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Should African Leaders Seek a Renewal of AGOA?

African leaders face a dilemma over trade relations with the United States. Should they push for the extension of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) or for each country’s bilateral trade deal with the world’s biggest economy? AGOA was the signature economic policy of the Bill Clinton administration. It provides eligible sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free access to the US market for over 1,800 products. It is set to expire in 2025 but is up for discussion at the annual forum on AGOA taking place alongside the US-African Leaders Summit (13-15 December 2022). The Trump administration preferred to negotiate bilateral trade deals with African countries. A free trade agreement negotiation with Kenya in early 2020 was supposed “to serve as a model bilateral deal for other African countries”. One of the complicating factors for Africa is the sheer diversity of interests in each of the 55 member states of the African Union. There are the least developed economies like Burundi, on one hand, and sub-regional powers like South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, on the other. Balancing the competing interests among these countries has been one of the stumbling blocks to realising the vision of a continental market. These differences have also manifested themselves in negotiations of the Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union.

SOURCE: THE CONVERSATION