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  • COMESA Regional Strategy for the Utilisation of AGOA 2017-2025

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    The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was enacted by the US Government in May 2000. The Act authorizes the U S President to designate Sub-Saharan African countries as eligible to receive the benefits of AGOA if they are determined to have established, or are making continual progress toward establishing the following: market-based economies; the rule of law and political pluralism; elimination of barriers to U.S. trade and investment; protection of intellectual property; efforts to combat corruption; policies to reduce poverty, increasing availability of health care and educational opportunities; protection of human rights and worker rights; and elimination of certain child labor practices. Since the year 2000, countries that were found not to continuously comply with the eligibility criteria were removed while those that were then found to be complying where reinstated for AGOA preferences.. The legislation extending the AGOA and Third country provisions to 2025 had some important changes and enhancements that include promoting greater regional integration by expanding the rule of origin and encouraging the development by AGOA beneficiary countries of utilization strategies to improve AGOA’s effectiveness and use.

    The main objectives of AGOA are to: encourage increased trade and investment between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa; reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers and other obstacles to sub-Saharan African and United States trade; and expanding United States assistance to sub-Saharan Africa’s regional integration efforts. In other words AGOA should assist COMESA AGOA eligible countries to:

    1. Increase production and export of tradable products;
    2. Diversify products exported to the U.S.A from the region;
    3. Intensify value addition; and
    4. Promote investment.

    As of October 2016, 38 Sub-Saharan African countries were eligible for AGOA preferences. AGOA and the third country fabric provisions were extended in June 2015 by 10 years through to September 2025. Among the nineteen COMESA Member States Egypt and Libya are not eligible for AGOA by design since AGOA is for Sub-Saharan African countries. As of October 2016, eleven[1] COMESA Member States were eligible for AGOA preferences while eight[2] of them were eligible for the apparel preferences. The other six have either never been designated eligible for AGOA preferences (Sudan and Zimbabwe) or have lost their eligibility due to failure to consistently meet the eligibility criteria (Burundi, DR Congo, Eritrea and Swaziland).

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