The 17th African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum, hosted by the United States for sub-Saharan African countries, took place in Washington, D.C. from July 9 to 12, 2018. The event was titled Forging New Strategies for U.S.–Africa Trade and Investment.
In his statement in the opening plenary on July 11, United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer set out to address “one very specific new strategy—the Trump Administration’s desire to negotiate a model free trade agreement with a sub-Saharan African country.”
The strategy, as Lighthizer outlined, is “based on three core objectives: (1) pursue a bilateral agreement with a willing partner; (2) ensure that this agreement is crafted so that it can serve as a model that can be rolled out to other willing partners in sub-Saharan Africa in the future; and (3) ensure that the model agreement will reinforce regional and continental integration in Africa.”
Lighthizer stated that no final decision has been made about which country or countries the model agreement would be negotiated with, but emphasized: “We are serious and intend to move quickly. I hope to announce exploratory talks soon.”