By Bernadette Paolo
A new National Security Strategy (NSS) for the United States released in February of 2015 includes many references to trade being vital to U.S. security interests. That is why Congress must renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) without further delay.
“The United States is safer and stronger when fewer people face destitution, when our trading partners are flourishing and when societies are free,” reads one reference in the NSS. Given this truth, it is incumbent that the U.S. Congress act swiftly to insure that trade facilitation is a priority, particularly as it pertains to the continent of Africa.
The African continent is fast evolving and widely considered to be the next frontier for economic growth. In many sub-Saharan countries, GDP is expected to rise above five percent in 2015. As Africa flexes its muscle in the global market and demands more equitable business deals, as its population exceeds well over a billion people, and as the oil flows and untapped resources remain, its trading partners are becoming more diverse than ever in its history.
But old and new challenges remain in the face of progress. High levels of poverty combined with a burgeoning youth population, high rates of unemployment, weak infrastructure and health care systems, and a growing terrorist threat are issues knocking at the doors of African leaders.
These are also issues that, if not addressed, can have serious security, political and economic implications for the United States.