AGOA

  • African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA)

    IThe African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) was enacted in May 2000 to expand U.S. trade with Sub-Saharan Africa and stimulate the economies of the participating countries. Each year, the President of the United States is eligible to determine the countries eligible for AGOA benefits, which include trade preferences that essentially allow goods produced in the eligible countries to enter the United States duty-free.  There are currently 40 countries eligible for AGOA benefits. The three most recently eligible countries are Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Niger, all of which held democratic elections.

    The AGOA program has brought significant benefits to the participating countries, but it is scheduled to expire very soon in September 2015. The program includes a “third-country fabric benefit,” which allows apparel producers in AGOA-eligible countries to use third-country fabric and still get duty-free treatment in the United States. The benefit was initially scheduled to expire on September 30, 2012, two years before the expiration of the program. On August 2, 2012, Congress passed legislation renewing the benefit until September 2015, when the program expires. The legislation also adds South Sudan as a beneficiary country under AGOA. More information on the legislation is available from the House Ways & Means Committee here.

    President Obama signed the legislation on Friday, August 10, 2012. The AGOA extension and the Burma sanctions extension are effective immediately. The CAFTA-DR fixes will go into effect 60 days after the publication of the Presidential Proclamation and the notification of the Organization of American States (OAS), on or around October 15, 2012.

    USFIA Position

    The United States Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel (USA-ITA), now USFIA, was an active voice in the effort to renew the AGOA third-country fabric benefit. 

    On March 9, 2012, USA-ITA (now USFIA) joined a group of apparel and retail associations in sending a letter to the leadership of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee calling for the renewal of the Third-Country Fabric Provision of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA). The letter explains that the provision “helps U.S retailers achieve lower costs and diversify their supply chains,” as well as “solidifies a broader strategic partnership with the United States based on development through trade.” 

    On June 13, 2012, USA-ITA (now USFIA) joined a multi-industry group of trade associations and other business organizations in sending a letter to the leadership of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and U.S. House Ways & Means Committee again calling for quick renewal of the Third-Country Fabric Provision of AGOA, along with passing the CAFTA "fixes." The letter identifies consequences of not renewing AGOA: 

    Moreover, the impact is by no means limited to sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, the delay in renewing this non-controversial measure, which is at the core of the AGOA apparel provisions, has already forced many U.S. companies to shift their 3rd and 4th quarter 2012 orders to other countries to avoid uncertainties. 

    The delay in renewing this provision is increasingly sending the wrong message to African countries on the eve of the largest annual U.S.-Africa summit — the AGOA Forum, which will be held in Washington on June 14-15. Inaction is difficult to justify given that the Third Country Fabric provision has proven beneficial to U.S. businesses and non-controversial in both Congress and in the U.S. business community.

    Regardless, as uncertainty grows over renewal, African apparel producing countries have already experienced a 30% drop in apparel orders since January 2012. This decline in orders has already led to the loss of thousands of jobs in Africa, with hundreds of thousands more hanging in the balance.

    On July 25, 2012, USA-ITA (now USFIA) also sent letters to U.S. Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), urging them to drop their holds on the AGOA extension. 

  • Apparel: Act Now on AGOA, Says USFIA

    By Julia K. Hughes

    At a time when Congress seemingly can't agree on anything, AGOA is a non-controversial program with nearly universal support as one that's good for business in the U.S. and good for economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately the clock has been ticking for the program, which is scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, 2015, but Rep. Nunes' statement and the scheduling of the long-awaited hearings are signs it finally could be renewed.

    But while there's still one year left, time has all but run out before the fashion industry will slow down orders in advance of the scheduled expiration, so let's hope it's renewed quickly.

    Click here to read the entire article on the Apparel website.

  • Ask the Experts: Clarification on AGOA

    Do you have a question for our staff or counsel? We’re here to answer questions both general and specific about trade policy, customs procedures, or sourcing opportunities! Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and one of our experts will get back to you! This week, get some clarification on the status of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). USFIA members should log in to read more.

  • California Apparel News: Africa Could Be the Next Frontier with AGOA

    By Deborah Belgum

    [PVH's Bill] McRaith, who has been working in apparel sourcing for decades, was speaking on a panel organized by the United States Fashion Industry Association on Aug. 17 at theSourcing at MAGIC show in Las Vegas. The topic was “Looking Forward: From the Western Hemisphere to Africa: Pros and Cons.”

    Julie Hughes, the fashion association’s president, pointed out that even though China is becoming more expensive, it still provided for 41 percent of all imported apparel into the United States, 35 percent of textiles, 18 percent of yarns and 67 percent of made-ups, which include sheets, towels, bedspreads, aprons and other home-related items. But apparel companies are looking for other sourcing venues as prices and wages rise in China.

    Click here to read the entire article on the California Apparel News website.

  • just-style: AGOA benefits hard to determine

    By Leonie Barrie

    Indeed, writing on just-style earlier this year, Julia Hughes, president, United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA), pointed out that most brands and retailers are making their sourcing plans at least nine months to two years in advance, which is well past the AGOA expiration date.

    "I've heard from a few small and medium-sized companies that they have already started to pull out of AGOA factories. This is incredibly unfortunate, because many of those factories were just getting back on their feet after we went through the last-minute AGOA renewal in 2012," she said.

    Click here to read the entire article on the just-style website.

  • just-style: AGOA delays drag on sourcing decisions

    By Leonie Barrie

    Groups representing apparel and footwear manufacturers, brands, and retailers in the US and Africa are urging quick renewal of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA)--warning that delays in its passage are dragging on sourcing decisions. 

    The calls come after the US Senate last week voted overwhelmingly by 97 to 1 to approve a bill to extend and update AGOA for ten years, simplify the rules of origin, add notification and reporting requirements, and improve transparency and participation in the AGOA review process.

    Click here to read the entire article on the just-style website.

  • Knitting Industry: AGOA renewal boosts hopes for US-Africa textiles trade

    By Jana Bukolovska

    The United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) has recently praised the decision by the US Senate to pass the Trade Preferences Extension Act 2015. The legislation renews the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the Generalized System of Preferences, and trade preference programmes with Haiti.

    Last year, USFIA joined six US and African fashion and retail trade organisations in a call for immediate renewal of the AGOA. Julia K. Hughes, President of USFIA, explained: “AGOA not only allows US companies to produce quality, affordable apparel for their customers, but also provides much-needed jobs and economic opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa.”

    In its recent benchmarking study of 30 leading brands, retailers, importers, and wholesalers, the association found an urgent need to renew these trade preference programmes quickly and for a long term. In the study, 48% of respondents support long-term renewal of AGOA. In addition, 26% said they expect to source more from the AGOA region if the programme is renewed for a longer term.

    Click here to read the entire article on the Knitting Industry website.

  • Knitting Industry: US fashion industry joins African companies in call to renew AGOA

    The United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) joined six US and African fashion and retail trade organisations in a call for immediate renewal of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA), which is scheduled to expire on 30 September 2015.

    Click here to read the entire article on the Knitting Industry website.

  • Sourcing Journal: USFIA Joins U.S. & African Companies in Call for Immediate Renewal of AGOA

    The United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) joined six U.S. and African fashion and retail trade organizations in a call for immediate renewal of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA), which is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2015.

    Click here to read the entire article on the Sourcing Journal website.

  • The National Law Review: Business Summit Focuses On Renewal of Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)

    The United States textile and apparel industry has also benefitted from AGOA. In a statement made by the President of the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA), Julia K. Hughes, in conjunction with certain other six US and African industry and retail trade organizations, AGOA has also allowed US companies to produce quality, affordable apparel for their customers. Hughes noted that “without the duty-free treatment, sourcing apparel from the (AGOA) region is cost-prohibitive for many fashion brands and retailers, and since they plan their sourcing six to twelve months in advance, many are already considering leaving the region altogether.”

    Click here to read the entire article on the National Law Review website.

  • U.S. & African Fashion & Retail Companies Call for Immediate Renewal of AGOA

    Washington, D.C. – On May 18, 2015, seven fashion and retail trade organizations in the United States and Africa, including the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA), called for immediate renewal of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA), which is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2015.

    The organizations also called for long-term renewal of the program for at least 10 years—including the third-country fabric provision—and extension of the third-country fabric provision to all AGOA beneficiaries. The statement is available online.

    “AGOA not only allows U.S. companies to produce quality, affordable apparel for their customers, but also provides much-needed jobs and economic opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa,” says Julia K. Hughes, President of USFIA.

    “However, those opportunities are at stake as the expiration date looms,” she adds. “Our members have told us that they want to continue sourcing from the AGOA region, and even place more orders. But without duty-free treatment, sourcing apparel from the region is cost-prohibitive. Since companies plan their sourcing at least 6-12 months in advance, many companies are planning their final orders from the AGOA region, or have already left, because they cannot afford the cost increase that would result if AGOA is not renewed in time.”

    “We are grateful that the U.S. Senate approved AGOA, and we hope the U.S. House will quickly follow suit so companies can continue to place orders in the region and make plans for future investment over the next 10 years,” Hughes concluded.

    In addition to USFIA, the signatories of the statement include the African Cotton and Textile Industries Federation (ACTIF), the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), the National Retail Federation (NRF), the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), and the Retail Industry Leaders of America (RILA).

    For more information, contact Samantha Sault, USFIA Vice President of Communications, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 202-419-0474.

    About the United States Fashion Industry Association

    The United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) represents the fashion industry: textile and apparel brands, retailers, importers, and wholesalers based in the United States and doing business globally. Founded in 1989 as the United States Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel with the goal of eliminating the global apparel quota system, USFIA now works to eliminate the tariff and non-tariff barriers that impede the industry’s ability to trade freely and create economic opportunities in the United States and abroad. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., USFIA is the most respected voice for the fashion industry in front of the U.S. government as well as international governments and stakeholders.  With constant, two-way communication, USFIA staff and counsel serve as the eyes and ears of our members in Washington and around the world, enabling them to stay ahead of the regulatory challenges of today and tomorrow. Through our publications, educational events, and networking opportunities, USFIA also connects with key stakeholders across the value chain including U.S. and international service providers, suppliers, and industry groups.

  • U.S. and African Companies Call for Immediate Renewal of AGOA

    USA-ITA joins with several other industry groups, including the ACTIF (African Cotton and Textile Industries Federation), in asking U.S. Congress to take action as soon as possible to renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). AGOA is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2015. In 2012, Congress waited to renew AGOA until the last minute, creating uncertainty that forced some companies to cut back on orders.  The coalition hopes that this time the Congress will act early and extend the duty-free benefits for a longer time.  The groups ask for the following:  

    1.       Immediate Renewal of AGOA.  
    2.       Long-term Renewal of AGOA, at least fifteen years.  
    3.       Extend Third Country Fabric benefits for the same length of time as full AGOA extension.  
    4.       Grant Third Country Fabric Benefits to All AGOA beneficiaries

    To read the full statement, click here.

  • U.S. Fashion Industry Association Joins U.S. & African Companies in Call for Immediate Renewal of AGOA

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             

    August 13, 2014

    Contact: Samantha Sault, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 202-419-0474

    Washington, D.C. – The United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) joined six U.S. and African fashion and retail trade organizations in a call for immediate renewal of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA), which is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2015.

    The organizations also called for long-term renewal of the program for at least 15 years—including the third-country fabric provision—and extension of the third-country fabric provision to all AGOA beneficiaries. The statement is online.

    “AGOA not only allows U.S. companies to produce quality, affordable apparel for their customers, but also provides much-needed jobs and economic opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa,” says Julia K. Hughes, President of USFIA.

    “However, those opportunities are at stake as the expiration date looms,” she adds. “In our recent benchmarking study, fashion executives told us that they want to continue sourcing from the AGOA region, and even place more orders. But without duty-free treatment, sourcing apparel from the region is cost-prohibitive for many fashion brands and retailers, and since they plan their sourcing six to twelve months in advance, many are already considering leaving the region altogether.”

    “We hope that the discussions at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit last week, as well as the recent Congressional hearings, will lead to quick, long-term renewal of this important trade preference program so fashion brands and retailers can continue placing orders and expand their business in the AGOA region,” Hughes concludes.

    In addition to USFIA, the signatories of the statement include the African Cotton and Textile Industries Federation (ACTIF), the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), the National Retail Federation (NRF), the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), and the Retail Industry Leaders of America (RILA).

    For more information, contact Samantha Sault, USFIA Vice President of Communications, atThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 202-419-0474

    About the United States Fashion Industry Association

    The United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) represents the fashion industry: textile and apparel brands, retailers, importers, and wholesalers based in the United States and doing business globally. Founded in 1989 as the United States Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel with the goal of eliminating the global apparel quota system, USFIA now works to eliminate the tariff and non-tariff barriers that impede the industry’s ability to trade freely and create economic opportunities in the United States and abroad. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., USFIA is the most respected voice for the fashion industry in front of the U.S. government as well as international governments and stakeholders.  With constant, two-way communication, USFIA staff and counsel serve as the eyes and ears of our members in Washington and around the world, enabling them to stay ahead of the regulatory challenges of today and tomorrow. Through our publications, educational events, and networking opportunities, USFIA also connects with key stakeholders across the value chain including U.S. and international service providers, suppliers, and industry groups.

  • USA-ITA Applauds Renewal of AGOA Third-Country Fabric Provision; Legislation Also Enacts Critical Technical Fixes to CAFTA-DR

    For Immediate Release

    Contact: Samantha Sault, Director of Communications, 202-419-0474 orThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    WASHINGTON – The United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA) applauds the United States Congress for passing legislation today to renew the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) third-country fabric benefit and enact the technical “fixes” to the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) textile and apparel rules of origin. 

    “U.S. apparel brands and retailers are thrilled that Congress has finally renewed the AGOA third-country fabric benefit and enacted the CAFTA-DR technical fixes,” says Julia K. Hughes, President of USA-ITA. “These two provisions will help create and maintain jobs in the apparel industry both in the United States, as well as in our trading partner countries, especially in Africa,” she adds. 

    The AGOA third-country fabric benefit, which allows AGOA-eligible apparel manufacturers to use third-country fabric not commercially available in AGOA countries and still get duty-free treatment in the United States, accounts for over 95 percent of apparel trade under AGOA. This apparel trade not only creates critical jobs in Africa, but also allows U.S. apparel brands and retailers to create critical jobs at home in areas such as design, logistics, sourcing, merchandising, marketing, and retail, to name a few.

    The CAFTA-DR “fixes” are non-controversial technical corrections and modifications to the textile and apparel rules of origin, and include clarifications on duty-free eligibility for certain types of thread, fabric, and apparel, as well as increases in the cumulation levels.

    “The AGOA third-country fabric benefit and the CAFTA-DR fixes will not only help U.S. brands and retailers create needed jobs at home, but will also better enable these companies to provide high-quality, yet affordable, apparel to American families,” concludes Hughes.

    ###

    The United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA) was established in January 1989 by nine companies with a vision to create a unified voice for textile and apparel importers across the country.   USA-ITA provides education, information, and advocacy to executives active in textile and apparel sourcing, importing, compliance, and logistics. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., USA-ITA represents the needs of American retailers, brands and importers, as well as related service providers, with the objective to remove barriers to business and to trade.

  • USA-ITA Attends AGOA Breakfast on Capitol Hill

    On August 1, 2013, USA-ITA (now the United States Fashion Industry Association) attended a breakfast on Capitol Hill hosted by House Africa Subcommittee Ranking Member Karen Bass (D-CA). The breakfast featured discussions on President Obama’s recent trip to Africa and what to expect from the upcoming AGOA forum, as well as the AGOA Ambassadors’ report. Of particular note, U.S. Trade Representative for Africa Florie Liser, who has spoken at USA-ITA events in the past, welcomed the views of all AGOA stakeholders and discussed the importance of apparel and footwear in particular. She said the Administration recognizes the need for seamless renewal, adding that she has heard from buyers that the industry needs expedited renewal and certainty in order to continue sourcing from the AGOA region. Additional speakers included Grant T. Harris, Special Assistant to the President & Senior Director for African Affairs at the White House; Stephanie Peters, Director of Federal Government Affairs for Microsoft; and the Ambassadors of Nigeria and Mauritius. All speakers, as well as attending Members of Congress including Charlie Rangel (D-NY), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), stressed the importance of quick renewal of AGOA and continued support of our trading partners in Africa. 

  • USFIA Calls for Immediate Renewal of AGOA

    The African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) plays a vital role in the development and support of a competitive U.S.-African textile and apparel trade partnership, a critical step to developing a broader reciprocal commercial relationship with AGOA countries. AGOA has created more than 300,000 direct jobs in Africa, and AGOA imports are important for the millions of American workers in apparel retailing, manufacturing, and importing companies.

    Originally enacted in 2000, AGOA has enjoyed widespread, bipartisan support and has been modified and extended several times. It is currently authorized through September 2015. We urge Congress to renew it as soon as possible.

    Representing textile and apparel brands, retailers, importers, and wholesalers based in the United States and doing business globally, we urge the following:

    1. Immediate renewal. AGOA must be renewed as soon as possible. Because apparel sourcing decisions are made many months in advance, renewal needs to occur soon--and definitely before the end of 2014--for it to be truly seamless. Any delay into 2015, especially in light of the last-minute renewal of the third-country fabric provision in 2012, will discourage continued sourcing and new investment, resulting in the loss of trade and jobs in both Africa and the United States.

    2. Long-term renewal. AGOA should be renewed for a long enough period--at least 15 years--to ensure the predictability necessary to support trade and investment decisions. Shorter term renewals will not provide enough certainty to enable the industry to make capital intensive investment decisions necessary to attract textile investments or affect long-term sourcing partnership decisions.

    3. Long-term third-country fabric renewal. The third-country fabric provision should be renewed for the full duration of the AGOA renewal. This provision is central to the program. Renewing it for a shorter duration than the full program would be tantamount to renewing the entire program for that shorter duration. Moreover, further vertical integration into upstream textile production requires maintenance of a healthy downstream apparel sector, which in turn is dependent upon the third-country fabric provision.

    4. Third-country fabric extended to all AGOA beneficiaries. All AGOA beneficiary countries should be able to use the third-country fabric provision. Unequal application of this provision lessens the positive impact of AGOA and retards regional integration efforts.

    The United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) is committed to working with other stakeholders to achieve these objectives to support African trade and development as well as the U.S. jobs that depend on the trade partnership.

    For more information on USFIA's position on AGOA and our advocacy work, click here.

    For our recent op-ed in Apparel Magazine on the need to renew AGOA immediately, click here.

  • USFIA Calls for Immediate Renewal of AGOA

    On July 31, 2014, the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) posted a statement calling for the immediate, long-term renewal of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA), as well as long-term renewal of the third-country fabric provision and extension of the third-country fabric provision to all AGOA beneficiaries. The statement is available here.

  • USFIA Contributes to USITC Report on AGOA

    The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) has released a report titled, “AGOA: Trade and Investment Performance Overview.” The report describes, reviews, and analyzes the trade and investment performance of African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) beneficiary countries from 2000 to 2013. Of particular note, “The report’s findings suggest that AGOA’s impact on foreign direct investment (FDI) has been strongest in the apparel industry. Overall, the program’s trade benefits and eligibility criteria appear to have motivated AGOA beneficiary countries to improve their business and investment climates. AGOA has had a positive impact on FDI inflows, particularly in the textile and apparel sector in Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Swaziland, and Botswana, and also in South Africa’s automotive industry. Some studies, however, suggest that reciprocal trade agreements may have certain advantages over unilateral trade preference programs such as AGOA.”

    USFIA contributed information to the report (page 322):

    In a written submission, Julia Hughes, President, United States Fashion Industry Association

    (USFIA), said that USFIA represents textile and apparel brands, retailers, importers, and wholesalers based in the United States. She indicated that she would concentrate on two of the investigations, Nos. 332-542, AGOA: Trade and Investment Performance Review, and 332-545, U.S. AGOA Rules of Origin: Possible Changes to Promote Regional Integration and Promote Exports to the United States. USFIA member companies, according to Ms. Hughes, continue to source from textile and apparel producers in SSA. Ms. Hughes noted that these companies want to maintain partnerships on the African continent and she made the following recommendations: (1) AGOA should be renewed on a seamless basis as soon as possible and no later than 2014; (2) AGOA should be reauthorized for a 15-year period; (3) the third-country fabric provision should be renewed for the full duration of the AGOA renewal; (4) all AGOA beneficiary countries should benefit from AGOA’s third-country fabric provision; and (5) trade capacity building programs should be expanded.

  • USFIA Files Comments on AGOA Eligibility Review

    On September 2, 2016, the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) and other apparel and retail associations filed comments on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) eligibility review. We said that we support the renewal of AGOA benefits for all countries that are currently eligible for benefits. Our statement is available here

  • USFIA Files Comments to USITC on AGOA

    On January 21, 2014, the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) filed comments with the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) for their investigation on trade and investment performance as well as possible changes to the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA). In our comments, drafted with assistance from USFIA Washington Counsel David Spooner with Squire Sanders, we recommend prompt and long-term renewal; long-term renewal and expansion of the Third-Country Fabric provision; and expanded trade capacity-building programs.