Does the AGOA really benefit the eligible countries?
In the year 2000, at the initiative of President Bill Clinton, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was signed by the U.S. Congress. The purpose of this law was to enable the countries of sub-Saharan Africa to develop themselves by giving them privileged access to the U.S. market without customs duties.
After nearly 20 years, some countries took advantage of the agreement, such as Kenya and Lesotho, which have significantly expanded their textile sector through AGOA. But the results of this agreement are still controversial for various reasons that are common to all countries sub-Saharan Africa countries. The problems are many and varied. First, at the institutional level, the bodies set up by local Governments to implement AGOA sometimes struggle to find their place. In Côte d'Ivoire, for example, an AGOA National Commission was set up in 2013, two years after the country's re-eligibility to AGOA. However, this commission did not produce the expected results. While trade statistics between Côte d'Ivoire and the United States indicate growth in exports, it is difficult to attribute this growth to eligibility for AGOA. This is especially true since the growth rate of 2017 was in the average of the previous years.
Then, at the very level of the exportable supply of the eligible countries, there is still much to be done. West African countries favor raw material exports rather than processed products. It is a choice beyond their control that is justified by the low level of industrialization of these countries. But all the interest of exports to the U.S. under the AGOA lies in the possibility of selling processed products, with high added value, which can bring back critical financial resources.
From all the above, it can be concluded that the opportunities offered by AGOA are real. Eligible countries still need to be able to put in place an institutional framework conducive to its application.
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