Next year, the African Growth and Opportunity Act will expire, unless the US Congress decides to renew it or pass a revised version of the law. Designed to promote exports from Africa to America by removing tariffs on thousands of potential exports, the act has been especially helpful to South Africa since it became US law. What's at stake? J. BROOKS SPECTOR takes a quick look.
The US Congress passed the African Growth and Opportunity Act (technically Title I, Trade and Development Act of 2000; P.L. 106-200) in May 2000 and it became law once President Clinton signed it, and his successor, George W. Bush, supported an extension of the act until 2015.
Despite the fact Africa still had the reputation as the "hopeless continent" when the idea of AGOA was first proposed in the late 1990s - or perhaps even because of it - this proposal ended up attracting bi-partisan support as a measure that would help Africa by encouraging trade, rather than calling for an endless pipeline of foreign assistance.
As it stands now, it will expire as US law in 2015. Does this matter? Stay with us on this - it actually matters rather more than you ...