South Africa, which is one of 35 countries that benefit from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) - a trade program between the United States and eligible African countries - will host the Forum from Thursday at the Johannesburg Expo Centre at Nasrec.
The theme for this intergovernmental gathering has been hinged on “Partnering to Build a Resilient, Sustainable and Inclusive AGOA to support Economic Development, Industrialisation and Quality Job Creation".
The Forum, established in terms of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) passed by the US Congress in May 2000, is as a crucial platform for strengthening economic partnerships between the United States and eligible African countries.
The Forum will bring together government representatives from the United States and AGOA-eligible countries, alongside key regional economic organisations, the private sector, civil society, and organised labour.
For the first time, trade unions will be included in the forum with more than 80 workers’ representatives registered to discuss matters that impact workers in trade and investment decisions
Discussions during the Forum are expected to primarily focus on enhancing trade and investment ties between the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular emphasis on fostering resilient, sustainable, and inclusive economic growth and development.
To kick off the forum on Thursday, African Trade Ministers are expected to meet with South African Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition Ebrahim Patel and African Union Commissioner, Ambassador Albert Muchanga.
On Friday, President Cyril Ramaphosa will be accompanied by Patel, US Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai and US Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Bridgety on a “Made in Africa Exhibition" which is expected to highlight the diverse industries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Ramaphosa will then officially open and deliver the keynote address at the Forum.
With AGOA scheduled to expire in 2025, the Forum will among others showcase successful beneficiary stories, deliberate on the challenges hindering the diversification of export sectors, and improving AGOA utilisation.
The SA government said the extension of AGOA beyond 2025 was expected to promote inward investment in Africa and provide mutual benefits to the United States and African countries. This extension will further support the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), covering 54 countries and 1.4 billion people.