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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 August 2014, 41 sub-Saharan African countries were 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.

U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

In August, President Obama welcomed leaders from across the African continent for the inaugural U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. The Summit marked the largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government, aimed at strengthening ties between the U.S. and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing regions. The Summit advanced the Administration’s focus on trade and investment in Africa, and during the Summit, Ambassador Froman convened the AGOA Forum with African trade ministers. As the cornerstone of U.S. trade policy with sub-Saharan Africa, AGOA has contributed to the diversification and competiveness of sub-Saharan Africa’s economies, supported hundreds of thousands of jobs across the continent, increased global prosperity and market opportunities that accompany Africa’s rise.

U.S.-AGOA Trade Facts

In 2013, U.S. goods imports from sub-Saharan African under AGOA and the related GSP program totaled $26.8 billion, more than three times the amount in 2001, the first full-year of AGOA trade.  While petroleum products accounted for the largest portion of AGOA imports, non-oil AGOA trade was $4.9 billion in 2013, almost four times the amount in 2001. 

In 2013, about 91 percent of U.S. imports from AGOA-eligible countries entered duty-free, either under AGOA, GSP, or zero-duty Most Favored Nation rates.

For more information on AGOA, please visit