It has been a longstanding policy of the United States to aid developing nations and promote growth there by granting them preferential treatment in bilateral trade.
A highlight of this effort has been a special program targeting countries in Sub-Saharan Africa for development and global economic integration, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA. Since its inception in 2000, total African exports utilizing its benefits have increased fourfold, and the U.S. is committed to building on this growth by extending the program for another 15 years.
To qualify for AGOA benefits, eligible nations are expected to demonstrate they are working to improve their investment climates, reduce corruption, respect human and labor rights and the rule of law, expand infrastructure and standardize their trade laws. Thirty-nine nations now take part.
AGOA has transformed to way the United States and Africa interact economically, helping create thousands of new jobs there in industries that benefit from duty-free exports and other preferences. AGOA has been good for the U.S. as well, with members of Africa’s expanding middle class increasingly able to buy American-made goods and African businesses winning greater American interest and investment.
With the AGOA law set to expire in a little under two years, U.S. and African leaders met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this month to begin a dialogue on the program and plan the way forward. Much has changed in Africa since AGOA was first implemented. To keep pace, the program must adapt too.
What has not changed is our country’s commitment toward promoting sustainable growth in Africa. African leaders and U.S. officials came out of the Addis Ababa meeting supporting a seamless renewal of the AGOA program that will provide certainty for all stakeholders in the years ahead.