Zambia will from 8-10 June host the 10th annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, at which a strong showing from the US and African private sectors, as well as representatives from civil society organizations is anticipated.
Passed by the US Congress in 2000, AGOA is the foremost trade and investment agreement between the US and sub-Saharan Africa.
In a statement, released through the US Embassy Thursday, US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, said that after more than 10 years, AGOA remained the centerpiece of America’s trade and investment cooperation with Africa. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk and other senior officials from the US Government are scheduled to attend the forum, with a view to discussing ways to advance the US-Africa relationship on trade and investment.
AGOA is aimed at strengthening trade between the US and sub-Saharan African countries that meet eligibility criteria, which require countries to attain a certain level of economic, legal and human rights standards.
Under the legislation, 37 countries are currently eligible to export nearly 6,500 products to the US duty-free.
Also, American companies benefit when they invest in Africa or supply equipment and technical support to eligible African firms.
In 2010, US exports to sub-Saharan Africa exceeded US$ 17 billion, while US imports from the region were greater than US$ 65 billion. The annual AGOA forum is a key component of this cooperation.
“The forum provides a unique opportunity for government officials, international business people and civil society representatives to build relationships that lead to business deals,” said Carson.
“For these reasons, we must work to improve, increase trade and greater prosperity for African nations. Africa has changed significantly since Congress passed the AGOA legislation,” he added, observing that over the past ten years, sub-Saharan Africa’s real GDP growth rate increased to an annual average of 5.7 per cent, second in the world to Asia.
Private forecasts indicate that African economies will grow at seven per cent per year over the next 20 years, making sub-Saharan Africa the fastest growing region in the world after Asia.
Business publications and consulting companies frequently identify Africa as the new investment frontier.