The African Growth and Opportunity Act: The Perils of Pursuing African Development Through U.S. Trade Law

46 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2010

See all articles by Ryan McCormick

Ryan McCormick

Office of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson

Date Written: 2006


Six years after enactment, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) remains the cornerstone of U.S. economic policy toward sub-Saharan Africa. Has AGOA fulfilled its promise to serve as a catalyst for African economic development? The author examines the legislative history that led to AGOA, the legal framework that resulted, and the economic consequences for African states. Analyzing multilateral developments in trade law, such as reforms required by the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing and China's accession to the WTO, the article considers AGOA's effect on Africa's nascent textile and apparel industry. And in case studies, the article examines AGOA's influence on two small African states, Lesotho and Benin. The author argues that three main factors have limited AGOA's effectiveness: constraints imposed by the legislative process, dependence on a one-dimensional strategy of tariff reduction, and the inherent limitations of 'special and differential' trade law treatment. The author concludes with a series of legislative proposals and policy reforms designed to maximize AGOA's development impact in the years ahead.

Keywords: Africa, development, AGOA, trade law, trade preferences, developing countries, African Growth and Opportunity Act, special and differential treatment, textiles, Lesotho, Benin, cotton subsidies, agriculture

JEL Classification: F30, F40, Q17, F42, K33, N17, N27, N37, N47, N57

Suggested Citation

McCormick, Ryan, The African Growth and Opportunity Act: The Perils of Pursuing African Development Through U.S. Trade Law (2006). Texas International Law Journal, Vol. 41, p. 339, 2006, Available at SSRN:

Ryan McCormick (Contact Author)

Office of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson ( email )

716 Hart Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510
United States
(202) 224-5274 (Phone)


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