Trump's Administration To Continue With AGOA
by JAMES MUYANWA
PRESIDENT Donald Trump’s administration considers Africa as a priority economic partner and will continue implementing the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), two senior United States (US) government officials have said.
They said that Mr. Trump’s slogan of “America first, does not mean America only!”
US deputy Assistant Secretary – Bureau of African affairs, Peter Barlerin and acting assistant US representative for Africa, Constance Hamilton said the economic and trade partnership between US and Sub-Sahara African (SSA) countries will remain strong.
The duo said this in a telephonic press conference last Friday ahead of the AGOA forum which started today in Lome, Togo.
Three journalists representing three local media houses participated in the conference through the US embassy in Lusaka.
“Africa is a priority partner to the American governments with a long-time relationship which I do not see changing. Africa will continue to be a strong partner of the US,” Mr. Barlerin said when asked about the future of AGOA under President Trump.
There have been fears among some Africans that the ascendance to the US Presidency by Mr. Trump may see programmes like AGOA discontinued.
The AGOA is a US Trade Act, enacted in 2000 and was extended to 2025 when it expired in 2015.
The legislation enhances market access to the US for SSA countries building existing programmes by expanding the (duty-free) benefits under the country’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) to now approximately 6,500 product tariff lines.
And Mr. Barlerin was emphatic that AGOA would continue because it was mutually beneficial to the two parties – the US on one hand and the SSA countries on the other.
He said, generally, AGOA “has been good but it could be better,” and that therefore the partners were working hard to improve the situation.
This year‘s AGOA forum will bring together senior government officials from the US and 38-SSA AGOA eligible countries to discuss ways of boosting economic cooperation and trade.
The theme for this year’s meeting is, “The US and Africa: Partnering for prosperity through trade.”
The forum, which Zambia hosted in 2010, will explore how countries can continue to maximise the benefits of AGOA.
The representatives from the private sector, the civil society and the US-sponsored African Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP) will also participate in forum activities.