The US-Africa program should be extended through 2041, a Senate Democrat says. A leading expert on U.S.-African relations and a Democrat, Senator Chris Coons, suggested developing a trade program that allows duty-free access to the U.S. market for products from eligible African nations by 16 years.
The two-decade-old African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), set to expire in 2025, is currently the subject of talks over its renewal.
In advance of the 2024 presidential election in the United States, African nations want a 10-year extension of the agreement. Although it has demanded specific changes, President Joe Biden’s administration is likewise looking to reauthorize the program.
A Senate Foreign Relations Committee member named Coons has proposed a bill that would integrate the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which covers the majority of African nations, and AGOA.
A draft version of the bill that Reuters exclusively obtained indicates that the program would keep benefits for wealthier countries, allowing them to stay until they are deemed five years high-income instead of taking them away if they meet that threshold for just one year.
“My AGOA Renewal Act would extend this program, incentivizing investments that will create jobs, bolster economic development, and strengthen our standing in the region,” Coons stated in a press release.
The committee’s chairman, Senator Ben Cardin, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The leading Republican on the panel, James Risch, expressed his support for the program’s early reauthorization in a letter to Biden administration officials on Thursday. However, he also requested adjustments to the program’s qualifying requirements and other improvements.
Under the scheme, African goods valued at over $10 billion were allowed entry into the U.S. duty-free in 2022. There are disagreements on updating the agreement despite bipartisan support for it in Washington.
However, she did not specify how U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Saturday that the goal of AGOA should be to increase the number of qualifying nations using the program.
American business associations have stated that for African nations to benefit from a worldwide movement to lessen reliance on Chinese manufacturing, they want clarity on AGOA.