The long-awaited week is finally here. US and African policymakers will fill the Sandton Convention Centre to discuss the African Growth & Opportunities Act (Agoa), America’s flagship trade preference programme. It is a pivotal time for the future of Agoa, since the legislation is set to expire in two years’ time after a 25-year run. While legislation for an extension has been introduced, there have been justified calls for reform.

US trade representative Constance Hamilton recently noted that the US should make changes to improve the programme ahead of its congressional reauthorisation due to low utilisation. Last year the US House of Representatives committee on ways & means requested an investigation and report on Agoa, its utilisation and the extent to which it has contributed to economic development in Africa. It found that Agoa has had a positive but limited impact on beneficiary countries’ exports to the US...

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