Just like anywhere else, the best way to improve living standards and create jobs in sub-Saharan Africa is through trade. That’s why in 2000, the United States enacted the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA. Since then, the program has been the cornerstone of U.S. economic policy and commercial engagement with the region.
AGOA gives eligible African countries preferential status for exporting some of their goods to the United States, bolstering economic growth while promoting economic and political reform in sub-Saharan Africa.
In early November, representatives of the United States and 35 African countries met in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the 20th AGOA Forum. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who did not attend this year’s meeting, said in a video message that “At its core, it’s about partnership – what the United States can do with African nations, not for African nations. The African Growth and Opportunity Act is essential to realizing this vision.”
“For more than two decades, and for hundreds of thousands of people across Sub-Saharan Africa, AGOA has meant new jobs, new skills, new connections, new investment; it’s meant less corruption and greater human and labor rights. And all that has translated to new and powerful partnerships to advance solutions to shared challenges from the climate crisis to food insecurity to supply chain disruptions and vulnerabilities,” he said.
“But we don’t just want to extend AGOA; we want to work with the United States Congress to make it even better, and that’s what this week’s dialogue is all about,” said Secretary Blinken. “We’re mobilizing 8 billion dollars in private and public investments to bolster climate resilience and advance women’s economic empowerment. We remain the biggest single country investor by far in food security and public health in the region, and we’re working on new efforts, like our VACS Initiative, to strengthen African seeds and soils.”
At the same time, “We continue to support elevating African voices in global diplomacy,” said Secretary Blinken. “We welcome the African Union joining the G20. We appreciate the IMF working to expand Sub-Saharan representation on its executive board. We remain committed to reforming the UN Security Council to include permanent representation for Africa. And this week, we inaugurated the President’s Advisory Council on African Diaspora Engagement to further strengthen the deep bonds between our citizens.”
“A more inclusive, sustainable growth,” said Secretary Blinken, “is good for Africa and good for America – good for the world.”