On Aug. 4, President Obama welcomed leaders from across the African continent to Washington for a three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. One major topic of discussion, in addition to the political and security issues, will inevitably be how to enhance U.S.-Africa economic relations.
Since 2000, U.S. trade relations with Africa have been dictated by the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). As a unilateral preference scheme of the U.S. to promote trade and investment in Africa, AGOA was meant to boost U.S. trade with Africa and the development of the continent. However, 14 years in, U.S. trade in goods with Africa has demonstrated a perplexing downward trend since 2011. U.S.-Africa trade dwindled from $125 billion in 2011 to $99 billion in 2012 and $85 billion in 2013. For the first five months of 2014, U.S.-Africa trade in goods totaled about $31 billion. At this rate, the total trade volume in 2014 could be well below $80 billion in a continuation of the declining trend.
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