Interview: U. S. official says AGOA conducive to Africa's integration into global economy

08:40, June 09, 2011      

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African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) facilitated Africa to further integrate to the global economy and petroleum products continued to account for the largest portion of AGOA imports, a senior U. S. official said in a written interview with Xinhua recently.

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) early this week said the AGOA passed by U. S. Congress in 2000 should be extended beyond its current 2015 deadline. The arrangement is considered as encouraging trade and investment policy introduced by Washington.

“AGOA has provided trade preferences, which give U.S. and African companies an incentive to trade with each other. AGOA has succeeded in helping sub-Saharan Africa become further integrated into the global economy,” said U. S. Bureau of African Affairs spokesperson Hilary Renner on his way to the Zambia capital Lusaka in a response to Xinhua’s email.

The forum marks the 10th year that government officials, business leaders, and civil society from African countries and the United States will convene to promote trade, business, and investment opportunities that sustain economic development in Africa. The 2011 Forum’s theme is “Enhanced Trade Through Increased Competitiveness, Value Addition and Deeper Regional Integration.”

“In 2010, AGOA eligible countries exported 44 billion US dollars in products to the United States, although petroleum products continued to account for the largest portion of AGOA imports with a 91% share of overall AGOA imports,” Renner told Xinhua.

Established to strengthen trade between the US and sub-Saharan Africa countries, AGOA provides African countries with trade preferences, which in turn makes it easier to export African products to the US. It assists African governments, businesses, and prospective entrepreneurs by providing trade preferences to countries that are making progress in implementing economic, legal, and human rights reforms.

Renner said under the arrangement eligible countries can export “thousands of products” to the US duty-free and nearly 6500 products are covered—“from apparel and automobiles to footwear and fruit.”

“Total two-way trade between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa increased 57 percent over the first five months of 2010, compared with the same period in 2009, totaling 33.1 billion U. S. dollars. AGOA imports increased 74 percent to 18.8 billion U . S. dollars during this period,” Renner said.

South African exports to the U. S. were valued at nearly 8 billion dollars in 2010 compared with about 6 billion dollars in 2009, and about 10 billion dollars in 2008.

This week, deputy U. S. Trade Representative Demetrious Marantis said during a visit to South Africa ahead of the forum that there was a common recognition of the tremendous potential to grow trade between the two countries, and to forge new investments that would support jobs for Americans and South Africans.

Marantis stressed that AGOA remained foundation of U.S.-South African trade and that South Africa had emerged as the biggest non-oil beneficiary of all 37 AGOA-eligible countries.

South African business agreed that AGOA had played a major role in stimulating exports to the U. S., consolidating high-tech industry in South Africa and creating local supply chains.

The U. S. is the third largest trading partner for South Africa after China and Germany.

Source: Xinhua
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