AGOA: African Union perspectives on its future
The African Union Commission (AUC), on 12 August 2013, hosted the Ministerial Session of the 12th Annual AGOA Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which was jointly organized by the Government of Ethiopia and the United States of America.
Addressing the forum, the Deputy Chairperson of the AUC, Mr. Erastus Mwencha stressed the importance of the theme, “sustainable transformation through trade and technology”, which was carefully selected in order to respond to key challenges facing Trade and Technology in Africa.
Mr. Mwencha highlighted the fact that Africa and the USA have both benefitted since the establishment of African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2000. “Since the enactment of AGOA in 2000, both Africa and the U.S. have derived benefits from their economic and trade relationship under AGOA, with combined two-way trade between the United States and AGOA eligible African countries growing nearly three-fold, research showing as much as a 340% increase between 2001 and 2012. AGOA has generated about 350,000 direct jobs and one million indirect jobs in Africa, further stressing the significance of trade”, he said.
Officially opening the ministerial session H.E. Mr. Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, took the opportunity to thank US President Barack Obama for his Power Africa Initiative that aims to double access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa. He underscored his strong belief in AGOA to build an industrial economy through Trade and Technology.
Following the reassurance of Mr. Obama regarding AGOA extension, the Prime Minister said “AGOA should accomplish its objective of helping beneficiary countries achieve sustainable transformation through trade and technology”.
Taking the floor, The United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Michael Froman expressed the desire of the U.S. government to work towards the growth of Africa. Recalling his recent visit with President Obama to Africa, he observed that AGOA is at the heart of the economic relationship between the U.S. and Africa.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), enacted in 2000, allows 39 eligible African countries to export most products duty free to the United States. The 39 African countries are: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Cote D’Ivoire, Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.
The Obama administration is working with Congress to extend AGOA beyond the current 2015 expiration.