Neal Statement on ITC Report on U.S. Preference Program for Sub-Saharan Africa
Washington, D.C., April 17, 2023
Today, Ways and Means Ranking Member Richard E. Neal (D-MA) released the following statement on the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (Commission) report, Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA): Program Usage, Trends, and Sectoral Highlights. In January 2022, Ranking Member Neal asked the Commission to assess the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a trade preference program for sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and to analyze specific industries in AGOA beneficiary countries. Over twenty years ago, Congress passed AGOA on a bipartisan basis to promote African development, strengthen regional ties and democracy, incentivize economic reform, and to deepen U.S. – African trade and investment. As set forth in the AGOA Extension and Enhancement Act of 2015, the program is set to expire on September 30, 2025.
“The Commission’s report will help inform the Committee’s deliberations as we consider the future of AGOA,” Ranking Member Neal said. “AGOA has been the cornerstone of U.S. – Africa trade policy for over 20 years. The world, however, looks a lot different than it did then and it’s important that our trade policies reflect the realities of today and prepare for tomorrow. With Africa being the seat of the fastest growing population, driving more investment to the continent and creating opportunities for businesses in both Africa and the U.S., including the diaspora is important.
Neal continued with: “While certain sectors and countries have benefitted from the program, AGOA has not achieved all that we had hoped, and more work must be done to improve our economic relationships. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa continue to face challenges exporting to the United States and U.S. companies face similar challenges exporting there. As we consider the future of AGOA, we need to remember the boldness that led us to establish it in the first place. Not only should we find creative ways to improve AGOA’s utilization rates, increase value-added exports to the U.S., and ensure that benefits actually flow to the African countries, but we should take a holistic approach to deepening our trade and investment relationship. That means considering ways to improve healthcare, protect the environment, increase women’s economic empowerment, incentivize investment, and ensure that all segments of the economy are benefiting from the trade relationship, including young people. This is an exciting time for the future of U.S. – African relations, and I thank the Commission for not only conducting this investigation but also delivering the report on time.”
“The Ways and Means Committee has been in the driver’s seat when it comes to advancing and thinking creatively about U.S. trade policy with the African continent, and AGOA is a proud product of our Committee,” concluded Ranking Member Neal. “I look forward to working with my colleagues and all stakeholders on the future of this critically important trade program.”
Ranking Member Neal’s request reflects deep interest among members of the Committee in the U.S. – Africa trade and investment relationship and follows recent Committee activity. Last December, Ranking Member Neal led congressional engagement with African trade ministers during the 2022 AGOA forum.