Overview of AGOA’s apparel provisions in the context of US-Africa trade
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) forms a part of United States trade legislation that provides non-reciprocal preferential market access to the US market for qualifying exports made in African beneficiary countries. The legislation was enacted under former President Bill Clinton in 2000, and extended (and to some extent broadened) by President George Bush during his term in office. Under President Obama, important extensions were recently passed while the current US Administration’s recently released Africa policy undertakes to promote an extension of AGOA beyond its current expiry date in 2015.
While AGOA is largely focused on enhanced US market access (in support of trade flows) for African countries by removing US import tariffs and other restrictions, the legislation goes well beyond this aspect and is in effect a policy framework covering trade-capacity building, general development assistance, bilateral political and business engagement (for example, through the annual AGOA Forum), healthcare assistance, investment support and financing, and security-related cooperation. Regional trade hubs located in Gaborone, Nairobi, Accra and Dakar provide and implement some of the support measures envisaged (and required) by the AGOA legislation.
Although AGOA is very generous it also has numerous shortcomings, many of which lie in the fact that it represents US trade legislation, rather than a bilateral trade agreement. As a result, preferences are neither permanent nor necessarily predictable; recent experience and uncertainty around the extension of AGOA’s apparel provisions in as far as they relate to the third-country fabric provision are a case in point, as are substantial gaps and other restrictions relating to the legislations’ product coverage.
The objective of this policy brief is to provide an overview of AGOA’s wearing apparel provisions given their recent legislative extension, but also to place Africa’s apparel exports to the US into broad context with regard to (a) trade flows trends since AGOA’s inception, (b) Sub-Saharan African apparel exports five years prior to AGOA’s inception compared to today, and (c) AGOA apparel exports in the context of global apparel imports into the US market.
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