This paper has been prepared as part of the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative’s contribution to the discussions on improving the commercial relationships between the United States and Sub-Sahara African (SSA) countries. Since 2000, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been the centerpiece of these commercial relations. However, currently all parties involved are in agreement that the time and circumstances are ripe to reform the act. Even though they may have different perspectives on reforming the act, all the stakeholders are optimistic that the upcoming June AGOA Forum in Lusaka, Zambia will be a very important event for kick-starting the process of redefining these commercial relationships between African countries and the U.S.
Earlier this year, the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings (AGI) initiated a series of activities— including a conference in April on the future of AGOA—aimed at building consensus on what needs to be done in order to create commercial relationships that are universally acceptable, mutually beneficial and sustainable. This paper is a synthesis of these efforts. It draws from the opinions expressed by participants from the U.S. and African governments, regional organizations, businesses associations, civil society organizations and academia during the April conference on AGOA hosted at Brookings. The paper proposes a set of policy and program recommendations for consideration by African trade policymakers and their U.S. counterparts. The hope is that these recommendations will help map out a way forward toward maximizing AGOA trade and investment opportunities in the remaining period before the act expires as well as formulate more-encompassing proposals that would take U.S.-SSA commercial relations to the next level.