By Emanuele Santi and Mohamed El Dahshan* [caption id="attachment_11342" align="alignleft" width="275"] President Yaya Boni of Benin and US President Barack Obama at the recent Summit in Washington,DC[/caption] As the largest-ever US-Africa gathering of leaders came to a close, the debate on the future of the US policy for Africa has once again resurfaced. While interesting suggestions are put forward by economists and other experts – this argument by the Center for Global Development on closing the energy gap is among the most interesting – it may however be judicious if, rather than hope for a new grand scheme to be implemented, we take a deeper look at the existing US economic policies and instruments towards Africa, and analyze their effect on the West African region. The flagship economic policy of the US-Africa policy as it stands is the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), by which the US decided to incentivize African countries to open their markets and partake in global trade, by offering to eliminate import duties on over 6,400 products exported from 38 eligible Sub-Saharan countries, including all 15 West African nations. Indeed, US President Barack Obama had vowed, in a 2013 press conference in Senegal, that the AGOA programme would be “renewed and improved”. The programme indeed stands to be greatly improved. For one, the yearly renewal of AGOA appears to present some difficulties for investors in terms of investment planning and diverting resources to AGOA-compliant exports. As such, a number of African ambassadors to the US drafted a proposal suggesting AGOA be renewed for 15 years. As displayed in the table below, which details the yearly exports from AGOA beneficiary countries to the US over the past 10 years, few countries appear to have benefited from the preferential access, with Nigeria and, to a lesser extent, Côte d’Ivoire, far ahead.
|Oil and Gas||$22,781,896,155||59.80%|
|Primary metal manufacturing||$3,063,465,495||8.00%|
|Petroleum and Coal products||$2,683,498,920||7.00%|
|Miscellaneous manufactured commodities||$1,679,184,263||4.40%|
|Apparel manufacturing products||$921,160,903||2.41%|