The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum is set to kick off from November, 2- 4 in Nasrec, Johannesburg, South Africa in a new effort to cultivate and forge a stronger trade partnership between US and Africa .
The theme of this year’s forum is Partnering to Build a Resilient, Sustainable, and Inclusive AGOA to Support Economic Development, Industrialization and Quality Job Creation.
AGOA forum comes after a meeting between South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa and his US counterpart, Joe Biden. The meeting was held at the White House in September last year.
The high-level event will bring together over 2,000 delegates who will gather in Africa’s economic hub among them a US delegation led by trade secretary Katherine Tai.
Likewise, members of Congress, business leaders, labour and civil society representatives and procurers from the US will grace the event.
South Africa, Trade minister Ebrahim Patel says SA is ready to roll out the red carpet for the US . This comes ahead of the 20th forum.
“What we are seeking to do is provide a platform in the discussion to reflect on the experience that the African continent and the US has had on AGOA.
We also want to look at how we can get more from the trade relationship by complementing AGOA,” Patel said
These is a significant development aimed in maximizing trade potential between US-AGOA Countries. Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa, Constance Hamiliton has expressed hope that AGOA would increase support for the regional integration in Africa.
How AGOA Was Formed
Formed in May 2000, by former US President, Bill Clinton.
The objectives of the legislation were to improve expansion and deepening of trade and investment relationship with Sub-Saharan Africa.
It also helps to encourage economic growth and development as well as regional integration.
The program further helps to facilitate the integration of Sub-Saharan Africa into the global economy.
The original AGOA legislation (Public Law 106-200) makes provision for the establishment of a United States-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (AGOA Forum).
Sec. 105 deals with the AGOA Forum in particular, and instructs the President of the United States to convene.
“annual high-level meetings between appropriate officials of the United States Government and officials of the governments of sub- Saharan African countries in order to foster close economic ties between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa”.
Since its enactment, AGOA has been at the core of the U.S economic policy and commercial engagements with Africa.
AGOA Eligibility Criteria
The forum provides eligible sub-Saharan African countries with duty free access to U.S markets. Currently, over 1800products are in addition to 5000 products are eligible for duty free access under the Generalized System of Preference program.
To meet AGOA eligibility criteria, Countries must establish or make continual progress towards establishing a market-based economy. The countries must also abide to the rule of law, political pluralism and the right to due process.
Additionally, Countries must eliminate barriers to the US trade and investment policies. They should also enact policies that reduce poverty, combat corruption and protect human rights.
Currently, 36 African Countries are eligible for AGOA benefits, despite the program ending in 2025.
African governments and industry groups are pushing for an early 10 year extension. This will help to reassure business’s and new investors who might have concerns over AGOA’s future.
US to evict Gabon Niger, Uganda and Central Africa Republic from AGOA
US President Joe Biden indicated on Monday that he will end the participation of Gabon, Niger, Uganda and Central African Republic from the program.
According to Reuter’s, Biden said he was taking the step due to gross violation of international recognized human rights in Uganda and Central African Republic. At the same time, he cited Gabon and Niger for disregarding political pluralism and the rule of law.
Biden further said he will terminate the designation of the countries. These countries have been beneficiaries sub-Saharan African trade under AGOA, effective Jan.1, 2024.