United States President Joe Biden has endorsed the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) upon its expiry in September 2025.
This is after the White House urged Congress to address the matter in a timely fashion ahead of the annual Agoa meeting this year in South Africa.
The Agoa was established by Congress in 2000 and most recently reauthorised in 2015. The program provides tariff-free access to the US market for exports of goods from as many as 49 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“I strongly support reauthorisation of the African Growth and Opportunity Act— a landmark, bipartisan law that has formed a bedrock for US trade with Sub-Saharan Africa for more than two decades... I encourage Congress to reauthorize Agoa in a timely fashion and to modernise this important Act for the economic opportunities of the coming decade,” said Biden in a statement.
“I am committed to expeditiously working with Congress and our African partners to renew this law beyond 2025, to deepen trade relations between our countries, advance regional integration, and realize Africa’s immense economic potential for our mutual benefit. In so many ways, Africa is the future – and so when Africa succeeds, the whole world succeeds.”
Some US senators had called on the Senate to prioritise extension of the legislation to expand economic opportunities with Africa.
The reauthorisation of Agoa past 2025 will help eligible African countries to boost trade, economic growth and development, including increasing investments and US foreign exchange earnings through access to US markets.
Agoa has supported the competitiveness of African products, diversifying African exports, and enabling the creation of new jobs in Africa.
Kenya among other countries has used Agoa to boost exports to the US and create jobs, especially in the textile industry.
The decision for the extension of the tenure beyond 2025 is one of the key issues likely to be discussed in Johannesburg at the Agoa forum.
Experts say that the US could renew Agoa in its current form, let it expire, or attempt to rethink and reform it.
African countries are pushing for an early 10-year extension without changes to reassure businesses and investors who might have concerns over Agoa's future.