Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Lisa Johnson at the AGOA Public Launch

U.S. Ambassador Lisa Johnson giving remarks at the AGOA Public launch.

One of my top priorities as U.S. Ambassador is to increase U.S.-Namibia trade and investment in order to create prosperity for both our countries. Since 2000, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, known as AGOA has served as the cornerstone of U.S. economic engagement with Africa.

AGOA has helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs and economic opportunities across the continent. However, Namibia historically has not capitalized on the advantages that AGOA provides. To help Namibia take greater advantage of AGOA duty-free preferences, the Embassy provided a grant to IPPR to carry out an AGOA utilization study.

The goal of this study was to analyze Namibia’s trade patterns regarding AGOA eligible exports and to identify export sectors that Namibia can potentially use to take advantage of AGOA benefits. I would like to see as many Namibian companies as possible benefit from AGOA.

I also want to assure you of the continuing United States commitment to AGOA, which was legislated by the U.S. Congress in 2000 and has been extended twice, currently to the year 2025. In fact, the White House’s Africa Strategy explicitly states:  The President will use the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to promote deeper trade ties and fair trade with sub-Saharan African states.

Thus, supporting AGOA continues to be an important way that we encourage trade between Africa and the United States.  There are other ways we support this trade as well, such as Prosper Africa and the BUILD Act, which I have spoken about publicly previously.

The U.S. Embassy is a resource for Namibians who want to take advantage of AGOA.  Specifically, the Embassy’s Commercial Office and I, as the Ambassador, are available to consult with Namibian businesses who would like to better understand how to use AGOA.

Our regional USAID program also has resources that can help potential businesses take advantage of AGOA, through USAID’s Trade and Investment Hub, based in South Africa. There has been discussion of Namibia developing an AGOA Implementation Strategy.  I think this is an excellent idea, and I strongly encourage it.  The U.S. Embassy, working with our USAID Trade Hub would be happy to help develop such a strategy.

I believe AGOA creates tremendous business opportunities for Namibian businesses, both to build their export capacity – the United States is the world’s largest consumer market with a purchasing power of $13 trillion – and for market diversification.  We are here today to take a look at what those opportunities are.

The trade preferences AGOA gives Namibian companies can be used to make real profit and to create new trade relationships.  We want those trade relationships to help form the foundation of the future of commercial relationship between the United States and Namibia.

In conclusion, I want to extend my thanks to Graham Hopwood and to Klaus Schade, the author of this report.  I look forward to hearing from Klaus how we can together strengthen our Namibia-U.S. trade ties through AGOA.