AGOA, the African Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA), the Act Growth and Development Opportunities in Africa, is a US law passed and promulgated in May 2000 by the US Congress under the leadership of President Bill Clinton. This law allows Saharan African countries to export to the US market without customs duty. Gabon is eligible since 2000.
Prior to 2000, the World Trade Organization (WTO) was the only framework for cooperation between Gabon and the United States. This cooperation framework was to only benefit the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) which provided preferential measures admitting duty-free entry of customs duties for more than 4650 products. The current situation of cooperation extended the generalized system of preferences by adding about 1800 new usable products bringing to 6300 products for an even more diversified.
AGOA, realizing the aspirations of the United States and sub-Saharan Africa provides that the program can create significant opportunities for eligible countries and fundamentally change the structure of the recipient economies. While AGOA has generated a 500% increase in African exports to the US over the past decade and created nearly 1.3 million jobs, it needs to improve the level of product diversification and modification of African economic structures. It is a new vision of economic growth, development through trade. AGOA aims include:
- Promote trade and investment between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa by giving countries admitted exceptional access to the US market;
- Encourage economic development and reform in sub-Saharan Africa;
- Promoting access and increased opportunities for investors and companies in sub-Saharan Africa;
- Removing quotas in textile and clothing products from sub-Saharan Africa;
- Encouraging diversification in the poorest countries of Africa;
- Encourage the use of technical assistance to consolidate the reform and economic development.
Several challenges related to capacity, infrastructure, institutions, savings, marketing, political risk and US market requirements are obstacles that continue to prevent African countries meeting the conditions of the law to take full advantage of AGOA partnership.
However, priority was given to the strategic approach methods over the past decade. Eligible countries are increasingly open to AGOA as reported the development of national response strategies to AGOA. This strategic exercise offers African countries an opportunity to resolve supply difficulties. As part of the structural transformation of the economies of eligible countries planned for the next ten years, AGOA could contribute to this transformation and strengthen the efforts for regional integration and intra-African trade, the said workhorse countries.
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