Agoa: An opportunity for Obama to define his Africa legacy
Everyone stands to gain if Africa can sustain and accelerate its progress in tackling poverty and finding jobs for its growing young population. The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) rarely makes headlines in the United States. But the frequency with which it was raised during President Barack Obama's recent trip to Africa underlines how important the trade legislation is seen on the continent both as a driver of progress and as a symbol of the US's relations with it.
The Act, which began operating in 2001, has succeeded in its goal of helping reduce poverty through increased trade and investment with the US. Incomes have been raised and hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created, especially for women.
And while the biggest growth in trade has been in oil, Agoa has also helped strengthen and diversify economies. Lesotho and Kenya are among the nations which have seen the opportunities provided through Agoa and trigger crucial investment in new sectors and industries.
But while Agoa, which enables African countries that show progress towards a market-based economy to export a wide range of products to the US free of quotas or duty, is widely supported across the continent, it remains more controversial in the United States. Critics have warned that extending the Act beyond 2015 would damage America's own interests and employment.
The Act's opponents argue that Africa's impressive growth in the 21st century means the continent no longer needs special treatment.... Read the full, comprehensive news article and discuss at The Teacher/Daily Mail & Guardian