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.