AGOA CSO Network Secretariat
President Obama Reinstates Guinea Bissau and Removes South Sudan and Gambia from List of AGOA Eligible Countries, effective January 1, 2015
|The Honorable Barack Obama, President, USA|
On December 20, 2014, during the holiday season, President Barack Obama issued Proclamation 8921 which reinstated Guinea Bissau's African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) benefits, effective January 1, 2015. Guinea Bissau was removed from the list of AGOA eligible countries by President Obama on December 20, 2012 due to systemic corruption that had turned the country in to an epicenter for drugs and light arms trafficking by criminal syndicates.
The Presidential Proclamation also removed South Sudan and The Gambia from the AGOA list of eligible countries effective January 1, 2015.
South Sudan was designated AGOA eligible by President Obama in December 20, 2012, but, in recent months, the country has been engulfed in civil war, and the government of South Sudan has been accused of human rights violations, and crimes against humanity.
The Gambia was designated AGOA eligible in 2003 by President George W. Bush; however, recently, The Gambia has also been accused of human and civil rights violations, and the country's President, Yaya Jameh faced an unsuccessful military coup a few days ago.
Earlier, in October 2014, President Obama signed a Presidential Proclamation removing Swaziland as a beneficiary under AGOA. As of January 1, 2015, forty (40) sub- Saharan African countries are eligible under AGOA, a unilateral preferential trade agreement that compels countries to meet eligibility requirements set forth in section 104 of the AGOA and section 502 of the 1974 Act.
While AGOA is due to end by September 30, 2015, members of the AGOA Civil Society Network and other stakeholders on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are diligently working to galvanize support in US Congress for its seamless renewal. Read full Presidential Proclamation
On behalf of the 2013-2014 advisory board members and the Secretariat of the AGOA Civil Society Network, thank you for your continued support and contribution to the success of the CSO Session of the 13th AGOA Forum: AGOA: Re-
Authorization Beyond 2015 (AGOA CSO Network website) that took place August 1-5, 2014 in Washington, DC.
As you know, the CSO Session of the 13th AGOA Ministerial Forum coincided with the 1st US-Africa Leaders' Summit which brought President Barack Obama and 50 African Heads of States and Governments together for the first time in the history of US-Africa relations to address challenges and opportunities facing US-Africa relations and cooperation.
Let me add my voice to the many, by congratulating the Obama Administration for organizing this first ever US-Africa Leader's Summit. We hope that as a product of this historic Summit, US-Africa relations and cooperation will be raised to new heights, and result in mutually beneficial trade, and economic ties, stronger cultural and strategic alliances; and the timely re-authorization of AGOA, before its September 30th, 2015 expiration.
As Chair of the AGOA Civil Society Organization Network, let me share with you the Communique including recommendations that were presented to the AGOA Ministerial Session on your behalf on Monday, August 5, 2014:
- Re-authorization - Call on U.S. Congress to (a) seamlessly extend AGOA through re-authorization legislation from the current expiration date of September 30, 2015, to September 30, 2030 (b) extend Third Country Fabric provisions for the same time period, and (c) connect "Feed the Future" legislation to support AGOA objectives.
- Diaspora - Call on AGOA national countries to implement policies, and program that encourages and welcome Diaspora participation in AGOA initiatives, including financing facilities as incentives for Diaspora business and investment.
- Trade Capacity Building - Call on the U.S. Congress to make AGOA re-authorization comprehensive to formally include trade assistance as a complement to trade liberalization, and prioritize capacity building initiatives that are in line with specific doing business issues for SME's, Small Holder Farmers, and artisans . The CSO session participants commend Chairman Royce for his efforts to introduce such language into the re-authorization bill. Call on AGOA national governments to create AGOA Resource Centers to work with SME's and Small Holder Farmers.
- Access to Financing - Call on AGOA national governments to develop new trade financing opportunities for SME's and Small Holder Farmers through national, regional and multi-lateral institutions. Call on the U.S. government to utilize existing U.S. agency resources more effectively to provide access to trade financing.
- Trade Facilitation & Global Value Chains - Call on the U.S. Congress to promote in AGOA re-authorization, the implementation of trade facilitation best practices and capacity building in technology, training, and corresponding regulatory and legal frameworks, to create opportunities for SME's in Global Value Chains. Relaxing the rule of origin for canned tuna would create significant new market opportunities for the tuna canning industries that already exist in six African countries.
- Accountability and Transparency - Call on the U.S. Congress to require greater transparency and accountability of AGOA/USAID Regional Trade Hubs" work in capacity building activities, and equip them to prioritize program support for SME's and Small Holder Farmers.
- Market Gateways and PPPs - Call on the U.S. Congress to promote Market Gateways and PPP's that can provide African SME's and Small Holder Farmers demand for goods, access to U.S. markets, and supply chain networks. Call on AGOA national governments and their export promotion agencies to partner with such organizations and connect them with potential Africa exporters and importers that are prime to joining Global Value Chains.
- Transportation & Regional Economic Integration - Call on the U.S. Congress to highlight in AGOA re authorization legislation, support for aviation and intra-regional transportation programs that provide sharing of best practices, training, and next generation technology to support regional economic integration. Call on AGOA national governments to work together to pool resources and create complementary aviation related services that can provide regional reach.
- Inclusive Trade and Development - Call on the U.S. Congress to strengthen language in AGOA re authorization to support programs that increase women-owned enterprises' participation in trade, and in programs that encourage youth to embrace vocations in agriculture. Call on AGOA national governments to adopt policies to improve women's economic opportunities based on the indicators of the World Bank's 2014 study on "Women, Business and the Law."
- Civil Society Secretariat - Call on the U.S. Congress to include support in re-authorization for the AGOA Civil Society Organization Network Secretariat to implement its mandates and programs, including the establishment of a fellowship program to provide training and capacity building for women, youth, and tomorrow's leaders.
For complete recommendations and Communique visit our website:click here!
As major stakeholders in the expansion of democracy, human rights, freedom, peace and prosperity in Africa, we are once again faced with the responsibility of working on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean to get the necessary political support and citizen's engagement to persuade the US Congress to re authorize AGOA, a unilateral preferential trade agreement, I ask you to share the above recommendations with your network members, colleagues, friends, City Council members, Mayor; Governor; representatives in the State Assembly; Parliaments;the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate,TODAY and URGE them to support these recommendations and ensure they are included in the AGOA Re-Authorization Bill. Ask your elected officials to support the timely renewal of AGOA before the September 30, 2015 deadline to avoid market instability; including job and market share losses on both sides the Atlantic Ocean. Since the last CSO Session of the 13th AGOA Forum and the US Africa Leaders, the Secretariat and network members held the following meetings, and participated in following events to advocate for support for AGOA re-authorization:
- August 7, 2014 14, 2014 - met with the House Foreign Affairs Committee
- August 15, 2014 -- members of the AGOA CSO Network participated closed door briefing hosted by Ambassador Michael Forman, United States Trade Representative (USTR); Ms. Florie Liser, Assistant USTR for Africa and other Senior staff members of the US Trade Representative's Office
- September 25, 2014 - participated on the AGOA renewal panel during the Congressional Black Caucus, Brain Trust
- October 8, 2014 - members of the AGOA CSO Working Group met with Representative Karen Bass, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee to present recommendations from the Communique, and to discuss AGOA's renewal
- October 15, 2014 - met with the House Foreign Affairs Sub-committee staff
- October 26-28, 2014 - participated in the 16th Annual AfrICANDO U.S. Africa Trade and Investment Symposium and Trade Show in Miami, Florida (www.democracy-africa.org)
- November 4, 2014 - met with the Ways and Means Sub- Committee on Trade
November 4, 2014 -met with the House Foreign Affairs Committee
As you know, some of our recommendations are addressed to AGOA national governments and require civil society organization outreach and advocacy at country level. The Secretariat is ready, willing and available to work with you to engage members of your legislative and executive branches of government, and fellow citizens on the benefit of trade as engine for economic growth and wealth creation.
It is time to renew your membership for 2015
, and encourage members of your network and friends to become members of the AGOA Civil Society Organization Network. Your membership and contributions drive the work of the Secretariat. We need and value support - join us, today!
On behalf on the Secretariat, and members of the 2013-2014 advisory board, I wish you a peaceful and prosperous 2015.
AGOA Re-Authorization Efforts Move Forward
Ambassador Michael Froman, USTR
Washington, DC --- Members of the AGOA CSO Network are forcefully moving ahead to gain congressional support for re-authorization of AGOA prior to the September 30, 2015 expiration of the bill. Fred Oladeinde,
Chairman of the AGOA CSO Secretariat, and some members of the AGOA CSO have initiated informational briefings with key congressional staff members. Meetings have been held with the staffs of the Foreign Relations Committee, Finance Committee, and Ways and Means Committee to discuss the recommendations from the August AGOA CSO Forum held in Washington, D.C. prior to the historic African Leaders Summit.
Additionally, AGOA CSO Network members met with the US Trade Representative (USTR), Ambassador Forman and Assistant USTR, Ms. Florie Liser to discuss recommendations from the Forum. The discussions were fruitful and have the support of the Obama Administration on most issues. President Obama has created a White House Working Group on Africa which assigned Shari Berenbach, President , US African Development Foundation to handle Civil Society issues. During the meeting with us, Ms. Berenbach agreed to include our recommendations in the next full working group session. Both the Administration and congressional officials suggested that our future strategy include direct contact with congressional leaders from constituent CSOs in their districts. The AGOA Secretariat
will draft a suggested letter of support for member CSOs to include in their outreach to their congressional representatives.
Network Working Group Meeting
The next AGOA Civil Society Network Working Group meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 10:00
Please plan to participate!!!
The AGOA Civil Society Network is a consortium of non-governmental organizations, (NGOs) and other groups in the United States and Africa working to facilitate the successful application of the AGOA trade bill for the benefit of small business in the US, and Africa. The Network was established by the 102 member organizations from the United States, Mauritius, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Namibia, Mali, Lesotho and the Democratic Republic of Congo that were in attendance during the AGOA Civil Society Forum on January 17, 2003, in Phoenix, Mauritius. The AGOA CSO Network's focus is on increasing the volume and quality of African exports under AGOA and educating stakeholders on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean on this trade policy and its advantages.
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