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USTR's Office of African Affairs develops and coordinates U.S. trade and investment policy for the 49 countries of sub-Saharan Africa.  It leads the negotiation and implementation of U.S. trade and investment policies and objectives in the region.  The Administration seeks both to expand markets for U.S. goods and services in sub-Saharan Africa and to facilitate efforts to bolster  African economic development through increased global, regional, and bilateral trade.  Sub-Saharan Africa presents many opportunities for U.S. businesses as an emerging market for American exports.  In 2017, seven of the 20 fastest growing economies in the world were in sub-Saharan Africa according to the IMF.  To that end, the Africa Office also will help to implement the Trump Administration’s vision to pursue a bilateral free trade agreement with a sub-Saharan African country that could serve as model for others in the region.

The Africa Office oversees implementation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a trade preference program enacted in 2000 that is at the center of U.S.-African engagement on trade and investment.  By providing duty-free entry into the United States for almost all African products, AGOA has helped expand and diversify African exports to the United States, while at the same time fostering an improved business environment in many African countries through eligibility requirements.  In 2015, the U.S. Congress extended AGOA through 2025, the longest extension of the program.  Forty sub-Saharan African countries currently qualify for AGOA benefits.  The Africa Office works closely with other U.S. agencies, such as USAID, MCC, OPIC, EXIM, and TDA.  This includes USAID funding to support the work of the three African Regional Trade Hubs located in Accra, Ghana; Pretoria, South Africa; and Nairobi, Kenya.

The Africa Office also leads U.S. Government interagency engagement with sub-Saharan African partners on trade and investment issues, including under our eleven trade and investment framework agreements (TIFAs) with sub-Saharan African countries and regional economic organizations.  The United States also has a Trade, Investment, and Development Cooperative Agreement with the five countries of the Southern African Customs Union (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland), a Trade and Investment Partnership with East Africa Community (EAC) partner states, and bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with six sub-Saharan African partners. 

The Africa Office maintains an ongoing dialogue with sub-Saharan African countries and works closely with other Africa trade policy stakeholders, including Members of Congress, the African and American private sectors, and civil society in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa.

U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade Data

The United States had a $39.0 billion in total (two ways) goods trade with Sub-Saharan African countries during 2017.  Goods exports totaled $14.1 billion; goods imports totaled $24.9 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with Sub-Saharan African countries was $10.8 billion in 2017.


  • U.S. goods exports to Sub-Saharan African countries in 2017 were $14.1 billion, up 4.6% ($621 million) from 2016. U.S. exports to the Sub-Saharan African countries account for 1.2% of overall U.S. exports in 2017.
  • The top 5 U.S. export markets in the Sub-Saharan African countries for 2017 were South Africa ($5.0 billion), Nigeria ($2.2 billion), Ghana ($886 million), Ethiopia ($873 million), and Angola ($810 million).
  • The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2017 were machinery ($2.3 billion), vehicles ($1.6 billion), aircraft ($1.5 billion), mineral fuels ($1.4 billion) and electrical machinery ($864 million).


  • U.S. goods imports to Sub-Saharan African countries in 2017 were $24.9 billion, up 23.6% ($4.8 billion) from 2016. U.S. imports to the Sub-Saharan African countries account for 1.3% of overall U.S. imports in 2017.
  • The top 5 U.S. import suppliers from the Sub-Saharan African countries for 2017 were South Africa ($7.8 billion), Nigeria ($7.1 billion), Angola ($2.6 billion), Cote d'Ivoire ($1.2 billion), and Botswana ($772 million).
  • The top import categories (2-digit HS) in 2017 were mineral fuels ($11.2 billion), precious metal and stone (platinum, diamonds) ($4.1 billion), cocoa ($1.2 billion), vehicles ($1.2 billion), and iron and steel ($950 million).

Trade Balance

  • The U.S. goods trade deficit with Sub-Saharan African countries was $10.8 billion in 2017, a 62.1% increase ($4.1 billion) over 2016 largely due to an increase in oil imports.


AGOA (including GSP) imports for 2017 totaled $13.8 billion, up 68 percent compared to 2001 (the first full-year of AGOA trade).  Petroleum products continued to account for the largest portion of AGOA imports with a 69 percent share of overall AGOA imports.  AGOA non-oil imports were $4.3 billion in 2017, more than triple the amount in 2001.  Several non-oil sectors experienced sizable increases during this period, including vehicles and parts, apparel, jewelry and parts, cocoa paste, cocoa powder, fruits, nuts, and footwear.  South Africa was the largest non-oil AGOA beneficiary.

Top AGOA suppliers were Nigeria ($6.1 billion; mainly crude oil), South Africa, ($2.9 billion; mainly vehicles and parts, iron and steel, fruits and nuts), Angola ($2.3 billion; mainly crude oil), Chad ($590 million; mainly crude oil), and Kenya ($408 million; mainly apparel, macadamia nuts, cut flowers).  Other leading AGOA beneficiaries included Lesotho (apparel), Mauritius (apparel), Madagascar (apparel), Ethiopia (footwear), Cote d'Ivoire (cocoa paste and cocoa powder), and Ghana (cocoa paste/powder, apparel).

In 2017, leading AGOA import categories were crude oil ($9.5 billion), transportation equipment ($1.3 billion), textiles and apparel ($1.0 billion), minerals and metals ($826.6 million), agricultural products ($552 million), and chemicals and related products ($320 million).