My colleague Nealon and I just arrived in Lusaka, Zambia this morning to attend the 10th African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum. This 4-day marathon of workshops and ministerial meetings marks an important milestone in the US and Africa’s commercial relationship. Enacted in 2000 to reduce tariffs on select products from qualifying sub-Saharan countries, AGOA has been responsible for an estimated $300 billion USD in export earnings to Africa and created more than 300,000 jobs. That kind of trade and job creation translates to stronger, broad based economies that are better placed to fight endemic poverty. And as the global economy recovers and competition increases for access to Africa’s markets, it’s important for the US to renew and deepen its commitment to trade and investment on the continent. Ultimately what’s good for Africa is good for America.
As we gather here in Lusaka and contemplate the tangible gains and successes of AGOA, we’re also mindful that as with any ten year old program, tremendous improvements can be made to fully exploit and realize AGOA’s potential. So look for our blog posts and Tweets (@NealonAtONE) over the next four days to learn more about how AGOA is working and what can be done to make it work better.