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US might continue AGOA till 2025, as African exports hit $44b

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The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which the US government describes as the centerpiece of its trade policy with sub-Saharan Africa due to end in 2015 is likely to be extended for another 10 years to 2025, as exports of products from African countries to the US under the scheme reaches $44 billion, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs has said.

He said the total value of exports from Africa to the US has reached a total value of $65 billion and $44 billion of that value comes from exports under AGOA. However, only $4 billion of the value comes from non-oil products.

AGOA which allows eligible countries to export duty and quota free to the US market was passed into law in 2000 as part of the US government’s philosophy to engage and not to aid African countries, according to Florizelle Liser, the Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa in the Office of the US Trade Representative

“AGOA was to give Africa a leg up”, she said during a teleconference with some journalists across Africa including Ghana last Tuesday.

There are 37 African countries on the AGOA scheme and Ghana is one of them. Last year 2010, the country exported goods worth $273 million to the US. Most of the items are gold, cocoa products, textiles, vegetables, fruits and handicrafts.

Exports from Ghana under AGOA for the first quarter of 2011 according to US Embassy officials in Accra has doubled above 2010 levels to about $400 million.

In response to questions, Ms. Liser said “Simply opening markets for African products is not sufficient and so we are now offering help to African entrepreneurs to be more competitive.”

From June 9th to 10th, 2011, the 2011 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum will take place in Zambia.

The Forum which marks the 10th year of AGOA will see government officials, business leaders, and civil society from African countries and the United States meeting  to promote trade, business, and investment opportunities that sustain economic development in Africa, a press release from the AGOA Secretariat copied to ghanabusinessnews.com has said.

The Forum’s theme is “Enhanced Trade Through Increased Competitiveness, Value Addition and Deeper Regional Integration.”

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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