U.S. Trade and Investment Relationship with Sub-Saharan Africa: The African Growth and Opportunity Act and Beyond [Updated May 5, 2008] [open pdf - 222KB]
"Following the end of the apartheid era in South Africa in the early 1990s, the United States sought to increase economic relations with sub-Saharan Africa. President Clinton instituted several measures that dealt with investment, debt relief, and trade. Congress required the President to develop a trade and development policy for Africa. The economic challenges facing Africa today are serious. Unlike the period from 1960 to 1973, when economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa was relatively strong, since 1973 the countries of sub-Saharan Africa have grown at rates well below other developing countries. There are some signs of improvement, but problems such as HIV/AIDS and the debt burden are constraining African economic growth. […] In AGOA [African Growth and Opportunity Act], Congress declared that free-trade agreements should be negotiated, where feasible, with interested sub-Saharan African countries. Related to this provision, negotiations on a free-trade agreement with the Southern African Customs Union, which includes South Africa and four other countries, began in June 2003, but were suspended in April 2006. Several topics may be important to the 110th Congress in the oversight of AGOA and in potential legislation amending the act. These issues concern expanding the number of beneficiary countries which use AGOA benefits; diversifying AGOA exports away from primary commodities such as oil; making trade capacity building more effective for AGOA beneficiaries; and strengthening the link between poverty reduction and trade in Africa. This product will be updated periodically."
CRS Report for Congress, RL31772