Jun 13

Past Event

The African Growth and Opportunity Act: Looking Back, Looking Forward



  • Bill Clinton: Managing Food Security Will Accelerate Economic Growth in Africa

    President Bill Clinton, founder, William J. Clinton Foundation: The goal is to help Africa feed its people and manage its food insecurities, which, in turn, will accelerate economic growth  in other areas and contribute to an overall increase in

    Mwangi S. Kimenyi

  • Bill Clinton: Foreign Aid in Africa

    President Bill Clinton, founder, William J. Clinton Foundation: No country can work its way out of poverty with aid alone.

    Mwangi S. Kimenyi

  • Amb. Ronald Kirk: Challenges for AGOA

    Ambassador Ronald Kirk, USTR: There are several persistent challenges that have prevented full implementation of AGOA in nearly every African nation, these include: poor infrastructure, regulatory obstacles and transportation issues.

    Mwangi S. Kimenyi

  • Amb. Ronald Kirk: AGOA's Economic Impact

    Ambassador Ronald Kirk, USTR: AGOA has had a measurable impact on trade between the U.S. and Africa; and has helped many African firms foster economic reforms and better business practices.

    Mwangi S. Kimenyi

Full Event


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In May 2000, President Bill Clinton, as a part of his leadership in enhancing ties between the U.S. and Africa, signed into law the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a historic piece of legislation that provides preferential duty-free access to U.S. markets for nearly 6,400 product lines from sub-Saharan Africa. With the goal of both supporting business in the United States and critical political and economic reforms in African countries, AGOA has created an estimated 300,000 jobs on the continent and contributed to the region’s emergence as one of the world’s fastest growing markets, with total U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa tripling between 2001 and 2011. Today, AGOA stands as the cornerstone of the U.S.-African commercial relationship.

AGOA is set to expire in 2015 and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the U.S. Trade Representative Ronald Kirk have called for a "seamless renewal" of the act. This commitment to extending AGOA has led to a new policy debate over the length of the extension, how to strengthen the act, and how the U.S. can increase its commercial presence on the continent given the expanding influence of China, India, Brazil and other large emerging economies.

On June 13, the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings hosted a discussion on the future of AGOA and the U.S. commercial relationship with Africa. Panelists and speakers discussed advancing AGOA and deepening U.S. trade and investment in Africa. This event preceded the 11th annual AGOA Forum, taking place in Washington later in the week.

Participants followed the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #AGIAGOA.

Event Agenda

  • Opening Plenary

  • Featured Speakers

    • Ambassador Ronald Kirk

      United States Trade Representative

    • His Excellency Erastus Mwencha

      Deputy Chairperson

      The African Union

  • Keynote Address Introduction

  • Keynote Address: Capturing Opportunity in Africa—AGOA and the Development Agenda

  • Panel Discussion: Strengthening AGOA and Deepening Commercial Ties Between the U.S. and Africa

    • Moderator

      Witney Schneidman

      Nonresident Fellow

      The Brookings Institution

    • Stephen Hayes

      President and CEO

      Corporate Council on Africa

    • Abdoulie Janneh

      Under-Secretary General

      United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

    • The Honorable Hannah Tetteh

      Minister of Trade

      Republic of Ghana

    • Rosa Whitaker

      President and CEO

      The Whitaker Group


June 13, 2012

1:30 PM - 5:30 PM EDT

Brookings Institution

Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.


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