- African Growth and Opportunity Act
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US says it's unrealistic to make AGOA permanent

US says it's unrealistic to make AGOA permanent
Published date:
Monday, 05 August 2013

The United States has said making the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) permanent was not realistic, but it was possible to extend the enforcement period.

“It is not possible to make AGOA permanent,” but renewing it on regular basis would improve and encourage trade competitiveness and growth, said Ms Florizelle (Florie) Liser, the Assistant Unite States (US) Trade Representative for Africa, in the Office of the US Trade Representative.

She said these in telephonic media briefing to preview the 2013 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, scheduled for August 9 to 13 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The theme for the Forum is: “Sustainable Transformation through Trade and Technology.”

Ms Liser said 15 to 20 years extension was realistic; however, “… making AGOA permanent would not actually help Africans since a lot of countries were already negotiating free trade agreements with particular partners.

“We would rather give a set period of time for extension. I don’t know how long Congress will decide. I think it’s premature for us to say how long it would be…”

Ms Liser said Africans were negotiating two-way reciprocal agreements with Europeans right now, which were expected to be finalized by 2014.

“So even before AGOA has ended this time, the Europeans are already going to be getting duty-free access or lower tariff access into African markets that we’re interested in,” she said.

Ms Liser explained that given the varied opportunities in Africa, member countries could do more on value-added products, and improve on consumers taste and preferences to enable them penetrate the US market.

AGOA, enacted by the US Congress in May 18, 2000, allows 39 eligible African countries, including Ghana, to export most products duty-free to the US.

Ms Liser said the selection of countries into AGOA was based on criteria bordered on domestic policies that geared towards creating friendly business environment, political stability, respect for human rights and commitment to dealing with corruption.

The Government of Ethiopia in association with the US Government, would host the 2013 US-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation on August 12 to 13.

The event is expected to bring together senior officials from the US and AGOA-eligible African countries to discuss a range of trade and investment-related issues.

The event will be preceded by private sector and civil society programmes, as well as a programme arranged by the Ethiopian African Women’s Entrepreneurship on August 10 to 11.

The Act originally covered an eight- year period from October 2000 to September 2008, but an amendment signed into law by US President George Bush in July 2004, extended the duration of AGOA to 2015.

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