The future of the African Growth and Opportunity Act will be among the major topics of discussion at a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and an AGOA ministerial, both of which will be held in Washington, D.C., the week of Dec. 12.

First enacted in 2000 and most recently reauthorized in 2015, AGOA provides eligible sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for over 1,800 products, in addition to the more than 5,000 products eligible for such treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences (though GSP is currently not in effect).

To meet AGOA’s eligibility requirements countries must establish or make continual progress toward establishing a market-based economy, the rule of law, political pluralism, and the right to due process. Additionally, countries must eliminate barriers to U.S. trade and investment, enact policies to reduce poverty, combat corruption, and protect human rights.

However, challenges in complying with these requirements have resulted in a number of African countries losing eligibility for AGOA benefits over the years. Most recently, President Biden notified Congress that exports from Burkina Faso will no longer be eligible for AGOA treatment as of the end 2022. Last year the U.S. terminated AGOA benefits for Guinea, Mali, and Ethiopia, which had been a significant exporter under AGOA.

Next week’s meetings will likely address these challenges, as well as longstanding concerns that AGOA benefits have been underutilized for various reasons. But possibly the most pressing issue will be renewing the program, which is currently scheduled to expire in 2025. While AGOA has generally enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress (which must vote to reauthorize it), some are pushing for the U.S. to consider potential changes or even allow the program to end.

Two former members of Congress who helped promote and pass AGOA say that would be a mistake. In a recent op-ed former Reps. Jim McDermott and Jerry Weller said that not only has AGOA offered tremendous economic benefits to both side, it can also play a significant role in bolstering U.S. national security interests in the region. “AGOA is a mechanism to keep U.S. companies engaged in Africa and exporting our business practices, rules, and products,” they said. A new ten-year extension of the program would help “establish confidence in the U.S. as a geopolitical and strategic partner and to counter China’s influence in that region of the world.”

For more information on AGOA issues, please contact Nicole Bivens Collinson at (202) 730-4956 or via email.

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