Nothing resolved at AGOA Forum
5 November 2023
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum has concluded with no certainty on whether the agreement will be extended, on whether its design will be changed, or whether South Africa will continue to enjoy its benefits.
AGOA was designed as a temporary 8-year trade benefit covering the period October 2000 to September 2008. It was extended twice, first to 2015 and then to September 2025, when it is due to expire.
Every year, the USA administration, not Congress, reviews the membership of participant countries and, if they do not comply with the requirements of the Act, suspends their benefit. Most recently Uganda, Gabon, Niger and the Central African Republic were removed, specifically for their violation of human rights.
South Africa benefited significantly from AGOA and had taken for granted that it would pass the annual review and that the Act would be extended. Both assumptions were wrong. The ANC government veered off South Africa’s non-aligned position and sided with Russia in its war on Ukraine. This placed SA’s annual renewal at risk. The Democratic Alliance (DA) sent a delegation to Washington DC to ensure that it was understood that the ANC government’s position on Russia is not unanimous. South Africa subsequently avoided a carve-out and its membership was renewed for 2024.