The Commissioner for Trade and Industry of the African Union Commission, Ambassador Albert Muchanga encouraged trade ministers to be ready to accept the extension of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) as senior delegates prepare to enter deal talks on Thursday.
The Agoa Forum, which has brought together government representatives from the United States and Agoa-eligible countries, alongside key regional economic organisations, the private sector, civil society, and organised labour, started on Thursday. It is taking place in Nasrec, Johannesburg, until Saturday.
Addressing trade ministries from Agoa African countries, Ambassador Muchanga said the extension of the Agoa would generate certainty and encourage investments.
US Senator John Kennedy introduced the Agoa Extension Act of 2023 bill to Congress last month with the intention of extending the programme for 20 years to 2045.
Congress last extended the Agoa in 2015 by 10 years, authorising the programme through 2025.
Ambassador Muchanga encouraged trade ministers and senior officials from the African continent to “be ready to accept” the extension, and if any enhancements needed to be made, they could be done after the extension.
“If the offer is 20 years, we as Africa should be ready to accept that. Ten to 20 [years] is very useful to the investment community. It gives them time to put their money in to generate products that will be exported under Agoa, and it gives them time to generate profits from those investments,” Ambassador Muchanga said.
“It’s a market of 1.4 billion people, which is currently 18% of the global population.
“We are going to be a source of labour. We are going to be a major global consumption hub, and any serious investor will not overlook Africa,” Ambassador Muchanga said.
The theme for this intergovernmental gathering has been hinged on “Partnering to Build a Resilient, Sustainable, and Inclusive Agoa to Support Economic Development, Industrialisation and Quality Job Creation".
The main day of talks will take place on Friday, with President Cyril Ramaphosa expected to deliver the keynote address and officially open the forum.