USTR Froman Looks to Next Steps in Review, Renewal of African Growth and Opportunity Act

August 13, 2013

USTR Froman Looks to Next Steps in Review, Renewal of African Growth and Opportunity Act

At 12th AGOA Forum, USTR Froman Also Highlights Trade Africa, Power Africa, Obama Administration’s Commitment to Economic Engagement with Africa 

Washington, D.C. - Today, United States Trade Representative Michael Froman concluded a three-day visit to Ethiopia, where he led the U.S. Delegation to the 2013 U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, also known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum. Throughout the trip, Ambassador Froman highlighted Obama Administration efforts to support economic growth and regional integration throughout sub-Saharan Africa, particularly through trade and investment that benefits both American and African businesses and workers. Discussion at the Forum focused on the seamless renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act itself. The program, which allows thousands of African products into the United States duty-free, is set to expire in 2015. 

“President Obama is committed to a seamless renewal of AGOA – one that is informed by and aligns with the global trading system. Here in Addis Ababa, we launched a formal review of AGOA, the cornerstone of U.S.-Africa engagement,” said Ambassador Froman. “Now it’s time to tackle tough and even controversial questions to determine what has worked for African exporters and U.S. businesses in AGOA, what needs improvement, and where we should take AGOA going forward.” 

This year marks the 12th annual meeting of the AGOA Forum, which brings together hundreds of U.S. and sub-Saharan African government officials, as well as the African and American private sector and civil society. Also present were women participants in the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program who, with U.S. support, are working to increase exports under AGOA. The theme of this year’s Forum was “Sustainable Transformation through Trade and Technology.” 

On August 12, the first official day of the AGOA Forum, Ambassador Froman spoke to Ministers and other AGOA Forum participants about the United States’ vision for AGOA post-2015: 

“We need to lay the foundation for AGOA 2.0, informed by the lessons of the past thirteen years, reflecting the changes in the global trading system, and driven by the ideas of today and tomorrow,” said Ambassador Froman in his remarks. “That process begins today. And it begins here.” 

The Forum was hosted this year by Ethiopia in partnership with the United States. On the margins of the Forum, Ambassador Froman discussed a range of bilateral trade and investment issues in meetings with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Ethiopian Trade Minister Kebede Chane, and Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He also met with other AGOA ministers and with representatives of the African Development Bank and Africa’s Regional Economic Communities, and engaged with members of the private sector to gain perspectives on AGOA and discuss the importance of increased trade and investment in Africa. 

Ambassador Froman last visited Africa with President Obama on June 27-July 2, 2013, where the President announced the launch of Trade Africa – a new partnership between the United States and Africa, with an initial focus on the five-country East African Community (EAC), that will increase regional trade within Africa, and expand trade between Africa, the United States, and other global markets. Upon his arrival in Ethiopia on Sunday, August 11, Ambassador Froman met with Ministers from the East African Community and announced new initiatives including the launch of negotiations toward a Trade Facilitation Agreement.  

On August 13, Ambassador Froman highlighted President Obama’s announcement of Power Africa, a new initiative to help Africa leverage its vast resources to meet its energy needs and increase its global competitiveness, with a visit to d’Ventus Technologies, an Ethiopian-American producer of smart meters and wind turbines. Currently, more than two-thirds of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is without reliable access to electricity and more than 85 percent of the rural population lacks access.  

Ambassador Froman also stopped by Aleta Land Coffee, a coffee warehouse and plant where green coffee is processed and packaged for export to the United States. This coffee will be exported from Ethiopia through the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) – the creation of which the United States supported to promote exports from Africa. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is currently working with the ECX on a “traceability” initiative that will allow coffee to be traced from where it was grown, increasing the value of Ethiopian coffee on the global market. 

“Our Africa strategy goes beyond traditional aid and assistance,” said Ambassador Froman. “We’re focused on mobilizing trade and investment.” 

In 2012, total two-way trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa was valued at $72 billion. Non-oil exports under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) have more than doubled since enactment of AGOA in 2001. U.S. goods exports to sub-Saharan Africa are up nearly three-fold since 2002. For more information on U.S. trade with Africa, visit USTR’s website here.