Katherine Tai, the U.S. Trade Representative, announced Monday that her agency would sign a memorandum of understanding with African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) countries to expand the U.S.-Africa trade relationship.
During an interview at Semafor’s Africa Summit, Tai also spoke about finding ways to improve on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which is set to expire in 2025.
Tai said she wants to better align AGOA with ACFTA’s ambitions. AGOA, a Clinton-era piece of legislation is set to expire in 2025. Tai said she sees the law as “foundational” but that there were real opportunities for innovation and expansion in U.S.-Africa trade.
“The world that we are living in today certainly has been transformed by significant events that we have experienced since 2015, the last time the program was reauthorized,” she said. “We have consistently seen that there are opportunities for the program to be better, a better uptake and utilization of the program.”
She said that while reworking AGOA will still focus on trade preferences and tariffs, there will also be a shift into investment programs between the U.S. and Arica.
“The real focus of the conversations with my trading partners now and across emerging world is... what we are looking for in terms of breaking through in development -- yes trade preferences, but even more so on how to attract investment,” she said.
AGOA was signed into law by the U.S. Congress in 2000. The program provides duty-free goods from the U.S. to designated sub-Saharan African countries. To become an AGOA member, countries must show continuous progress toward establishing a market-based economy, the rule of law, political pluralism, and the right to due process, according to the USTR office.