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Trade can be a powerful tool for the reduction of poverty in developing nations. But U.S. agriculture and trade policy has sometimes undermined African countries’ efforts to take the first step out of poverty.
The main way Bread for the World has been addressing hunger in the area of trade in agricultural goods is through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This legislation offers tangible incentives for African countries to continue to open their economies and build free markets.
AGOA remains the most important piece of legislation that defines trade relationships between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa.
AGOA allows almost all African products to be imported to the United States duty-free. The act has helped expand and diversify African exports to the United States. Exports from sub-Saharan countries have increased more than four times since 2001 and totaled $26.8 billion for 2013, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
The president signed a new ten-year African Growth and Opportunity Act in 2015. The reauthorized bill expanded U.S. technical assistance that specifically prioritized women smallholder farmers.
AGOA’s achievements illustrate its great potential to spur economic growth. Agriculture-led growth, which has the greatest impact on poverty, is still urgently needed. The food-price crisis of 2007-2008, followed by the worldwide recession, caused an increase in hunger and malnutrition and continued high poverty rates. An estimated 80 percent of Africa’s hungry and poor people support themselves through agriculture.
According to the World Bank, 11 of the 20 fastest-growing economies are in Africa. So there is great potential in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa to expand businesses and thus provide more people with jobs and incomes.
Bread has worked in this area in recent years with a network of African-American and African leaders calling for the empowerment of our African sisters and brothers by advocating for policies that eradicate hunger, poverty, and disease.
By working as partners, we allow the people of Africa to lead more prosperous, stable, and healthy lives.
By Jordan Teague, senior international policy advisor
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