Africa: Remarks by Coordinator British Robinson at AGOA – Not Just Another Renewal

Good morning excellencies, colleagues, business leaders and members of civil society all protocols observed. I am British Robinson, the Coordinator of Prosper Africa, a U.S. presidential-national security initiative to scale trade and investment between the United States and Africa.
Prosper Africa takes a whole-of U.S. Government approach to reaching scale in order to strengthen our economic and strategic partnerships with the continent.

I am so pleased to be part of the 2023 AGOA Forum. There could not be a more critical time in the history of AGOA and its continued importance to US and African strategic objectives.

AGOA is NOT just a piece of legislation. Let’s take a step back and talk about what AGOA implementation really means…

Just yesterday, I had the privilege of touring our Prosper Africa partner Rugani Juice factory, a South African company that is fast becoming a household name in the U.S. for carrot juice.

There, I witnessed first-hand catalytic, 2-way trade and investment. Where our support gave Rugani Juice the opportunity to prepare for entry into the US market, to attend the fancy food trade show in the US, then to meet a vetted US distributor and sign a supply agreement worth a half a million dollars.
I asked Wesley Browne, the General Manager of Rugani “what was the reason for their success”, and his exact response was:  “AGOA and Trade Promotion.  Trade promotion without AGOA doesn’t work, and AGOA without trade promotion doesn’t work.”

But it doesn’t stop there.  This single AGOA supported project created an entire trade ecosystem in Gauteng province.

This box of carrot juice represents an entire AGOA value chain, ecosystem and supply chain. Each juice box represents a supply of locally grown vegetables from neighboring farms, 250 processing jobs—mostly women—that pay twice the minimum wage…AND, access initially to regional markets in neighboring countries, that then led to their entry into a lucrative US market.

As a result, this demonstrated to the world that Rugani Juice could export anywhere! In Rugani’s case, they were able to access markets in Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan….AND as it turns out, the buyer in Japan is Costco! It’s actually a US export with African supply… Let’s let that sink in for a minute.

Today, with Prosper Africa, Rugani trains other African companies how to utilize AGOA and, through Prosper Africa, is investing in new packaging equipment that will now launch them from paper to glass bottle exports….meeting the U.S. market demand.

The success story of Rugani is why AGOA exists….it’s ONE example of how AGOA can and should work. Prosper Africa exists to replicate and scale this 2-way trade and investment approach throughout the Continent.

AGOA is essential to 2-way trade, 2-way growth, 2-way prosperity. It is a critical tool to link our markets in ways that advance mutual strategic goals- diversifying global supply chains, increasing Africa’s local capacity, and advancing shared objectives.

AGOA remains a critical job creator—BOTH in the U.S. and in Africa, as I just mentioned.

In order to support the success of AGOA, we focus on both supply and demand.

On the supply side: We grow and capacitate African suppliers that are matched with qualified U.S. buyers – ensuring off-take of duty free goods – through grants, investment facilitation, aggregation and other trade services.

On the demand side: We grow the number and market share of U.S. buyers looking to source competitive products in Africa.  This is increasingly important as the world faces supply shortages from conflict, pandemics and capacity gaps.

This means creating greater awareness of AGOA.

Currently, we have 819 deals in the Prosper Africa supply pipeline, valued at $1.2 Billion dollars, of which the majority are in the agriculture and apparel sectors, as well as the critical minerals sector representing 8% of this pipeline and growing…

We know that Africa is poised for exponential growth and AGOA is part of that story. And, America wants to be a part of that story and that’s why Prosper Africa exists.

We believe we should all PROSPER — America and Africa –TOGETHER.

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