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Does the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) impact EU-15 imports from Africa?

Aruneema Mahabir, Jingwen Fan and Robert Mullings

Journal of Economic Studies, 2020, vol. 47, issue 5, 1155-1180

Abstract: Purpose - At the heart of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) are substantial trade preferences, which coupled with the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) grant a wide range of goods produced in qualified African countries duty-free access to the USA. To be AGOA-eligible, countries are assessed annually on their progress in undertaking appropriate economic, institutional and human rights reforms. This paper seeks to cover new grounds by exploring whether exports of apparel to US crowds out EU-15's imports from Africa. Design/methodology/approach - This paper employs the gravity model to gauge trade displacement effects from the EU to the US due to AGOA, and whether the more relaxed special waiver embodied in AGOA's apparel provision causes non-knitted exports to EU-15 to be crowded out. The basic gravity model, which posits that trade between two countries is positively influenced by the economic size and negatively affected by the distance between them, is augmented with other trade inhibiting and trade facilitating variables. Findings - The gravity model provides no evidence of trade displacement but, instead, provides support for the hypothesis of complementarity of African exports to the two key markets. A strong positive impact of the bilateral trade between the US and Africa on the EU–African trade is evident mainly before the phasing out of the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC). This paper finds that Special Rule beneficiaries' exports to the two markets still complement each other, but for every percentage increase in exports to the USA, there is a less than proportionate increase in exports to EU-15 indicating a higher utilisation of the special waiver. This paper also provides evidence for complementary apparel exports to both LDCs (least developing countries) and non-LDCs, with stronger effects on non-LDCs and the non-knitted sector. Research limitations/implications - Future work could consider the longer lifespan of AGOA following its latest renewal in 2015. This would allow one to also capture the ongoing changes in EU trade arrangements in particular implementation of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). This new agreement comes with more flexible rules of origin requiring single transformation step instead of the double step. As most African nations are still in the process of adopting EPAs, new research can shed more light on complementary or displacement effects once these agreements are adopted. Originality/value - Since the main intent of AGOA is to enhance Africa's integration into the global economy by encouraging trade and investment, generate employment and increase productivity and per capita income growth, its impact on Special Rule beneficiaries' exports to the US has been extensively examined. However, the indirect effects of this trade agreement on African exports to other key markets providing similar preferences such as the EU has not been fully explored. This study also covers new grounds by examining whether there has been any apparel trade displacement from the EU to the US, as a result of the Act, over 2001–2016 period right from AGOA's inception.

Keywords: AGOA; EU-15; Apparel sector; Gravity model; F13; F140 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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