Thursday, July 24, 2014

Congressional Hearings on AGOA Set For Next Week

U.S. House and Senate to hold hearings on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act ("AGOA") next week.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Nunes has announced Hearing on Advancing the U.S. Trade Agenda: Trade with Africa and the African Growth and Opportunity Act, at 1100 Longworth House Office Building at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, July 29th. The focus of the hearing is on AGOA and U.S. trade policy in sub-Saharan Africa. The hearing focus will include: (1) deepening and expanding trade and investment ties with sub-Saharan Africa; (2) the effectiveness of AGOA and potential revisions to the program to promote improved utilization; (3) barriers to trade in Africa; (4) barriers to regional integration in Africa; and (5) capacity building and efforts to promote regional integration and integration into global supply chains, including through implementation of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement.

On Wednesday, July 30, 2014, at 10:00 a.m., the United States Senate Committee on Finance will hold Hearing The African Growth and Opportunity Act at 14: The Road Ahead at 215 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

In 2000, Congress first passed the African Growth and Opportunity Act to provide duty-free access to a wide variety of products from sub-Saharan African countries that meet certain criteria. Benefits under AGOA are extensive, allowing for duty-free access for many apparel and agriculture products that are not included in the Generalized System of Preferences ("GSP") and providing preferential treatment on about 2000 more tariff lines than GSP. In addition, AGOA includes certain special rules of origin to further encourage trade and development in Africa.

The program is designed to promote economic development in sub-Saharan Africa by granting increased access to U.S. markets. The AGOA Ambassadors Working Group estimates that AGOA has generated about 350,000 direct jobs and 1,000,000 indirect jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa and about 100,000 jobs in the United States.

Since adoption of AGOA in 2000, U.S. trade with sub-Saharan Africa has grown about four-fold, rising from $7.6 billion in 2001 to $24.8 billion in 2013. Approximately 90 percent of imports from AGOA-eligible countries entered under the AGOA program, though the level of utilization varies from country to country. Major products exported to the United States under AGOA include crude petroleum ($20 billion), automobiles and parts ($2.1 billion), refined petroleum products ($1.2 billion), and textiles and apparel ($907 million).

As Congress considers renewal of AGOA, which expires in September 2015, these hearings are important elements of the Committees' fact-gathering activities.

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