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Africa – U.S Trade: Ramaphosa Asks African Economies to Exploit AGOA

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, has called on African nations to maximize the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

This, he said while giving his opening remarks at the 20th African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, in Johannesburg South Africa. 

Ramaphosa emphasized that AGOA has played a significant role in boosting trade between Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States, but it is not fully utilized.

“While the legislation’s unilateral trade preferences have provided economic benefits for countries across sub-Saharan Africa, AGOA as a whole remains underutilized, ” he stated.

AGOA was first enacted in 2000, and provides unilateral trade preferences to 35 eligible Sub-Saharan African countries. 

Their aim is to strengthen economic development, fostering trade partnerships, and reducing poverty. 

While all 35 eligible Sub-Saharan African countries stand to benefit from AGOA, utilization rates vary widely. 

Kenya and Lesotho, for instance, have high AGOA utilization rates.

88 percent of Kenyan exports and 99 percent of Lesotho’s exports to the United States qualify for zero-tariff treatment.

While AGOA has contributed to increased exports of manufactured goods to the US, President Ramaphosa believes that there is still room for improvement.

“We believe that AGOA’s full potential is yet to be realized,” said President Ramaphosa. 

“The early reauthorization and renewal of AGOA provide an opportunity to not only maintain its success but also make substantial enhancements,” he stated.

The President also recognized Africa’s significance as a supplier of vital raw materials. 

However, he emphasized the real opportunity for industrial growth is turning raw materials into sought-after industrial and consumer products globally.

He emphasized the importance of beneficiation, which is a process that enhances the value of raw materials and fosters economic growth and job creation in Africa.

AGOA and African-U.S. Trade

The President also expressed his hope for a close partnership between the United States and African countries. 

He said this would help in diversifying global mineral supply chains and value addition of minerals in Africa.

He stated that trade should continue to serve as an instrument to facilitate industrialization, job creation, and inclusive growth.

“We look forward to the United States working with African countries to foster an investment-led approach that aims to diversify international supply chains of critical minerals here on the African Continent. 

“We look to continue to use trade as an instrument to facilitate industrialisation, job creation and inclusive growth. 

President Ramaphosa also highlighted the importance of the relationship between Africa and the United States, which extends beyond trade. 

“We value the relationship with the United States, the world’s largest national market, and a country with which we have relationships that go well beyond trade,” he stated.

He acknowledged AGOA’s success in promoting manufactured exports into the United States but emphasized that there is still untapped potential.

Ramaphosa’s Vision for US – Africa Relations

The President also called for AGOA’s renewal, and emphasized the need to enhance legislation to attain its maximum potential.

He suggested improving AGOA by adding more products and simplifying access for small and medium-sized businesses to enjoy its advantages.

Ramaphosa also urged U.S. retailers, importers, and companies to view Africa as a vital industrial supply source, enhancing supply chain resilience.

He encouraged US companies to explore opportunities on the African continent and to set up factories and businesses.

The President’s speech at the Forum is a crucial step in enhancing trade relations between Africa and the U.S.

The commitment to renew AGOA and improve its effectiveness reflects the shared goal for both African and American

The AGOA Forum sets the stage for continued collaboration and growth, with African countries looking forward to realizing the full potential of AGOA’s opportunities.