The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was signed into law on May 18, 2000 as Title 1 of The Trade and Development Act of 2000. The Act offers tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets.
The purpose of this legislation is to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and to improve economic relations between the United States and the region.
The legislation authorized the President of the United States to determine which sub-Saharan African countries would be eligible for AGOA on an annual basis.
Countries’ inclusion has fluctuated with changes in the local political environment. In December of 2009, for example, Guinea, Madagascar, and Niger were all removed from the list of eligible countries; by October of 2011, though, eligibility was restored to Guinea and Niger.
Additional rules of origin are applied to apparel. Having AGOA eligibility does not imply automatic eligibility for a “Wearing Apparel” provision. To export apparel and certain textile to the United States under the AGOA duty-free, an eligible country must have implemented a “Visa System” that satisfies American authorities and proves compliance with the AGOA rules about origin.
AGOA provides trade preferences for quota and duty-free entry into the United States for certain goods, expanding the benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program.
Notably, AGOA expanded market access for textile and apparel goods into the United States for eligible countries, though many other goods are also included. This resulted in the growth of an apparel industry in southern Africa, and created hundreds of thousands of jobs.