The Seventh Forum of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act
(AGOA) will convene in Washington from July 14th to the 16th.
First enacted into law in 2000, AGOA is the U.S. trade and
investment policy that provides trade preferences to designated African
countries that are making progress in the areas of economic, legal and human
But critics said AGOA is yet to fulfill its once promising potential.
The theme of this year's AGOA Forum is
"Mobilizing Private Investment for Trade and Growth in Africa". Deputy
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Todd Moss, said the United
States continues to lead in supporting Africa's economic growth through AGOA.
eligible countries can export any product to the United States duty-free. Right
now that's nearly 6,500 products, from apparel and footwear to fruit. AGOA also
provides a framework for technical assistance to help countries take greater
advantage of trade preferences. Last year 2007, over 98 percent of US imports
from AGOA-eligible countries entered this country duty-free," he said.
said a total of 41 Sub-Saharan African countries are currently eligible to
participate in AGOA. He says total trade between the United States and
Sub-Saharan Africa rose to more than $81 billion in 2007, with $51 billion of
that coming from AGOA imports.
said even though petroleum products accounted for the largest portion of AGOA
imports, non-oil AGOA trade totaled $3.4 billion in 2007, more than doubling
the amount in 2001.
said the Forum provides an avenue for active discussion on how to make AGOA
event would bring together senior U.S. officials, African government ministers,
as well as U.S. and African business and civil society stakeholders to accelerate
the exchange of ideas and information critical to AGOA's continued success and
indeed to Africa's continued economic success," Moss said.
critics said AGOA has yet to fulfill its once promising potential. President of
the Constituency for Africa Melvin Foote said AGOA has been taken over by big
think AGOA had some promise when it came into being. We really were thinking
about African American entrepreneurs, we were thinking about small business, we
were thinking about women-own entrepreneurs. We were thinking about business
that can match more adequately with entrepreneurs on the continent of Africa.
But what has happened basically is business as usual. The larger companies
dominated AGOA where it had impact," he said.
Foote said one good thing about AGOA is that it has kept the United States and
Africa talking every year, which he said has led to other good things for
Africa, such as the passage of HIV / AIDS legislation and support for the fight
of the workshops at this year's AGOA Forum will look at why more African
agricultural products are not exported to the United States and what can be
done to improve that.