Trade ministers to meet in Ghana for AGOA forum

More than 20 African trade ministers will attend this week's African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) forum in Ghana with Condoleeza Rice, the US secretary of state, opening the forum. They will be discussing whether there have been any benefits due to the act and whether it's time to re-negotiate a better deal for Africa.

It's been seven years since the inception of the AGOA - a US Trade Act. Under AGOA, 38 sub-Saharan countries are able to export goods to the US duty free. It is estimated that two way trade between the US and Africa increased by 17%, amounting to $71 billion.

However trade experts say one has to look at the specific products that are being traded. They say its not been non-industrialised products but rather oil. Yoa Graham, from the third world network, says: "If we look at what has been exported, 95% has been petroleum, 4% textiles and less than 1% agriculture, so really its not been that beneficial."

One third of the African countries are not benefiting from AGOA at all because of certain requirements and restriction's that they can't adhere to.

American Civil Society groups say perhaps its time to re-evaluate AGOA and its strict time frame. Certain provisions expire in 2015.