African Growth and Opportunity Act

The African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA (Title I, Trade and Development Act of 2000; P.L. 106–200)[2] is a piece of legislation that was approved by the U.S. Congress in May 2000. The stated purpose of this legislation is to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and to improve economic relations between the United States and the region.[3] After completing its initial 15-year period of validity, the AGOA legislation was extended on 29 June 2015 by a further 10 years, to 2025.[4]

African Growth and Opportunity Act
Great Seal of the United States
Other short titlesUnited States-Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act
Long titleAn Act to authorize a new trade and investment policy for sub-Saharan Africa, expand trade benefits to the countries in the Caribbean Basin, renew the generalized system of preferences, and reauthorize the trade adjustment assistance programs.
Acronyms (colloquial)AGOA
NicknamesTrade and Development Act of 2000
Enacted bythe 106th United States Congress
EffectiveMay 18, 2000
Public law106-200
Statutes at Large114 Stat. 251
Titles amended19 U.S.C.: Customs Duties
U.S.C. sections created19 U.S.C. ch. 23 § 3701 et seq.
Legislative history
President George W. Bush signs into law the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) of 2004 in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building Tuesday, July 13, 2004.


The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was the brainchild of Congressman Jim McDermott (a former Foreign Service medical officer based in Zaire), and his Chief of Staff, Michael Williams.[5][6] McDermott,[7] along with Congressman Ed Royce, helped move the earliest versions of the legislation through Congress.[8] Later, Rosa Whitaker, who served as the first ever Assistant U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for Africa in the administrations of Presidents William J. Clinton and George W. Bush helped develop and implement the law. Passage of the legislation followed nearly a decade of leadership on the part of activists such as Paul Speck at Environmental and Energy Institute, Witney Schneidman, Steve Lande, Mel Foote, Tony Carroll, Claude Fontheim, and Mark Neuman, and others.[9] AGOA was signed by President Clinton into law in May 2000. The legislation was reviewed again in 2015, and was renewed. The revisions made it easier to become eligible and focused on improving the future business environment in developing African countries.


The legislation authorized the President of the United States to determine which sub-Saharan African countries would be eligible for AGOA on an annual basis. The eligibility criteria was to improve labor rights and movement toward a market-based economy. Each year, the President evaluates the sub-Saharan African countries and determines which countries should remain eligible.

Countries' inclusion has fluctuated with changes in the local political environment. In December 2009, for example, Guinea, Madagascar, and Niger were all removed from the list of eligible countries; by October 2011, though, eligibility was restored to Guinea and Niger, and by June 2014, to Madagascar as well. Notice was given that Burundi would lose its AGOA eligibility status as of 1 January 2016.[10] In August, 2017, Togo was recognized as an eligible country.[11][12]

Having AGOA eligibility does not imply automatic eligibility for a "Wearing Apparel" provision. To export apparel and certain textile to the United States under the AGOA duty-free, an eligible country must have implemented a "Visa System" that satisfies American authorities and proves compliance with the AGOA Rules of Origin.


Tatah Mentan (2018) has argued that although it "sounds like a benevolent multilateral trade agreement" it is in reality a colonial scheme intneded to economically exploit Africa, stating that the profits made from the scheme are "not for Africans".[13]

Some allege that AGOA is in contradiction with WTO rules.[citation needed] Furthermore, it is seen as a one-sided agreement as there was little African involvement in its preparation.

AGOA has also been criticized for being "dominated by oil and raw materials" After the enactment of AGOA, "exports have increased by more than 500 per cent from around $8.2 billion then to $54 billion in 2011, although about 90 per cent of these are natural resources, mainly oil," wrote Andualem Sisay.

Michael Mann points out that AGOA contains a clause requiring participating African countries not to oppose US foreign policy and "exacts indirect imperial tribute" from African states.[14]


  1. ^ "The African Growth and Opportunity Act: Looking Back, Looking Forward". 30 November 2001.
  2. ^ Pub. L. 106-200 retrieved from the United States Government Printing Office website August 23, 2010
  3. ^ B&FT. "US outlines new AGOA strategy". GhanaWeb.
  4. ^ "Obama signs trade (Incl. AGOA), worker assistance bills into law - - African Growth and Opportunity Act".
  6. ^ "The African Growth and Opportunity Act: Building Trade Capacity". Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  7. ^ "AGOA architect McDermott knighted in Lesotho - - African Growth and Opportunity Act". Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  8. ^ "The Foreign Service Journal, May 2004". FlippingBook. Retrieved 2021-02-23.
  9. ^ Brookings Institution (June 2012). "the African Growth and Opportunity Act:Looking Back, Looking Forward" (PDF).
  10. ^ "Text of notification to Congress on Burundi's suspension from AGOA from 2016 - - African Growth and Opportunity Act".
  11. ^ Donaldson, Tara (September 8, 2017). "New African Nations Get AGOA Trade Benefits, Others at Risk". Sourcing Journal. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  12. ^ "Determination Under the African Growth and Opportunity Act". Federal Register. 2017-08-22. Retrieved 2017-09-08.
  13. ^ Africa in the Colonial Ages of Empire (2018), page 453
  14. ^ Mann, Michael (2003). Incoherent Empire. London: Verso. p. 74. ISBN 1-84467-528-9.

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