The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has boosted exponentially the United States’ trade with sub-Saharan Africa and remains the “centerpiece” of U.S. economic engagement with the region, according to Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson.
ahead of the annual AGOA forum, scheduled to take place in Washington June
14–15, Carson said the pivotal economic development program “remains very
relevant today not only for the trade preferences it provides eligible African
countries, but also for the platform it gives the U.S. government to engage in
an economic dialogue with our African partners.”
The assistant secretary
told the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa during testimony April 17
that U.S. trade with sub-Saharan Africa has grown significantly during the past
U.S. exports to the region have tripled from less than $7
billion in 2001 to more than $21 billion in 2011, while U.S. imports hit $74.2
billion last year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
department reported the top destinations for U.S. exports in 2011 were South
Africa, Nigeria, Angola, Ghana and Ethiopia. U.S. exports in machinery,
vehicles, mineral fuels, cereals and aircraft drove the export
U.S. imports from sub-Saharan Africa grew by 14 percent from
2010, driven by an increase in African exports of mineral fuels, precious metals
and stones, vehicles and cocoa products. Major exporters to the United States
were Nigeria, Angola, South Africa, Gabon and Chad.
these strengthening economic ties and said that “increasing two-way trade and
enhancing investment helps to grow economies on both sides of the
While Africa's growth is impressive, he said, it still only
accounts for less than 2 percent of global trade.
“It is my firm belief
that Africa represents the next global economic frontier, and I am not alone in
that assessment,” Carson said, noting that the World Bank projects growth rates
of between 5 percent and 6 percent during the next two years for
Carson said AGOA, which is part of the Trade and Development Act
of 2000, will continue to be critical in supporting this growth. AGOA allows
participating countries in sub-Saharan Africa to export nearly all of their
goods to the United States duty-free. By removing taxes and other trade and
customs barriers, AGOA has helped African countries to increase and diversify
Signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton in May
2000, AGOA was designed to expand U.S. trade and investment with sub-Saharan
Africa, stimulate economic growth, promote trade and investment talks, encourage
economic integration and help bring sub-Saharan Africa into the global economy.
Currently, 40 countries participate in AGOA.
The 2012 forum will focus on
how to improve Africa’s infrastructure to facilitate and increase trade and
development. It will bring together more than 600 participants, including senior
U.S. and African government officials, members of the private sector and civil