Since its enactment in 2000, the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been the centerpiece of the commercial relationship between the United States and Africa. This unilateral preferential law has provided Sub-Saharan African countries with the opportunity to export a wide array of goods to the United States duty-free and also quota-free. There is no doubt that the past eleven years of AGOA have been beneficial to Africa as evidenced by expanded volume and scope of exports to the United States.
However, it is also quite evident that there are many concerns over the effectiveness of the Act. While there are tangible gains, the potential of AGOA remains largely unexploited. After eleven years, the global setting under which AGOA was enacted has changed and although the law has been amended a number of times, it is apparent there is need to not only consider marginal reforms but also more innovative approaches to strengthen the commercial relationship between Africa and the United States. As emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, China and India have expanded their commercial linkages with Africa, the United States’ commercial presence is shrinking. Experts from the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings assert that now is the time for the Obama Administration to articulate a coherent strategy to deepen such relationship with Africa. In this publication, AGI scholars, together with collaborating partners in African think tanks, offer some suggestions to improve the Africa-U.S. trade relationship.