African ministers want United States Congress to push for the reauthorisation of Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) as early as in January next year.
African trade ministers, business people, civil society and trade unions debated the future of the trade agreement between Africa and the US that is due to expire on September 30, 2025 calling for it to be renewed before then.
The decision now lies with the US Congress as it will go through the legislative process. There, they will consider the outcomes of the forum, that took place over three days in Johannesburg.
Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel officially closed the 20th Agoa Forum on Saturday.
Addressing the closing of the Agoa Forum, Patel said this Summit has affirmed the vital partnership between the US and Africa.
“There has been an extraordinary level of support for the continued partnership of Agoa,” he said.
Discussions included looking at renewing and refining the Act.
While some leaders asked for Agoa to be permanent, President Cyril Ramaphosa said a “sufficiently lengthy” extension of Agoa would help strengthen trade and investment.
“It was worth making the case that Agoa has made a difference to African development and had a positive effect in the US.
“Agoa is helpful in fostering regional value chains that is important for African countries to coordinate,” Patel said.
He said Africa was not looking for a complete rewrite of Agoa, but did look at a number of areas of improvement, including identifying Small, Medium and Micro enterprises (SMMEs) and women-owned businesses as an area of focus.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) is the United States government’s signature trade initiative with sub-Saharan Africa.
On October 31, the Biden administration announced the removal of Agoa beneficiary status from Uganda, Niger, Gabon and Central African Republic, effective January 1, 2024.
More than 160 business participants and trade unions were invited to engage on trade and investment matters, with a total of 2,000 participants visiting this year’s forum.
There are about 6,800 products that have duty-free access to the United States under AGOA. By the end of August, $6.90 billion exports were calculated under the Act.