AGOA Countries: Challenges and Considerations in Exporting Horticultural Products to the United States
By Richard Pasco
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IPC Policy Focus: Horticultural Exports from AGOA Countries to the U.S.: Challenges and Considerations
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The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), signed on May 18, 2000, was intended to diversify Africa's export production, expand trade and investment between the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa, and accelerate Africa's economic growth. AGOA recognized the critical importance of trade and private sector investment as engines of economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa.
Ten years on, AGOA has contributed to a significant increase in African exports to the U.S., but this export growth is heavily concentrated in oil and gas products. Agriculture employs two-thirds of all Africans and is increasingly identified as a key catalyst for broad-based economic development and poverty reduction on the continent. Yet the $1.2-1.4 billion worth of agricultural goods the U.S. buys from Africa each year is only a small fraction of the total U.S. imports from the continent. The Republic of South Africa and Ghana are the only two AGOA countries that rank among the top 50 countries that export food and beverage products to the U.S.
The longer Issue Brief and the summary Policy Focus explore the reasons why agricultural exports from Africa to the U.S. are so limited, focusing on the opportunities and constraints for export of edible horticultural products because these represent important new sources of income for many AGOA countries. The paper provides an overview of both the U.S. import approval system for horticultural products and import approval requests submitted by AGOA countries and concludes with recommendations for AGOA countries and producers, U.S. policy makers and regulators, and the international community.