U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said Thursday that President Obama has decided that the 40 sub-Saharan African countries already in the African Growth and Opportunity Act program would remain eligible in 2012 and that no new countries would be added as beneficiaries.
“President Obama’s determination today is good news for the people of these African nations, as well as for the American businesses and workers trading with these countries,” said Kirk, calling AGOA “a vital and growing pillar of U.S.-Africa trade policy.”
The President’s determination was based on an annual review that examines whether the countries named in the act had met AGOA’s eligibility criteria, which include establishing or making continual progress toward a market-based economy, rule of law, economic policies to reduce poverty, protection of internationally recognized worker rights and efforts to combat corruption. Countries eligible for AGOA also may not engage in activities that undermine U.S. foreign policy interests or engage in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.
On Oct. 25, Obama signed a proclamation designating Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea and Niger as the newest countries eligible for AGOA benefits.
Total two-way goods trade with sub-Saharan African countries during 2010 was $82 billion. The top U.S. export markets in sub-Saharan Africa for 2010 were South Africa, Nigeria, Angola, Ghana and Ethiopia. The top export categories in 2010 were machinery, oil, wheat and rice, and aircraft. U.S. imports under AGOA, including the general system of preferences program, were $44.2 billion in 2010. Non-oil imports under AGOA totaled $4 billion and included value-added products such as apparel, footwear, processed agricultural products and manufactured goods. The top five beneficiary countries were Nigeria, Angola, South Africa, the Republic of the Congo and Chad.
AGOA was signed into law by President Clinton in May 2000, with the objectives of expanding U.S. trade and investment with sub-Saharan Africa; stimulating economic growth; promoting a high-level dialogue on trade and investment-related issues, and facilitating sub-Saharan Africa’s integration into the global economy. At the center of AGOA are substantial trade preferences that, along with those under GSP and Most-Favored Nation tariff treatment, allow almost all goods produced in the AGOA-eligible countries to enter the U.S. market duty free.
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