Washington, D.C. — The sixth United States African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) Forum meets Wednesday and Thursday in Accra.
The forum, entitled “As Trade Grows, Africa Prospers: Optimising the Benefits Under AGOA”, will bring together formally for the first time civil society and private sector actors to discuss how to maximize their benefits under Agoa trade agreements with the United States. Agoa, introduced in 2000 and extended in 2002, 2004, and 2006, allows select African countries special access to export designated products to the U.S.
In an interview with allAfrica.com last week, the newly-appointed African Union ambassador to the United States, Amina Salum Ali, said African ministers of trade would meet ahead of the forum to evaluate Agoa's impact and to decide how and for what items they could get more access to the American market.
United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will not be attending the forum as planned due to developments in the Middle East. She will, however, give an address via a live video link. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer is expected to attend.
The forum comes just one week after the African Union launched its first permanent mission to the United States in Washington, D.C. In a speech at the launch of the mission, Frazer said Agoa is “a prime example of how we can generate economic activity through opening of markets, increasing U.S trade, spurring new investments in Africa, and generating more commercial activity and jobs.”
“Agoa has been a major success,” Frazer said. The United States Congress passed a bill extending Agoa benefits in December 2006. Currently 38 of the 48 countries in sub-Saharan African have been designated as Agoa beneficiary countries.