_: The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms Elizabeth Thabethe, says the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) should be developed into a programme that supports more directly Africa’s integration agenda. She was speaking at the ministerial dialogue of the 12th United States-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Co-operation Forum that is held in Addis Ababa Ethiopia.
The Deputy Minister said that the United States should also avoid any action that would fragment Africa’s integration efforts including the graduation.
“This is where we need to be innovative in defining mechanisms that supports Africa’s integration. Larger, more integrated African markets will underpin growth and development in Africa that will encourage growth in US trade and investment to Africa. We also believe that the virtuous cycle in what we should be working towards should be realised. This will foster intra African trade in action”, said Thabethe.
The 12th annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum is held with the theme “Sustainable Transformation through Trade and Technology,” bringing together senior US administration officials, African government ministers as well as US and African business and civil society stakeholders.
AGOA was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on May 18, 2000, for a period of eight years and President George Bush later extended the programme to September 2015. African leaders are hoping to use the forum to lobby the United States to extend the AGOA beyond 2015. All delegates at the forum including Americans have called for the extension of AGOA, arguing that it has benefitted both the African continent and the US.
United States Trade representative, Ambassador Michael Froman said that AGOA has truly transformed the way the US and Africa interact on trade and economic issues. Froman said that since 2001, US total trade with sub-Saharan Africa (exports plus imports) have grown more than 250 percent from $28.2 billion in 2001.
Froman stated that by providing new market opportunities for African exports, especially of non-traditional and value added products, AGOA has helped African firms become more competitive both in the United States and internally.