By Carlos Lopes and Kamal Dervis

The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) rarely makes headlines in the US. But the frequency with which it was raised during President 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 need to extend Agoa, due to expire in 2015, was a clear priority for the countries the President visited.

It should also be a welcomed by the US – evidence shows that the benefits are in both directions. Read more

Florizelle Liser, U.S. assistant trade representative, speaks at the U.S.-Africa Business Summit, in Cape Town, South Africa, on Friday, Nov. 16, 2007The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, a US law passed in 2000, was geared to enable African countries to export over 4,000 products quota-free and duty-free to the US.

But a recent paper published by the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University claimed the AGOA had been inadvertently allowing Chinese apparel producers to send products to the US through Africa, gaining free access but with minimal assembly and value-added for the African countries they operated in.

Florie Liser (pictured), assistant US trade representative for African affairs, rejects the researchers’ claim. Read more

US-Africa trade received a welcome boost with the signing of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) back in May 2000, which enabled African countries to export over 4,000 products, including apparel, quota-free and duty-free to the US. Geared to support the integration of African countries into global markets, AGOA has enjoyed cross-party support in US legislature that is often divided, especially on trade. It has been renewed several times by different presidents. Helping Africa, it seems, is something everyone can agree on.

But they might, unwittingly, have been helping China, too. Read more