US to renew AGOA after 2015 expiration

Category: Africa/International, Lead Story 3

The US government has hinted of renewing the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

AGOA comes to an end in 2015 after Obama signed a continuation of the agreements last year.

According to the Acting US Secretary of Commerce, Dr. Rebecca Blank,the government supports an extension of AGOA.

“Looking forward, the Administration will work with Congress to ensure that AGOA is renewed in 2015, Dr Blank told journalists via a teleconference November 28, 2012 during the launch of “Doing Business in Africa” campaign.

“The administration has stated its strong support for the continuation of the AGOA agreement,” Dr Blank said.

AGOA has been described by the US as the centerpiece of its trade policy with sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr Blank explains that AGOA has been very important in terms of opening US markets for a wide variety of African products…” you know, everything from fruit to flowers to whole sets of products that had not previously been entering the market quite as much.  Textiles and fabrics are an important piece of that as well.”

According to the US Commerce Chief, nonpetroleum exports under AGOA have tripled to nearly $5 billion. Compared to a decade ago, more than twice the number of eligible countries are shipping non-commodity goods under AGOA, she added.

US and sub-Saharan Africa reached $95 billion in a two-way bilateral trade in 2011, an increase of 16% from 2010.

However, Dr Blank says US trade with sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 2.6% of US total trade with the world. “So, we are still far from reaching the full potential of US-African trade – as well as investment. We can and must do more,” she stated.

Ghana is one of the 40 African countries eligible to trade with the US under AGOA. But immediate past US Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Donald Teitelbaum, was disappointed that Ghana and other African countries have not taken advantage of AGOA to export more goods to the US.

Mr. Teitelbaum was speaking to journalists at a roundtable discussion at the US Embassy in Accra Wednesday August 22, 2012 when he was preparing to leave the country after a four year duty tour to Ghana.

“Personally, let me also express my own disappointment that most African countries have not been able to take greater advantage of AGOA. The idea of AGOA was to make the US market open to African manufactured goods. But I think that one of the mistakes is that many African countries are not producing enough manufactured goods to really take advantage of it,” he said.

AGOA was set up to allow African countries to export their products to the US duty and tariff free.

By Ekow Quandzie

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