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What’s Next for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)?: Revitalizing United States-Africa Relations

Khaosara Abisola Akapolawal and Feven Yohannes


  • As of 2024, thirty-two (32) African countries are eligible, with some nations recently removed due to human rights violations and democratic challenges.
  • Only a few nations account for the majority of non-oil exports to the U.S., and overall imports from AGOA beneficiaries have been modest.
  • Benefits of AGOA are not evenly distributed among eligible nations, with significant disparities in export leve
What’s Next for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)?: Revitalizing United States-Africa Relations
Monty Rakusen via Getty Images

What is AGOA?

Established in 2000 as an extension of the Generalized System of Preferences, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a preferential trading program aiming to boost U.S.-Africa trade, open markets, and encourage African countries to contribute to the global economic market. AGOA provides duty free treatment to goods from specially designated sub-Saharan African nations. While AGOA symbolizes the United States’ continued efforts to strengthen U.S.-Africa trade relations, it is set to expire in 2025.

AGOA Initiatives

Key AGOA initiatives include:

  1. Developing U.S. policies and initiatives to increase international trade and investment on the African continent;
  2. Establishing the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) Infrastructure Fund to facilitate investment in pivotal transportation, power, and infrastructure projects as well as promote trade finance expansion via the U.S. Export-Import Bank;
  3. Formulating a plan to establish a free trade agreement with sub-Saharan countries; and
  4. Expanding Africa’s participation in the global trading system through technical assistance.

Critiques of AGOA

In 2024, thirty-two African countries are AGOA eligible. Uganda, Central African Republic, Gabon, and Niger were recently removed from AGOA eligibility for their respective human rights violations and challenges to democracy. Despite this, the goal of AGOA remains clear–to ensure African countries receive opportunities to effectively participate in the increasingly intricate international trade landscape.

There are important critiques, however, pertaining to African nations’ economic growth since AGOA’s implementation and whether the Act has a meaningful economic impact on the continent. For example, there are critiques surrounding AGOA’s achievements related to labor and human rights protections, trade diversification, and economic growth. Moreover, criticisms surround the imbalance of benefits of the agreement. For example, of the AGOA-eligible nations, only five nations produce 80% of duty-free non-oil exports to the United States. Finally, AGOA critics note that imports to the United States from AGOA

beneficiaries have not lived up to the agreement’s potential, peaking in 2008 and composing around 1% of U.S. imports in 2021.

What Does AGOA’s Expiration Mean for Trade Relations?

In November 2023, South Africa hosted its annual AGOA forum to discuss the future of the trade agreement and the state of U.S.-Africa trade relations. Discussions surrounding amendments to the agreement and implementing ways to maximize the potential of AGOA have received bipartisan support. Further, President Biden’s Africa strategy outlines goals to increase investment and trade with Africa by working with Congress to extend AGOA, especially considering China’s increased presence on the continent.

With AGOA’s expiry in 2025, renewal of the trade agreement and capitalizing on the formation of the African Free Continental Trade Area would allow for the potential to renew and expand U.S.-Africa trade relations. As United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai noted, “There are so many reasons for the United States to be investing in and enhancing our relationship with Africa. We have a very strong interest for continuing to articulate our vision for how the United States can show up as a strong partner.”

Measures that could maximize the potential of AGOA include:

  1. Modifying the rules of origin to better align with the African Free Continental Trade Agreement;
  2. Allowing North African countries to become AGOA eligible;
  3. Changing annual AGOA eligibility review to occur every two to three zyears;
  4. Encouraging policy reform to support the integration of regional African economic trading blocs and entry of African nations into the global trading market; and
  5. Promoting two-way preferential trading between U.S. and African nations.


As the global trade landscape continues to grow, it remains imperative that the United States and the African continent utilize existing tools such as AGOA to maximize trading potential. With AGOA’s expiry approaching, renewal and reform to the Act will allow potential for increased jobs, export diversification, and economic growth for both sides. AGOA utilization remains key for the United States to maintain its presence in the African continent, but also to facilitate a symbiotic trade relationship.