ONE recently sat down with Ambassador Demetrios Marantis, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, to discuss the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and, more broadly, how trade can positively impact development.
AGOA, which was signed into law in May 2000, offers incentives for African countries to build free markets and open their economies up—unlocking the potential of the continent. This year’s annual forum, with the theme of “Enhanced Trade Through Increased Competitiveness, Value Addition and Deeper Regional Integration,” is being hosted by Zambia from June 9-10. Related to AGOA is USAID’s Africa Global Competitiveness Initiative. This five-year, $200 million program, which began in 2006, recently issued a compendium of success stories and case studies that track success in eliminating barriers to trade and forging local partnerships.
See below for excerpts from the interview with Ambassador Marantis:
Why should anti-poverty activists like our ONE members care about global trade?
Because you can see that creating opportunities to export creates jobs and therefore creates economic opportunities. You see the benefits in the US, Africa and throughout developing world, the real interrelationship between trade, exports and job creation.
What’s next for AGOA?
One major thing coming to a theater near you -– in 2012, there’s a provision of AGOA that expires -– that’s the provision that helps African apparel makers use fabric used in a third country and have that qualify for AGOA preferences. The administration is pushing to renew that provision for 2015, which is when the program expires. That’s a major priority of ours. And add South Sudan to our list of potentially eligible countries once it achieves its independence.
Tomorrow, you and several other African and American leaders are meeting in Lusaka, Zambia for the AGOA forum. What do you hope the outcome will be?
First, we need to work together to take our trade and investment to the next phase. This conference provides an opportunity to lay the groundwork. Second, we need to continue a really honest conversation about what works in AGOA and what doesn’t. As we look toward renewal, we’re sure we’ve learned from success and failure. Lastly, we want to provide the opportunity to meet bilaterally with governments and a variety of stakeholders and business leaders who all care about the same thing on how to promote trade assistance with the US and sub-Saharan Africa.