GAO report - Imports from sub-Saharan African countries  

July 21:  The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released a report about U.S. imports from African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)* countries.

*The AGOA is a trade preference program intended to stimulate economic development through export-led growth and to help integrate Africa into the global economy. AGOA allows eligible sub-Saharan Africa countries to export qualifying goods to the United States without import duties.

According to the GAO report, AGOA imports have increased since 2001, but AGOA countries' share of overall U.S. imports has remained small and experienced declines in recent years.

GAO analyzed total U.S. imports from AGOA countries, including both imports under AGOA (i.e., imports that received duty-free access claiming AGOA preference benefits) and other imports (i.e., imports that received duty-free access under other preference programs and international trade agreements, and imports with tariffs).

  • From 2001 to 2008, total U.S. imports both under AGOA and other imports from these countries grew from $20 billion to $82 billion—an increase of 300%.
  • Since 2008, total U.S. imports have decreased by 53%, with imports under AGOA also declining from $56 billion to $25 billion—a decrease of 56%.

The GAO also found that AGOA countries' share of U.S. imports remains small, and, in 2013, was 2%.

U.S. imports from AGOA countries are dominated by petroleum. In 2013, the top three non-petroleum products imported under AGOA were machinery and transportation equipment, textiles and apparel, and minerals and resources.

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