African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was signed into law by President Clinton in May 2000 with the objective of expanding U.S. trade and investment with sub-Saharan Africa, to stimulate economic growth, to encourage economic integration, and to facilitate sub-Saharan Africa's integration into the global economy. The Act establishes the annual U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa Economic Cooperation Forum (known as the AGOA Forum) to promote a high-level dialogue on trade and investment-related issues. At the center of AGOA are substantial trade preferences that, along with those under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), allow virtually all marketable goods produced in AGOA-eligible countries to enter the U.S. market duty-free.

Since its inception, AGOA has helped to increase U.S. two-way trade with sub-Saharan Africa.

The U.S. Congress requires the President to determine annually whether sub-Saharan African countries are eligible for AGOA benefits based on progress in meeting certain criteria, including progress toward the establishment of a market-based economy, rule of law, economic policies to reduce poverty, protection of internationally recognized worker rights, and efforts to combat corruption. As of January 1, 2019, 39 sub-Saharan African countries are eligible for AGOA benefits.

The U.S. Government provides assistance -- most notably through four regional trade hubs -- to African governments and businesses that are seeking to make the most of AGOA and to diversify their exports to the United States.

AGOA (including GSP) imports for 2018 totaled $12 billion, up 46 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 67 percent share of overall AGOA imports. AGOA non-oil imports were $4.0 billion in 2018, about triple the amount in 2001. Several non-oil sectors experienced sizable increases during this period, including apparel, auto parts, macadamia nuts, jewelry, fresh oranges, and footwear. South Africa is the largest non-oil AGOA beneficiary.

Top AGOA suppliers were Nigeria ($5.8 billion; mostly crude oil), South Africa, ($2.4 billion; mostly vehicles and parts, fruits, and nuts), Angola ($2.1 billion; mostly crude oil), Chad ($601 million; mostly crude oil), Kenya ($470 million; mostly apparel, macadamia nuts, cut flowers), Ghana ($357 million; mostly oil and cocoa products), and Lesotho ($319.6 million; mostly apparel). Other leading AGOA beneficiaries included Republic of the Congo ($277 million; mostly oil), Cote d'Ivoire ($218 million; mostly oil and cocoa products), Madagascar ($193 million; mostly apparel), Ethiopia ($159 million; mostly apparel and footwear), and Mauritius ($156 million; mostly apparel).

In 2018, leading AGOA import categories were Crude Oil ($8.0 billion in 2018; down 13.6% from 2017), Textiles and Apparel ($1.2 billion; up 18.4%), Minerals and Metals ($728 million; down 12.3%), Transportation Equipment ($697 million; down 47.4%), Agricultural Products ($597 million, up 8.0%), and Chemicals and Related Products ($486 million, up 51.9%).

For more information on AGOA, please visit

2018 Biennial Report on the Implementation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act