Rising per capita incomes, growing urbanization, the need for improved infrastructure, and expanding healthcare contributed to growth in U.S. exports to sub-Saharan Africa between 2010 and 2016, according to a new International Trade Commission report. This report reviews U.S. exports to and imports from SSA, reviews challenges that U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises have in exporting to the region, examines the sectors and markets that have the greatest potential for growth in U.S. imports and exports, and summarizes recent developments in regional integration efforts as well as strategies by AGOA beneficiaries to increase trade with the U.S. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative requested this report as it considers ways to “encourage fair and reciprocal trade with our African trading partners.”

Exports. Aircraft, floating oil platforms, natural gas and components, power generating equipment, and pharmaceuticals were among the fastest-growing U.S. exports of goods to SSA from 2010 to 2016. Other sectors with the potential for increased U.S. exports to SSA include motor vehicles, ethyl alcohol, poultry, and refined petroleum products. U.S. exports of financial services, insurance services, and information and communication technology services show potential for growth as well.

In 2015 goods exports to SSA by U.S. SMEs were approximately $5.8 billion, a decrease from 2010. Over 40 percent of these exports were concentrated in South Africa and Nigeria. Some challenges faced by SMEs are high tariffs and poor protection of intellectual property rights.

Imports. The fastest-growing U.S. imports of goods from SSA between 2010 and 2016 were cocoa, chocolate, and confectionery; apparel; refined copper; catalytic converters; and edible nuts. Growth in these sectors was due to the long-term renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act to 2025, the increased presence of FDI in these sectors, SSA production cost advantages relative to other global suppliers, and expanding manufacturing capacity in SSA. Apparel, edible nuts, footwear, and raw cane sugar show potential for growth in U.S. imports from SSA under AGOA.

Foreign Direct Investment. The stock of U.S. FDI in SSA declined from 2010 to 2016, with mining, including crude petroleum, being the largest destination sector. Sectors with the greatest potential for U.S. FDI in SSA are professional and business services, financial services, textiles and apparel, renewable energy, and mining. The three largest destinations for U.S. FDI in SSA in 2016 were Mauritius ($7.0 billion), South Africa ($5.1 billion), and Nigeria ($3.8 billion).

AGOA. To date, 15 out of 38 AGOA beneficiary countries have prepared specific strategies to identify sectors that have the potential to increase exports to the U.S. under AGOA. Many SSA countries are also a part of regional economic communities working to lessen trade barriers that hamper AGOA utilization.

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