Congress renews landmark U.S.-Africa trade legislation

Non-oil exports from Africa to the United States have blossomed under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. (© AP Images)

Since 2000, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has powered industries, created thousands of jobs and improved labor rights in Africa. In June 2015, lawmakers in Washington overwhelmingly reauthorized the landmark law for another 10 years.

“AGOA has provided vital economic opportunities by supporting regional integration, helping African companies become more competitive, and fostering an enabling environment for private sector investment,” Ambassadors Michael Froman and Susan Rice wrote on a White House blog.

“AGOA supports and reflects our shared values by providing incentives to adopt good governance, pro-growth and pro-development policies, including on worker rights and human rights,” they wrote.

Since 2000, AGOA non-oil exports to the United States have more than tripled, supporting 350,000 direct jobs and hundreds of thousands of indirect jobs in Africa. With AGOA, they wrote, “African businesses have sought more U.S. inputs, expertise, and joint partnerships.”

Speaking in Ghana in 2009, President Obama highlighted the importance of U.S. engagement with Africa.

“I do not see the countries and peoples of Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world — partners with America on behalf of the future we want for all of our children,” Obama said. “That partnership must be grounded in mutual responsibility and mutual respect.”