In both Africa and the United States, there is growing
consensus that open trade and increased international investment are critical
to spurring economic development and reducing poverty in Africa.
Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was signed into law on May 18, 2000
as Title 1 of The Trade and Development Act of 2000. The Act offers tangible
incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their
economies and build free markets. It significantly enhances market
access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. Qualification
for AGOA preferences is based on a set of conditions contained in the AGOA
legislation. In order to qualify and remain eligible for AGOA, each country
must be working to improve its rule of law, human rights, and respect for
core labor standards.
President Obama, before his recent visit to Kenya and
Ethiopia, said, "AGOA will be central to our efforts to boost the trade
and investment that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs both in Africa
and the United States, creating opportunities for all of us."
The International Trade Administration (ITA) strengthens
the competitiveness of U.S. industry, promotes trade and investment, and
ensures fair trade through the rigorous enforcement of our trade laws and
agreements. ITA works to improve the global business environment and
helps U.S. organizations compete at home and abroad. ITA supports
President Obama’s recovery agenda and the National Export Initiative to
sustain economic growth and support American jobs.
The following information was on the AGOA website as of
August 31, 2015. Please visit
the official government website for the most recent information. Below
is for historical reference regarding how AGOA pertains to the apparel industry.
Qualifying Textile and Apparel Articles
The Africa Investment Incentive Act of 2006
(signed by President Bush on December 20, 2006) amends the textile and apparel
portions of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and is referred
to as "AGOA IV".
AGOA IV provides duty-free and quota-free treatment
for eligible apparel articles made in qualifying sub-Saharan African countries
through 2015. Qualifying articles include:
·Apparel made of U.S. yarns
·Apparel made of sub-Saharan
African (regional) yarns and fabrics, subject to a cap until 2015;
·Apparel made in a designated
lesser developed country of third-country yarns and fabrics, subject to
a cap until 2012;
·Apparel made of yarns
and fabrics not produced in commercial quantities in the United States;
·Certain cashmere and merino
·Eligible handloomed, handmade,
or folklore articles and ethnic printed fabrics; and
·Textiles and textile articles
produced entirely in a lesser-developed beneficiary country.
Special Rule for Apparel Applying to Lesser
Developed AGOA Countries
Until September 30, 2012, lesser-developed
beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries may use non-U.S. fabric and yarn
in apparel wholly assembled in their countries and still qualify for duty-
and quota-free treatment. Exports under the Special Rule are subject to
a cap (see below for details on the cap). Lesser-developed countries are
those with a per capita gross national product of less than $1500 a year
in 1998 as measured by the World Bank. AGOA IV continues to grant lesser-developed
beneficiary country status to Botswana and Namibia, qualifying both countries
for the Special Rule.
Other Textile and Apparel Provisions
The Committee for the Implementation of Textile
Agreements (CITA), an interagency group chaired by the Commerce Department's
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles and Apparel, has the authority to
implement certain provisions of AGOA's textile and apparel benefits. These
·Determination of the annual
cap on imports of apparel that is assembled in beneficiary countries from
fabric formed in beneficiary countries from yarn originating either in the
United States or in beneficiary countries. Through September 30, 2012, the
statute permits lesser-developed beneficiary countries to obtain preferential
treatment for apparel assembled in beneficiary countries regardless of the
origin of the fabric;
·Determination that yarn
or fabric cannot be supplied by the U.S. industry in commercial quantities
in a timely manner, and to extend preferential treatment to eligible apparel
from such yarn or fabric (commercial availability);
Determination of eligible handloomed, handmade,
or folklore articles and ethnic printed fabrics;
·A "tariff snapback" in
the event that a surge in imports of eligible articles causes serious damage
or threat thereof to domestic industry;
·Determination of whether
U.S. manufacturers produce interlinings in the United States in commercial
quantities, thereby rendering articles containing foreign interlinings ineligible
for benefits under AGOA; and
·Determination of whether
exporters have engaged in illegal transshipment and denial of benefits to
such exporters for a period of five years.
AGOA limits imports of apparel made with regional
or third country fabric to a fixed percentage of the aggregate square meter
equivalents (SME) of all apparel articles imported into the United States.
For the year beginning October 1, 2006, the aggregate quantity of imports
eligible for preferential treatment under these provisions is an amount
not to exceed 6.43675 percent of all apparel articles imported into the
United States. Of this overall amount, apparel imported under the Special
Rule for lesser-developed countries is limited to an amount not to exceed
3.5 percent of apparel imported into the United States in the preceding
12-month period. Apparel articles entered in excess of these quantities
will be subject to otherwise applicable tariffs. The duty- free cap is not
allocated among countries. It is filled on a "first-come, first-served"
For the most current data on aggregate imports under the cap, please visit
and click on "AGOA".
AGOA IV provides for special rules for fabrics
or yarns produced in commercial quantities (or "abundant supply") in any
designated sub-Saharan African country for use in qualifying apparel articles.
Upon receiving a petition from any interested party, the International Trade
Commission will determine the quantity of such fabrics or yarns that must
be sourced from the region before applying the third country fabric provision.
It also provides for 30 million square meter equivalents (SMEs) of denim
to be determined to be in abundant supply beginning October 1, 2006. The
U.S. International Trade Commission will provide further guidance on how
it will implement this provision.
Under AGOA, the President
is authorized to proclaim duty-free and quota-free benefits for apparel
that is both cut (or knit-to-shape) and sewn or otherwise assembled in beneficiary
countries from fabric or yarns not formed in the United States or a beneficiary
country, if the President has determined that such yarns or fabrics cannot
be supplied by the domestic industry in commercial quantities in a timely
manner. In Executive Order 13191, the President delegated to the Committee
for the Implementation of Textile Agreements(CITA) authority to determine whether
yarn or fabric cannot be supplied by the domestic industry in commercial
quantities in a timely manner and to extend preferential treatment to apparel
articles from such yarn or fabric.
For details on products that receive duty- free treatment under the AGOA,
and click on "Commercial Availability".
AGOA IV provides for a process to remove designated
fabrics or yarns that were determined not to be available in commercial
quantities in the United States on the basis of fraud.
AGOA provides duty- and quota-free benefits
for handloomed, handmade, folklore articles, or ethnic printed fabrics,
made in beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries. This provision is known
as "Category 9". In Executive Order 13191, the President authorized CITA,
after consultation with the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection,
to consult with beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries and to determine
which, if any, particular textile and apparel goods shall be treated as
being handloomed, handmade, folklore articles or ethnic printed fabrics.
As of August 2009, Botswana, Burkina Faso,
Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia,
Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania
and Zambia have been approved under the hand-loomed and the handmade provisions
of Category 9.
An apparel article is eligible for benefits
even if the article contains findings or trimmings of foreign origin, if
the value of such findings and trimmings does not exceed 25 percent of the
cost of the components of the assembled article. Examples of findings and
trimmings include sewing thread, hooks and eyes, snaps, buttons, "bow buds,"
decorative lace trim, elastic strips, and zippers. Elastic strips are considered
findings or trimmings only if they are each less than 1 inch in width and
used in the production of brassieres.
Articles containing certain interlinings of
foreign origin are eligible for benefits if the value of the interlinings
(and any findings and trimmings) does not exceed 25 percent of the cost
of the components of the assempled article. The interlinings permitted include
only a chest type plate, a "hymo" piece, or "sleeve header," made of woven
or weft-inserted warp knit construction and of coarse animal hair or man-made
filaments. This benefit will terminate if the President determines such
interlinings are made in the United States in commercial quantities.
AGOA III expanded product eligibility to allow
non-AGOA produced collars, cuffs, drawstrings, padding/shoulder pads, waistbands,
belts attached to garments, straps with elastic, and elbow patches for all
import categories to be eligible. This treatment continues under AGOA IV.
De Minimis Rule
Apparel products assembled in sub-Saharan Africa
which would otherwise be considered eligible for AGOA benefits but for the
presence of some fibers or yarns not wholly formed in the United States
or the beneficiary sub-Saharan African country will still be eligible for
benefits as long as the total weight of all such fibers and yarns is not
more than 10 percent of the total weight of the article. AGOA III increased
this percentage from seven percent.
Below is link to the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (USITC) U.S.
Tariff and Import Database for tariff and import data. The ITC has the most
current tariff information for specific products. By following the steps
below, you will be able to determine the import duty for your product and
whether it qualifies for AGOA or other preferential treatment. Please note
that for guidelines on apparel product eligibility go to the
1. Type the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) number
in the SEARCH box on the USITC page linked below. The Harmonized System
Classification is a standardized numerical method of classifying traded
products. This identifying number is assigned to each product and used by
customs officials around the world to determine the duties, taxes and regulations
that apply to the product.
Note you do NOT
need to know the precise
number. Enter either the first part of an HTS category number
up to 8 digits--e.g., "8501" or "850110"--, or any part of a product
description--e.g., "bovine", or "articho"--(without the "quotes"!)
The search is not case-sensitive, so the results for "Bovine" will be the
same as for "BoVinE"
Once you enter this information, the results will likely provide several
product options. Select the specific product and click the "Detail" button.
3. View the U.S. ITC Tariff and most recent U.S. import information.
4. Click on "imports by source country" to view competitor countries
exporting the product to the United States.
5. Scroll down to "preferential" (duty-free or reduced rate) tariff
program applicability to this HTS item, which describes tariff preferences
for the product.
6. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the "begin" button
to start a new search.
The following codes displayed on the ITC Tariff and Import Database are
relevant for AGOA-eligible products. Each code indicates the product may
enter the United States duty-free. If a product is eligible under the
Generalized System of
Preferences (GSP) or Normal Trade Relations (NTR), known formerly
as Most Favored Nations (MFN), it can enter the United States duty-free.
See below for a description of relevant codes for products:
indicating GSP preference
indicating Lesser Developed Beneficiary Country (LBDC) GSP preference
indicating AGOA GSP eligibility
Note that many items that are indicated as
"not eligible" for AGOA are still exempt from import duty if they are indicated
as "eligible" under GSP, or their statutory import duty is zero.
Further inquiries about the AGOA eligibility of a specific product can be
directed to your nearest
U.S. Customs Representative.
U.S. Customs determines AGOA-eligibility and provides importer requirements
for products imported into the United States.
AGOA authorizes the President to provide duty-free treatment under GSP for
any article, after the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the U.S. International
Trade Commission (USITC) have determined that the article is not import
sensitive when imported from African countries. On December 21, 2000, the
President extended dutyfree treatment under GSP to AGOA eligible countries
for more than 1,800 tariff line items in addition to the standard GSP list
of approximately 4,600 items available to non-AGOA GSP beneficiary countries.
The additional GSP line items which include such previously excluded items
as footwear, luggage, handbags, watches, and flatware were implemented after
an extensive process of public comment and review.
AGOA extends GSP for eligible Sub-Saharan African
beneficiaries until September 30, 2015. Sub-Saharan African beneficiary
countries are also exempted from competitive need limitations which cap
the GSP benefits available to beneficiaries in other regions.