The 2011 U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (“AGOA Forum”) will take place on June 9-10, 2011, in Lusaka, Zambia. The theme is “Enhanced Trade through Increased Competitiveness, Value Addition and Deeper Regional Integration.” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will attend the Ministerial Forum on June 10th, where she will engage with government, private sector, and civil society representatives from 37 African countries.
AGOA has succeeded in helping sub-Saharan Africa become further integrated into the global economy. In 2010, AGOA eligible countries exported $44 billion in products to the United States. Although petroleum products continued to account for the largest portion of AGOA imports with a 91-percent share of overall AGOA imports, the program has also helped promote new, non-traditional, and value added exports from Africa. This includes products such as apparel, footwear, processed agricultural products, and manufactured goods.
Increased trade is one of the fastest ways to increase economic growth, spur development, and reduce poverty. Building effective regional trade relationships promotes overall economic growth and contribute to increased U.S. – Africa trade.
AGOA also helps support regional economic integration and provides incentives for beneficiary countries to improve their overall investment climates, reduce corruption, improve infrastructure, and harmonize trade standards to help them become more competitive in the global marketplace.
The AGOA Forum is the only annual U.S. government ministerial meeting with sub-Saharan Africa. The 2011 AGOA Forum will bring together over 1,600 participants, including senior U.S. government officials, African government ministers and officials from the 37 AGOA beneficiary countries, African regional organizations, as well as U.S. and African business and civil society representatives. In addition, there are private sector and civil society activities, as well as youth and women’s entrepreneurship events.
AGOA gives trade preferences to sub-Saharan African countries, provided they meet the program’s eligibility criteria, including those related to economic, legal, and human rights issues. Under AGOA, eligible countries can export products to the United States duty-free – nearly 6,500 products from apparel to automobiles, and footwear to fruit. AGOA also provides a framework for technical assistance to help countries take advantage of the trade preferences.
In just a short time, AGOA has achieved demonstrable results, helping increase U.S. two-way trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa to $82 billion in 2010 and diversifying the range of products being traded. Currently, 37 sub-Saharan African countries meet AGOA’s eligibility criteria and may take advantage of the trade benefits the Act offers.
AGOA Helps Africa:
AGOA provides African countries with trade preferences, which in turn makes it easier to export African products to the U.S.
AGOA assists African governments, businesses, and prospective entrepreneurs by providing trade preferences to countries that are making progress in implementing economic, legal, and human rights reforms. Under AGOA, eligible countries can export thousands of products to the United States duty-free. Nearly 6, 500 products are covered—from apparel and automobiles to footwear and fruit. As a result, substantially all African exports to the United States now enter duty-free either under AGOA, the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), or under a non-preference (normal trade relations) zero rate of duty. AGOA has also helped facilitate sub-Saharan Africa’s integration into the global economy.
AGOA provides benefits to all types of companies and individual entrepreneurs wishing to do trade with the United States, provided those companies are operating in an AGOA eligible country. The U.S. government, through USAID, has sponsored training workshops throughout Africa to foster interest in trade with the U.S. and to educate African entrepreneurs on how to best leverage the benefits offered by AGOA.
USAID also offers firm-level assistance, advises governments on improving the enabling environment for trade, helps African countries overcome infrastructure constraints, and works to improve access to finance to enhance Africa’s competitiveness for trade and investment.