Workers collect roses at Roshanara Roses flower farm in Debre Zeit, Oromia, Ethiopia. Photographer: JOSE CENDON/Bloomberg
JOHANNESBURG - The African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) has boosted US trade with Africa, which rose 15.8percent to $338.5billion (R4.04trillion) in the past year.

Briefing the media from Washington DC yesterday, Harry Sullivan, the US Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs acting director for economic and regional affairs, said the exponential growth was as a result of trade conducted under Agoa, a legislation allowing qualifying sub-Saharan African countries to export certain products to the US duty free.

Sullivan said African exports to the US rose 24percent to more than $24bn, with agricultural products accounting for $2.7bn in 2017.

Madagascar’s garments exports to the US rose 57percent to $152bn and Ethiopia’s total exports accounted for $92bn.

The US government, which was forced into a PR exercise recently, when Trump characterised African states as “shithole countries”, said it would continue to work with Africa to reduce impediments to trade and investment - and encourage intra-trading among the continent. Sullivan identified the East Africa community as needing more focus in terms of reducing time and costs associated with transporting goods.

“These are really important,” he said, adding that many of the barriers keeping African countries from doing business with each other would be dealt with. He noted that Africa lagged behind the rest of the world in terms of intra-trading, and added: “We are supporting regional immigration. (The US will) help African economies to develop regional value chain to spike global markets.”

They wanted to catapult Africa into the lucrative global logistics trade.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies commended Agoa, saying that over the years it has been enforced, “it has, for South Africa, supported a relatively balanced and growing trade relationship between South Africa and the US”.