African manufacturing capabilities are set to be showcased as the AGOA forum convenes in South Africa to strengthen US trade ties

Around 400 exhibitors from across Sub-Saharan Africa will demonstrate African service and manufacturing capabilities.

This will take place alongside the 20th US-Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (AGOA Forum), scheduled for November 2 to 4, 2023, in Johannesburg, under the theme "Partnering to Build a Resilient, Sustainable, and Inclusive AGOA to Support Economic Development, Industrialization, and Quality Job Creation."

The AGOA Forum will unite the governments of the United States and AGOA-eligible countries, in addition to representatives from key regional economic organizations and the private sector. Its agenda is to strengthen trade and investment ties between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. The Forum will also include a "Made in Africa Exhibition," highlighting regional value chains and celebrating the best of African innovation, entrepreneurship, and craftsmanship.

South Africa's Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, will host a senior delegation from the United States, led by Ambassador Katherine Tai, along with high-level delegations from various countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The discussions will focus on boosting trade, fostering African industrialization, and strengthening the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Since its inception in 2000, AGOA has been at the core of United States economic policy and commercial engagement with Africa. It provides eligible sub-Saharan African countries with duty-free access to the US market for specific products. Over 6,000 tariff items are eligible for AGOA benefits, and trade between the US and the 49 sub-Saharan African countries, along with AGOA imports from eligible sub-Saharan African countries, has exceeded nearly $45 billion between 2001 and 2021.

For African businesses, the "Made in Africa" exhibition offers a unique opportunity to discover new business partners, research novel products and services, and network with thousands of delegates from the United States and AGOA countries. Visitors to the Forum exhibition area will have the opportunity to participate in a business matchmaking program, enabling them to meet with over 400 exhibitors from sub-Saharan African countries, spanning various sectors including agriculture and agro-processing, automotive, boat building, capital equipment, mining and machinery, chemicals, clothing and textiles, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, renewable energy (green hydrogen), aerospace and defence, arts and crafts, jewellery, ICT, metals, steel, and aluminium, financial and infrastructure services, high-tech innovations, furniture, wood, pulp, and tourism.

Ambassador Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter, Deputy Director General at the Trade branch of the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (the dtic), describes the "Made in Africa" exhibition as a prestigious event that celebrates and showcases Africa's productive capabilities across various sectors.

"It provides a platform for deal-making between African and US procurers, aiming to boost trade and investments. This event offers an extraordinary platform to showcase African excellence and explore the vast potential of this dynamic continent. It attracts a diverse range of visitors, including buyers, importers, procurement professionals, investors, government and trade officials, business owners, entrepreneurs, and a VIP hosted buyer delegation from the USA."

One of the highlights of the showcase will be a "Cultural Heritage" program and "African Fashion International," a platform for showcasing African fashion design excellence.

Mlumbi-Peter adds, "The AGOA 2023 Cultural Heritage program will showcase Africa's rich cultural heritage and the modern creative industry that Africa has to offer. African artists, filmmakers, fashion designers, animators, and, to a limited extent, musicians, have traditionally been underrepresented internationally. This highly interactive exhibition will facilitate meetings with financiers and investors, B2B matchmaking, and a pan-African - US networking platform for businesses in the creative industries."

Another highlight will be a pavilion featuring automotive and auto component manufacturers, demonstrating the regional value chains that exist among African eligible countries, contributing to the enhancement of intra-Africa trade and investment.

Ambassador Mlumbi-Peter emphasizes that the entire exhibition and program have been meticulously designed to provide delegates and visitors with a world-class exhibition experience. The aim is for them to leave with a renewed passion and purpose for the development of trade between the AGOA countries.

The AGOA Forum is scheduled to take place at the Johannesburg Expo Centre from November 2 to 4, 2023. The event is supported by leading sponsors, including Platinum sponsor Standard Bank, Sasol, Aspen, Pepsico South Africa, Google, Vodacom, Sibanye Stillwater, BMW, Ford, Amazon, Coca Cola, MTN and Heineken.

Entrance to the AGOA Forum's "Made in Africa Exhibition" is free. For more information and to register your attendance, please visit the event's official website.