AGOA: An opportunity to increase trade and investment between Togo and the U.S.

Economic governance
Monday, 06 November 2023 13:05
AGOA: An opportunity to increase trade and investment between Togo and the U.S.

(Togo First) - By Elizabeth A.N. Fitzsimmons, Ambassador of the United States of America to Togo

At the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in December 2022, President Biden said "The United States is fully committed to Africa."

The future lies in Africa. One example is its young population: the median age in Togo is seventeen and a half. By 2050, one in four of the world's inhabitants will be in Africa. What happens in Africa will have an impact on the rest of the world, and we want to work together to ensure that it is promising, safe, and prosperous.

Our stories have always been linked. Today, we know that our success, the success of all our fellow citizens, on both sides of the Atlantic, is inextricably connected. Our African partners, including Togo, play a central role in the U.S. approach to trade, which is accessible, fair, competitive, and resilient. We must work together to protect the dignity of all workers and the sustainability of our planet and seek excellence within institutions and companies.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA, is a key pillar in realizing this vision of shared prosperity. Since it was signed, over two decades ago, AGOA has impacted millions of Africans. By offering duty-free access to the U.S. market for over 6,800 different products, the act has helped create jobs and new economic opportunities, particularly for women and young people. If you run a business here in Togo, I urge you to approach the Togo Chamber of Commerce for information on ways to leverage AGOA to increase your sales, train more employees, and improve your community.

AGOA illustrates how we can use trade as a force for good. To maintain their eligibility, countries must respect several fundamental values typical of free and fair societies: the rule of law, respect for human rights, the fight against corruption, and the protection of workers' rights.

AGOA is intended to be a transformative tool for bolstering inclusive prosperity in sub-Saharan Africa. Policy tools like AGOA are meant to be used, tested, and refined over time, which is the purpose of the AGOA Forum (Ed. note: this year, the event was hosted in Johannesburg, South Africa, from November 2 to 4).

Each year, the U.S. Trade Representative and the trade ministers of each AGOA country meet to take stock of their joint work and identify opportunities to do more. This meeting is an opportunity to assess current achievements and, perhaps most importantly, to discuss how we can improve AGOA to better serve more Africans and Americans.

Also, the Forum gathers African and U.S. government officials, civil society and labor leaders, as well as private sector investors, focused on a common goal: leveraging trade to create better opportunities.

In Togo, an impact of AGOA is that it helped the country lay the foundations for a modern textile industry, thanks to preferential access to the US market. Last month, we had the pleasure of witnessing the first shipment of clothing exports from the Plateforme Industrielle d'Adétikopé (PIA) to the United States under a contract with Children's Place. I hope we can find more opportunities for local companies to export high-quality, high-value products to the United States.

This is why the Biden-Harris administration fully supports the renewal of AGOA, as the benefits of the legislation are set to expire in 2025. The U.S. Congress has the power to reauthorize this law, and we are committed to working closely with Congress throughout the process to ensure that this legislation is effective and relevant. Another sign of the U.S. government's commitment to increasing business opportunities for small businesses is the upcoming visit to Togo of U.S. Cabinet Secretary and Special Advisor, Isabel Guzman, head of the Small Business Administration. She is the voice in President Biden's cabinet for America's 33 million small businesses, and from Sunday, November 5, to Wednesday, November 8, she will visit Lomé, Togo, and Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, to promote women's entrepreneurship and international trade opportunities for small businesses.

This is a moment of privilege in Togo's economic engagement with the United States, and I look forward to a robust and forward-looking conversation at the AGOA Forum and beyond."

To contact us: c o n t a c t [@] t o g o f i r s t . c o m

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