A Decade (2000-2010) of African-US Trade under the African Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA): Challenges, Opportunities and a Framework for Post-AGOA Engagement

Laura Páez, Stephen Karingi, UNECA, Mwangi Kimenyi, Brookings Institute and Mekalia Paulos, UNECA

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been part of the US international cooperation efforts for Africa since 2000. It entails a series of incentives provided to African countries by the US opening its market for exports originating from these countries. The unilateral preferential trade arrangement also sets a framework for partnerships in the field of trade and investment. The present paper seeks to assess the progress and achievements of AGOA over the past decade with a view to determine how these efforts have contributed to Africa’s long-term growth. Among other elements, the paper critically reviews the perspectives of the public and private sector stakeholders involved in the AGOA forums, the implications of bringing AGOA in conformity with WTO rules, and the challenges the African region faces in terms of complying with standards and SPS in the US export markets, eliminating supply-side constraints and diversifying trade. Finally, the paper also analyses the importance of AGOA relative to other preferential schemes such as the EU-ACP, emphasizing differences with regards to the type of access and its conditions and the resultant utilization rates. The paper concludes with a discussion of the prospects, options and policy recommendations for African countries post-2015, when the current arrangement is expected to expire.