The Biden-Harris Administration hosted the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, on December 13-15—with meetings and sessions on tech, climate, infrastructure and trade and investment partnerships in Africa. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai also convened a meeting with trade ministers from sub-Saharan Africa to discuss modernizing the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and provide real opportunity across the African continent. AGOA, signed into law in 2000, made international headlines in the fashion industry a few years ago when the former U.S. administration suspended Rwanda’s duty-free AGOA apparel benefits after Rwanda refused to accept secondhand clothing from the U.S.
What is AGOA? AGOA is a trade program with the U.S. and certain countries in sub-Saharan Africa that allows for duty-free treatment of U.S. imports of certain products from countries that are considered to be AGOA-eligible, including textile and apparel products.
Why is AGOA relevant to the fashion industry? AGOA’s duty-free treatment of certain apparel products is significant, and the third-country fabric provision allows for duty-free treatment—even if the yarns and fabrics used in their production are imported from non-AGOA countries. For example, apparel assembled in Kenya with fabrics outside of an AGOA-eligible country can qualify for duty-free treatment under AGOA. The USTR’s 2022 Biennial Report listed apparel as one of the top U.S. imports under AGOA, totaling $1.4 billion.
What are the next steps for AGOA? The next AGOA Forum will be held in South Africa in 2023. It is important to keep AGOA top of mind, since it is set to expire in 2025. Ambassador Tai has urged consideration of improvements to encourage investment, and help small and women-owned businesses and more countries make use of the program.
Image: U.S. State Department