and America been greater," and AGOA plays an important role in that dynamic, Mr. Moss said.

Since AGOA’s implementation in 2001, non-oil exports to the United States from Africa under the program have grown on average 18.7 percent annually, he said. "This is the type of economic momentum that we want to keep going, with the aid of experience and knowledge shared at the upcoming Accra forum," he added.

The forum host, Ghana, “in particular is a key partner of the United States, and it’s not just on trade but on a whole range of issues, from peace and security to governance and economic growth," he said.

However, he added, recent deals like the $1 billion investment in Ghana by the Denver-based Newmont Mining Company, offshore oil finds and now direct New York to Accra flights by Atlanta-based Delta Airlines are indicators that Ghana is moving in the right direction.

Small and medium-sized enterprises in areas like textiles, agricultural product processing and information technology assistance also “are very much active in Ghana, and we hope more will follow through," Mr. Moss concluded.

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