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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 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 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).

For more information on AGOA, please visit

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