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 http://trade.gov/agoa/.