U.S. trade with Africa has grown under the African Growth and Opportunity (AGOA) Act – but there is so much more we can do: that’s the message Ambassador Froman delivered today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in conversations and events with partners from civil society, business, and governments from across the continent.
In Africa to lead a multi-agency U.S. delegation to the 12th African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, Ambassador Froman began the day discussing ways to expand Africa’s role in the global economy and how to promote greater U.S. private-sector involvement here. He talked not only with African and American business powerhouses, but also with women participating in the AGOA Women Entrepreneurs Program (AWEP) and with members of African civil society who have ideas about how to grow business and build better lives in African communities.
Building on President Obama’s announcement in June of Trade Africa – which aims to increase Africa’s regional and global trade with the world, including with the United States under AGOA – Ambassador Froman met with ministers of the five-nation East African Community (EAC) and announced new negotiations toward an agreement to ease the flow of trade in the region, and also plans to expand an existing U.S.-EAC trade and investment partnership agreement to tackle red tape and barriers to agricultural trade. The United States will also expand an existing East Africa trade hub to support more investment and business in the region. Trade Africa’s initial focus is on doubling trade within the EAC and increasing EAC exports to the U.S. by 40 percent.
AGOA is the cornerstone of U.S. economic engagement with Africa. The program allows thousands of African products, especially processed, value-added goods from cocoa powder to clothes, to enter the United States duty-free. AGOA uses trade, not aid, to help some of the world’s poorest countries grow, and also provides an important, affordable source of inputs for made-in-America goods. President Obama has committed to working with Congress toward a seamless renewal of AGOA before it expires in 2015, and also to build on the program with new initiatives like Trade Africa and also Power Africa, which will help to light all of sub-Saharan Africa with electricity by 2030.
High-level meetings at the AGOA Forum kick off officially tomorrow. Ambassador Froman and officials from many of the 39 AGOA-eligible economies will start the day with a look at the future of the initiative and how we’ll work towards its renewal. Stay tuned for the next update.