SA youth NPO welcomes Agoa renewal bill

The banner of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) Forum, held at the Nasrec Expo Centre in November last year. Picture: Itumeleng English/Independent Newspapers

The banner of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) Forum, held at the Nasrec Expo Centre in November last year. Picture: Itumeleng English/Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 15, 2024


Afrika Tikkun, a non-profit youth organisation for disadvantaged communities in South Africa, has welcomed the US bipartisan effort to renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) until 2041.

Democrat Senator Chris Coons and Republican Senator James Risch, introduced a 34-page “Agoa Renewal and Improvement Act of 2024” bill in Congress last week, in a bid to renew and strengthen a key trade programme with sub-Saharan African countries.

Agoa provides eligible sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free access to the US market for over 1 800 products, in addition to the more than 5 000 products that are eligible for duty-free access under the Generalized System of Preferences programme.

Afrika Tikkun executive deputy chairman Marc Lubner yesterday said they strongly supported initiatives that create opportunities for youth, both commercially and socially.

Lubner said the renewal of Agoa would be a catalyst for youth empowerment as it aligned with their programmes dedicated to equipping young people with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in a a Western-style democracy system.

“Agoa has been instrumental in fostering economic growth and development across Africa, and its renewal aligns with our mission to equip young South Africans with the tools they need to thrive in a globalised economy,” Lubner said.

“The renewal of Agoa will provide SA’s youth with the opportunity to capitalise on these opportunities, furthering economic development and fostering a more prosperous future for South Africa and the continent as a whole.”

Since its enactment in 2000, Agoa has been at the core of US economic policy and commercial engagement with Africa.

To meet Agoa’s rigorous eligibility requirements, countries must establish or make continual progress towards establishing a market-based economy, the rule of law, political pluralism and the right to due process.

Risch last week encouraged Congress to swiftly reauthorise Agoa and its next administration to pursue a broader, two-way strategy with Africa that went beyond trade preferences and met the needs of the 21st century.

He said Agoa played a significant role in US-sub-Saharan Africa trade and investment, as well as in US foreign policy.

“This bipartisan bill aims to refine Agoa’s eligibility criteria, increase transparency and hold US agencies accountable for their advice to the president,” Risch said.

“This legislation will bolster Congress’ involvement in the eligibility process and oversight, demonstrating a strong commitment to Agoa.”

If it became law, the Agoa Renewal and Improvement Act would extend Agoa by 16 years, from 2025 until 2041.

Coons said this long-term extension would offer businesses the certainty they needed to increase investment in sub-Saharan Africa at a time when many firms were looking to diversify their supply chains away from China.

He said the legislation would extend Agoa and improve the programme to encourage sustainable development, regional integration and stronger relations between the US and countries in the region.

“Over the past 24 years, Agoa has created jobs and economic growth in one of the fastest-growing regions of the world and created investment opportunities for American businesses,” he said.

“The Agoa Renewal and Improvement Act is necessary to support continued economic development on the continent, while further strengthening ties between the United States and partners in sub-Saharan Africa.”