The U.S. House of Representatives (voting 309-110) and the Senate (voting 77-19) have passed the African Growth and Opportunity Act (H.R. 434) (AGOA), and President Clinton signed it into law on May 18, 2000. (The Act is part of the Trade and Development Act of 2000 which also provides trade benefits to the Caribbean Basin, Albania, and Kyrgyzstan). The AGOA seeks to promote a positive trading partnership between the U.S. and the 48 listed nations of Sub- Sarahan Africa.
In particular, the Act will "authorize a new trade and investment policy for Sub-Saharan Africa, expand trade benefits to the countries in the Caribbean Basin, renew the generalized system of preferences, and reauthorize the trade adjustment assistance programs." (Preamble) It is part of a broader initiative to support the integration of African countries into the multilateral trading system, such as the Economic Growth and Opportunity in Africa (Partnership Initiative) announced in 1997.
The AGOA emphasizes free markets and self-sufficiency. The listed sub-Saharan African countries that meet human rights and economic liberalization standards, as determined by the President, become eligible for economic programs and other support (Section 104). In particular, the Act directs the President:
(1) To convene annual high-level meetings between the U.S. government and governments of Sub-Saharan countries to foster close economic relations, and to establish a U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum as an encouragement for setting up joint ventures between large and small businesses (Section 5).
(2) To develop a plan for a U.S.-Sub-Saharan Africa Free Trade Area and to have the U.S. enter into...