Promoting Trade

The Department of State’s Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs is devoted to providing technical expertise in regional and bilateral trade negotiations including labor, environment, services, government procurement, trade remedies, and trade capacity building. This bureau helps to oversee programs such as African Growth and Opportunity Act.

In Cameroon, the African Growth Opportunity Act’s (AGOA) benefits are helping a local apparel factory find a U.S. market for its products. The factory sent one container of T-shirts in January 2010 and a second container in March. Revenue from the orders are helping the owner, Biack, begin to realize his goal of expanding the company—creating hundreds of new jobs for young women. Biack credits AGOA with the opportunity to grow his business. “We will soon be able to ramp up to a container per week,” he said. “We’ll be very active, with two or three shifts. And that would mean adding more than 200 employees. We haven’t done this kind of exporting here and it’s only thanks to AGOA.”

The African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) was enacted in May 2000 to expand trade and investment between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. AGOA provides trade preferences to designated African countries that are making progress in economic and political reforms. Thanks in part to AGOA, U.S. imports from sub-Saharan Africa increased from $21.3 billion in 2001 to $86.1 billion in 2008.