Large African delegation expected to attend the AGOA Forum in SA

Thursday, October 26, 2023

A large number of African Trade Ministers and their delegations are expected to attend the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum taking place in South Africa next week.

“The US delegation at the Forum will be led by the US Trade Secretary Ambassador [Katherine Tai] together with members of the Congress, businesspeople and business delegation from around the continent,” Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel said.

Addressing the media on the state of South Africa’s readiness to host the AGOA Forum in Sandton, Johannesburg, earlier today, Patel said the Forum will also be attended by labour representatives from the United States and South African business people.

“We have taken steps to reduce barriers on trade. South Africa is the biggest trade market partner in the Sub-Saharan,” Patel said, adding that the forum is set to widen the trade corridors between South Africa, Africa, and the United States of America.

Patel explained that during the Forum there will be a number of break-away sessions as well as displays of products.

To date, 360 delegates from the US business sector, including the US Chamber of Commerce, together with delegates from Business Unity South Africa (Busa), Black Business Council, and Business Leadership South Africa have registered for the forum.   

A further 80 labour representatives have registered to attend the Forum.  

Minister Patel said about 520 firms were expected to exhibit their products at Nasrec.

The theme of this year’s Forum is: Partnering to Build a Resilient, Sustainable and Inclusive Agenda to Support Economic Development, Industrialisation and Quality Job Creation.

The AGOA is a United States of America trade programme that provides eligible countries in sub-Saharan Africa with preferential access to the US markets. The AGOA aims to promote economic growth, reduce poverty, and foster a stronger trade partnership between the United States and African nations.

South Africa will be hosting the AGOA Forum for 2023 in Johannesburg from 2 - 4 November 2023.

This will be the third time the AGOA Forum is hosted in Southern Africa after Zambia in 2011 and Mauritius in 2003.

The purpose of the Forum is to discuss ways to expand trade and investment relations between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa and the implementation of AGOA including encouraging joint ventures between small and large businesses.

The AGOA Forum will consist of the following elements:

            The Formal AGOA Forum, with representatives of governments, and business/labour  delegates.

  • A Forum of African Trade Ministers.
  • Private Sector Forum.
  • A Labour Forum.
  • A Civil Society Forum.
  • Forums on competition policy, trade administration, technical standards and development finance.
  • An industrial Exhibition, with industrial products.
  • African cuisine plus food and beverages.
  • A display of African history, film and music.
  • Official dinner and VIP lunches (organised by SA).
  • Closing reception (organised by USA).
  • Possible community visits.

Currently, 35 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have been designated as eligible for AGOA benefits.

To qualify for AGOA, a country must first be eligible for the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. The GSP applies to 3 400 products from designated beneficiary countries, plus a further 1 450 products from least developed countries. AGOA supplements the GSP with an additional 1 835 products.

Only Sub-Saharan African countries are eligible for AGOA. The US determines whether countries have met these requirements of eligibility in Section 104 of the Act.

In order to qualify, countries must already be GSP beneficiary countries – though GSP eligibility does not imply AGOA eligibility. –