United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reiterated President Joe Biden’s commitment to extend the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) beyond 2025 when it expires.
“President Biden fully supports the reauthorisation of AGOA. But we don’t just want to extend AGOA – we want to work with the United States Congress to make it better. And that’s what this week’s dialogue is about,” he said on Friday.
Blinken was addressing delegates through a video speech at the three-day AGOA Forum at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg.
Launched in 2000, AGOA grants exports from qualifying African countries duty-free access to the United States market.
“Last year, I travelled to South Africa to lay out the United States strategy to sub-Saharan Africa and to its core, it’s about partnerships -- what the United States can do with African nations and not for African nations.”
Blinken believes that AGOA is critical to realising this vision as thousands of people in sub-Saharan Africa have benefited in the past two decades.
“AGOA has meant new jobs, new skills, new connections and new investment. It has meant less corruption and greater human and labour rights.”
The piece of legislation, according to the United States Secretary of State, has translated into partnerships to advance new solutions to shared challenges from the climate crisis to food insecurity, to supply chain disruptions and vulnerabilities.
“More inclusive, sustainable growth is good for Africa and good for America and good for the world,” Blinken said.
In addition, he said America was dedicated to December’s African Leaders’ Summit commitments, which are essential to creating economies and societies where trade and investment can flourish.
Through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment, Blinken believes his country is lending a helping hand to finance projects like the Lobito Corridor between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia and Angola, which will enhance connectivity and make it easier to do business in and with Africa.
In addition, the United States, Blinken said, is mobilising US$8 billion in private and public investments to bolster climate resistance and advance women’s economic empowerment.
“We remain the single biggest 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,” he said, adding that they will support elevating African voices in global diplomacy.
Blinken welcomed the African Union joining the G20 and International Monetary Fund, which is working to expand sub-Saharan representation on its Executive Board.
On the other hand, he said the United States remain committed to reforming the United Nations Security Council to include permanent representation for Africa.
“This flourishing partnership between the United States and Africa gives me tremendous hope. And through gatherings like this, we continue to shape a future where workers and businesses are equipped and empowered, where governments are transparent and accountable, where all our people can thrive, and where our nations can come together for the good of our people and the world.”
AGOA is a United States Trade Act enacted on 18 May 2000 as Public Law 106 of the 200th Congress.
The AGOA legislation has been renewed on different occasions, most recently in 2015, when its period of validity was extended to September 2025.
The legislation significantly enhances market access to the United States for qualifying sub-Saharan African countries by allocating special programme indicators to about 6 800 tariff lines in the American tariff schedule.
This allows United States importers to clear goods sourced from eligible African countries duty-free under AGOA. – SAnews.gov.za