News / Africa

Addis Forum to Discuss Future of African Growth and Opportunity Act

AGOA works to improve trade and regional intregration with trade hubs in Kenya, Botswana and Ghana. (USAID)AGOA works to improve trade and regional intregration with trade hubs in Kenya, Botswana and Ghana. (USAID)
x
AGOA works to improve trade and regional intregration with trade hubs in Kenya, Botswana and Ghana. (USAID)
AGOA works to improve trade and regional intregration with trade hubs in Kenya, Botswana and Ghana. (USAID)
William Eagle
US and African delegates will meet next week (August 12-13) to discuss the future of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA. Representatives of government, private sector and civil society will hold talks Monday and Tuesday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Over the past decade, the US legislation has dropped tariffs on 1,800 African imports, including agricultural products, apparel and some textiles. Analysts say it’s also helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs on the continent.
Participants will focus how to improve, and renew, AGOA, which is set to expire in September 2015.

The forum will look at AGOA’s successes and challenges. US Trade Representative Mike Froman will lead a delegation including officials from USAID and the Departments of State and Commerce.

AGOA’s successes are many:  Since coming into force 12 years ago, it has boosted trade between the US and sub-Saharan Africa.  US officials say today the US imports over $35 billion worth of goods from the continent, much of it natural resources,  and non-oil imports have tripled. They include such value-added products as vehicles, apparel, manufactured goods and processed agricultural products like fruits and nuts. In return, the US exports $22 billion of goods to Africa.

US officials say the forum will provide an opportunity to evaluate AGOA and see how it can be improved to boost job creation, growth, and trade –especially in non-oil products.

Florizelle Liser, the assistant US trade representative for Africa in the Office of the US Trade Representative,  said  "The [Obama] administration has already committed to have a seamless renewal of AGOA, but we want to make sure that we know all that AGOA has done. We want to know what the current challenges are to its further utilization, and this public review process will help us to do that. And of course, all of this will be towards the end of working with the US Congress, because AGOA is their baby as well as ours."

The forum will also include an event arranged by the Ethiopian African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program and a US / sub-Saharan Africa Trade Exhibition arranged by the Ethiopian Chambers of Commerce and Sectoral Associations and the Corporate Council on Africa (or CCA). 

John Anderson, the acting assistant secretary for market access and compliance with the US Department of Commerce,  said during the session, the CCA will partner with the United States, African private sectors, governments, and other stakeholders to provide a platform for companies to identify opportunities, execute deals and network with African decision makers across many sectors.

"It will be dedicated to identifying opportunities for the United States and African private sectors to take full advantage of AGOA’s benefits and collectively pursue approaches that could increase the flow of trade and investment into Africa," he said.

US perspective

The views of the US Congress and the Obama administration will be an important part of forum sessions, as will be Africans’ perspectives on AGOA and their goals for economic relations with the US.

Ultimately, Congress will decide whether – and for how long – to extend the legislation. Legislators will also be looking at the domestic benefits to the US, and to what extent Africans reciprocate by opening their own markets to American investors. Liser said some will be comparing US and European access to African markets, now that many African governments are negotiating economic partnership agreements (or EPA’s) with the European Union.

"Those agreements," she said, "are supposed to be finalized by 2014. So even before AGOA has ended this time, the Europeans are already going to be getting duty-free access or lower tariff access into African markets that we’re interested in.

"So here’s the question that people in Congress and our businesses are asking:  Why should the United States, which also has an interest in African markets and also has partners in Africa and joint ventures in Africa – why should we continue to give access to the Africans duty-free into our market while they give better treatment to the Europeans into their markets?  What’s the reason why we would give them 10, 15, 20 more years of AGOA under those circumstances? "

African trade hubs

US officials say the AGOA forum will also give them a chance to highlight Obama administration initiatives aimed at boosting investment and economic growth on the continent. That includes its “Doing Business Campaign” which helps US businesses take advantage of investment opportunities in Africa. 

Liser said an important part of the effort is using regional trade hubs in Kenya, Botswana and Ghana to help small entrepreneurs understand AGOA and make their products competitive on the world market. The US works to bring them to trade shows where they can meet US buyers and potential partners for joint ventures.

"I have been to a number of Ethiopian factories which have been started by Ethiopian Americans, people who lived here for 10, 15, 20 years, [and] have gone back to Ethiopia," explained Liser. 

"One apparel factory that we went to is doing fantastically and shipping scrubs for people in the hospitals and stuff here, doing very, very well, as well as other products that they’re doing, and that is an Ethiopian-American that runs that. So I have been to a number of factories like that in Ethiopia and in other countries that are AGOA-eligible."

Regional integration

The forum will also give the US a chance to highlight its economic goals for Africa, including the creation of value-added products such as processed coffee, teas or fruit juices for export rather than raw materials.  Liser adds that although China has exceeded the US in trade with Africa, the US still remains the continent’s largest market for value-added products. 

Another goal is regional integration, which Liser says would help create economies of scale for regions with small, fragmented and often landlocked markets. 

"We in the US," she said, "are encouraging the Africans to do everything they can to liberalize their markets, to advance regional integration so that…any of the companies looking at establishing a business in one country can say, 'Okay, if I go into Burundi, I will also have access to Kenya and Rwanda and Uganda and Tanzania, because the five of them are in a regional economic community together.' ”

Global value chain

She said integration also brings African countries into the global value chain.

"Maybe in 20 years, the automobiles coming into the US will be made in Africa," she said.  "But I’m saying even right now, we have automobiles coming into the US.  produced in South Africa, lots of them coming in. And one question for Lesotho and the countries surrounding South Africa now is: Are there parts that you could make in that value chain that would go into automobiles that South Africa is shipping to the US.  right now, BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes? Could you make the mirrors, the rugs that go on the floor?  Could Botswanan leather and Namibian leather go into the seats that are in those cars?  And that’s how the global values chains work."

Thirty-nine African countries are currently taking advantage of duty-free exports to the United States under AGOA. They include Angola, Nigeria, Mozambique, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Eligibility for AGOA is based on a number of criteria related to good governance, including laws ensuring human and labor rights, steps toward  opening the economy to trade and investment and progress in fighting corruption. Liser says eligibility is reviewed yearly, and countries that are not part of AGOA today can eventually take part –  if they make the necessary political and economic reforms.

Listen to report on AGOA Forum
Listen to report on AGOA Forum i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More