Ambassador Girma Birru, Ambassador and Plenipotentiary of Ethiopia to the United States and current co-chair of the AGOA Ambassadors' Working Group in Washington, testified on Tuesday (January 14) to the United States International Trade Commission.
The Commission is holding hearings on issues relating to the reauthorization of the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Ambassador Girma told the Commission that AGOA remained the central pillar of US-Africa trade and economic cooperation, and embodied "our joint aspiration that sub-Saharan African countries become a full-fledged member of the global economy." He said the expectation had always been that AGOA would become a catalyst for economic growth as well as help accelerate Africa's integration to global markets through trade and investment. He stressed that AGOA has made a significant impact on exports of Sub-Saharan states and helped to generate jobs in Africa and the US. At the same time, few countries had made full use of the opportunities due to supply side constraints, including lack of infrastructural and institutional capacities.
Sub-Saharan countries recognized they needed to address this by developing a coordinated and strategic response at the national level, he said, and they had begun to do so. He said that "through AGOA we have been able to lay a strong foundation for the strategic US-Africa partnership", adding if AGOA was to achieve its primary objective of helping African countries achieve sustainable economic transformation, it should be extended for a period of 15 years. He said Africa was asking for the reauthorization of AGOA on the basis of the partnership of Africa and the US and in the hope that the very goals set for AGOA from the outset would be achieved.