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Road to AGOA Reauthorization: The Future of US-Africa Trade and Investment

On June 18th, 2024, the Wilson Center Africa Program welcomed Senator Chris Coons and a panel of distinguished US and Africa leaders to the Wilson Center to discuss the reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) as well as US-Africa trade and investment.

Date & Time

Tuesday
Jun. 18, 2024
12:10pm – 1:30pm ET

Location

6th Floor Flom Auditorium, Woodrow Wilson Center
and Online

Overview

The afternoon began with an introduction from Wilson Center Director and CEO, Ambassador Mark A. Green who reflected on the critical role of AGOA in US-Africa engagement and the importance of strong, mutually beneficial partnerships in US-Africa relations. 

Following Ambassador Green’s remarks, Senator Chris Coons provided his remarks on AGOA and highlighted key portions of the AGOA Renewal and Improvement Act, a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Senator Coons and Senator Risch which would enhance and extend AGOA until 2041. Senator Coons emphasized the importance of a US-Africa relationship rooted in mutual respect and shared values, warned against viewing Africa through the lens of ‘great power competition’, and touched on how African nations can graduate from AGOA to long-term, durable and sustainable trade partners. American engagement, he said, will demonstrate that the United States is a reliable, open-handed and strong partner to African nations, and AGOA is a critical part of this engagement that must be renewed rapidly. Following his remarks, Senator Coons joined Africa Program Director Oge Onubogu in a fireside chat, describing how the prospects for AGOA reauthorization are “positive” due bipartisan support for the bill, but that the renewal process will face some “headwinds”, as trade has become a contentious topic in American policymaking.

"Africa is the most important continent of this century and we in the United States need to act like it” – Senator Chris Coons at the Wilson Center, June 2024

Panelists Florizelle Liser,  Dr. Patrick Utomi,  Kendra Gaither and Sam duPont joined moderator Witney Scheidman to share their insights regarding AGOA, US-Africa trade and audience questions. 

Ms. Florie Liser emphasized the importance of taking advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in this reauthorization round and the need to go beyond AGOA to build strong US-Africa trade relations. Ms. Kendra Gaither added her thoughts on the importance of digital transformations and codifying digital trade as a shared priority in AGOA’s reauthorization. She also shared a word of caution against waiting for bills to expire before taking substantive action for renewal, with reference to the Generalized System of Preferences. Africa Program Public Policy Fellow Dr. Patrick Utomi shared his first-hand experience working with AGOA on the continent and reflected on how the small size of many African economies makes global market engagement challenging alone, thus a key challenge is how to aggregate across borders to enhance their potential gains with an emphasis on the AfCFTA. Sam duPont, economic policy advisor to Senator Coons, reviewed key changes and additions under Senator Coons’ AGOA Renewal and Improvement Act and addressed the bill’s enhancements to eligibility requirements and consideration of the changing landscape of Africa’s inter-continental trade. 

This event was held under the Brown Capital Management Africa Forum

For more from the Wilson Center on AGOA Renewal, visit our AGOA: Road to Reauthorization Collection. 

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Africa Program

The Africa Program works to address the most critical issues facing Africa and US-Africa relations, build mutually beneficial US-Africa relations, and enhance knowledge and understanding about Africa in the United States. The Program achieves its mission through in-depth research and analyses, public discussion, working groups, and briefings that bring together policymakers, practitioners, and subject matter experts to analyze and offer practical options for tackling key challenges in Africa and in US-Africa relations.    Read more

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