Namibia's AGOA Utilization StrategySince 2000, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been an important part of U.S. foreign and economic policies. It provides incentives for African countries “to open their economies and build free markets.” By promoting commercial ties, the U.S. benefits from trade with African countries that are eligible to participate. Additionally, the African countries also benefit from a growing and more prosperous economy. This enhanced development creates new jobs in underdeveloped countries and helps build a more sustainable economy, aiding in poverty struggles. Namibia, a sub-Saharan African country, is a prime example of the positive development and economic impacts of AGOA. Not only does Namibia implement AGOA with U.S. support, but on May 10, 2021, the country initiated the AGOA Utilization Strategy for tariff-free exports. Namibia’s AGOA Utilization Strategy promises economic growth benefits for the country.

Namibia’s Background

Namibia is a country in Southwest Africa with a population of 2.5 million. The status of poverty in Namibia is not as extreme as in other African countries. Nevertheless, 28.7% of Namibians are impoverished and 15% live in extreme poverty.

While the World Bank classifies Namibia as upper-middle-income, the country still remains a developing country. Namibia has been negatively affected by social and economic imbalances stemming from apartheid, heavy agricultural reliance and structural inequality. Namibia’s Gini coefficient value reflects the immense suffering Namibians face due to socio-economic gaps. Namibia has a Gini coefficient of 0.597, establishing it as “one of the most unequal countries in the world.”

In terms of economic freedom, Namibia boasts a sixth-place ranking out of 47 sub-Saharan African countries with an overall ranking scoring above regional and global averages. While Namibia’s economic success is positive in comparison to other African countries, the country still faces considerable socio-economic disparities and the U.N. still considers Namibia an underdeveloped country. With the introduction of AGOA into African economies, the development and economic growth of participating countries show a hopeful future for Africa.

AGOA Background

Former President Bill Clinton initiated the African Growth and Opportunity Act on May 18, 2000. Clinton initially designated 34 sub-Saharan African countries as eligible for AGOA, allowing for trade benefits between the U.S. and participating African countries. Not only would this law boost participating economies, but it also redefines U.S.-Africa relations. Today, about 40 sub-Saharan African countries are eligible to be AGOA beneficiaries.

Since the start of AGOA implementation, participants’ combined exports increased 500% from $8.15 billion to $53.8 billion between 2001 and 2011. The creation of AGOA through U.S. legislation proves favorable for African economic growth and aims to reduce poverty in the African continent.

Namibia’s AGOA Utilization Strategy

While the implementation of AGOA in Namibia follows the passing of the U.S. legislation in 2000, Namibia only recently decided to make full use of the program. To fully utilize AGOA, U.S. ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, joined minister of industrialization and trade, Lucia Lipumbu, to launch the AGOA Utilization Strategy in Namibia in May 2021.

The new strategy seeks to increase Namibia’s U.S. exports to more than 6,400 tariff-free products. Additionally, the plan addresses policy, supply and market challenges faced in Namibian trade, using public and private sector representatives to execute the AGOA strategy.

Namibia’s AGOA Utilization Strategy expands mutually beneficial trade, improving the economy and fostering alliance between the U.S. and Namibia. The African Growth and Opportunity Act proves helpful in strengthening economies, fostering development and encouraging global networking. Support for African growth and opportunity efforts is mutually beneficial for all those participating in the global market, with the ability to improve living standards in underdeveloped countries.

Kylie Lally
Photo: Flickr

RCEP will benefit Asia's impoverishedOn November 15, 2020, 15 Asia-Pacific countries signed The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The RCEP is a free trade agreement (FTA) establishing new relationships in the global economy. The 15 countries that signed the trade deal account for 30% of all global gross domestic product and impact more than two billion people. The new economic opportunities that will emerge from the RCEP will benefit Asia’s impoverished.

The Introduction of the RCEP

In 2011, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit introduced the RCEP. Simultaneously, another free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was undergoing development. The TPP’s existence failed to come to fruition when former U.S. president, Donald Trump, removed the U.S. from negotiations in 2017. Consequently, this led many Asia-Pacific nations to negotiate with each other to make the RCEP become a reality. The ASEAN Secretariat has declared the RCEP as an accelerator for employment and market opportunities. The RCEP has been seen as a response to the absence of U.S. economic involvement and a form of stimulating the economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

RCEP Regulations

The RCEP has a set of new regulations that made it enticing for many nations to join. As much as 90% of tariffs will be eliminated between participating countries. Moreover, the RCEP will institute common rules for e-commerce and intellectual property. The trade deal will also include high-income, middle-income and low-income nations.

RCEP Benefits for the Philippines

Allan Gepty, a lead negotiator from the Philippines, assures that the RCEP will benefit the low-income country in many ways. The RCEP will mean more investments in sectors such as e-commerce, manufacturing, research and development, financial services and information technology. Moreover, the trade secretary, Ramon Lopez, also believes the Philippines will benefit because the RCEP will bring job opportunities. In a country where the poverty rate stood at 23.3% in 2015, the RCEP will benefit Asia’s impoverished.

Supporting Myanmar’s Economic Growth

According to the World Bank, a way to promote the reduction of poverty in Myanmar is supporting the private sector to create job opportunities. Furthermore, vice president of the Asian Investment Bank (AIIB), Joachim von Amsberg, also believes the RCEP will benefit Asia’s impoverished. He sees the RCEP as a way to grant small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) more access to markets, thus creating more job growth and promoting infrastructure development.

Industries Impacted by the RCEP

Many other nations will benefit from the RCEP as well. Textile and apparel (T&A) is a key sector under the RCEP. While countries such as Australia and Japan have high labor and production costs, many others do not. The RCEP will increase investment to lower-cost and less skilled countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. The trade deal will also impact the country of Vietnam. Vietnam will benefit from its exports which include footwear, automobiles and telecommunications. Furthermore, Vietnam is could also benefit from the exporting of agriculture and fisheries products. Malaysia anticipates greater opportunities in travel, tourism and the aviation industry. Malaysia is expected to increase its GDP between 0.8% and 1.7% through the RCEP.

The Potential for Poverty Reduction

The RCEP is the biggest trade deal in Asia-Pacific’s history. The trade deal is predicted to add US$186 billion to the global economy and 0.2% to the gross domestic product of each participating nation. Also, free trade agreements allow emerging economies to become more sustainable. According to the World Bank, poverty is reduced by boosting international trade. Global trade expands the number of quality jobs and encourages economic growth. The RCEP came at a time when there are future uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts. Many anticipate that the RCEP will benefit Asia’s impoverished.

Andy Calderon
Photo: Flickr

BrexitJanuary 31, 2020, was a historic day for the European Union, for it marks the day the United Kingdom left the Union based on a public vote (referendum) held in June 2016. Seventeen point four million citizens opted for Brexit in 2016 and, after several negotiations and talks, the U.K. is now the first former member of the European Union. An important and large-scale decision such as this has the ability to distort economic stability greatly.


The EU is the world’s largest single market that allows free trade among all its members. It is also responsible for negotiating trade policies on behalf of its members, establishing a single, strong voice throughout various negotiations. Since Britain is no longer a member, it must create its own suitable trade policies with the countries it wishes to trade within the Union. Britain also needs to negotiate for its own demands. It was projected that the U.K. stood to lose $32 billion after Brexit, with no trade agreement in place between the U.K. and the EU. Losses incurred are more likely to increase as the EU accounts for nearly 46% of the U.K.’s exports. Researchers project that Ireland’s exports to Britain may drop by at least 10%. This creates a serious trade imbalance and hence contributes to the national deficit of the nation.

Food Poverty

British citizens consume a significant amount of imported food. Brexit could lead to a rise in food poverty, as about 30% of food is imported from the EU and 11% is from countries whose trade policies were negotiated by the EU. Since there is no trade policy in place, food insecurity is bound to rise. Food prices will likely rise 6% by June 2020, according to researchers. Overall, an increase in food poverty may be on the horizon.


The U.K. had announced that post-Brexit only highly skilled immigrants will be able to secure jobs and the additional requirements have already created an impact on the economy. Immigrants mostly work low-skilled jobs and the implementation of this policy has already lead to shortages. At least one in 11 posts are vacant. Also, immigrants occupy nearly one-sixth (140,000) of the 840,000 care worker jobs. The new regulations will soon prompt vacancies and greatly affect people with disabilities and the elderly.

The Potential Solutions

Trade talks between the U.K. and the EU are taking place effectively. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed a “Canada-style free trade agreement” which the EU is prepared to accept, given the fact that the agreement would demand no tariffs or quotas from them. This shows that negotiations are productive and that the U.K. is trying to cause very little disturbance to the economy. Aware of its reliance on imports from the EU, the U.K. has opted for a mutually beneficial free trade agreement. As the cost of imports and exports are reduced, the trade imbalances are corrected. This in turn will influence food poverty as the general price levels will decrease and imported food will become affordable.

Additionally, there are multiple organizations and government schemes that help combat food poverty in the U.K. For example, The Trussell Trust and other independent foodbanks have distributed nearly 3 million food packages between 2018 and 2019. The organization Healthy Start allows the purchase of basic food necessities for pregnant women and mothers with infants.

What Are the Benefits of Brexit for the UK?

The U.K. is free to trade with other nations such as Japan, the U.S. and India without EU restrictions. This will stimulate growth in all nations involved in possible free trade and help tackle domestic issues, such as unemployment and hunger. Effective trading can lead to increased employment opportunities and better living standards.

The U.K. has given almost half a trillion pounds to the EU to be a member of the bloc. The amount the U.K. will save is significant enough to be directed at rising food insecurity, short-term deficit and unemployment. The U.K. is also able to craft specific policies to suit its needs instead of being subject to the ones crafted by the EU. The ability to do this helps the U.K. and other nations involved, as all policies will be tailored to be mutually beneficial and appropriate.

Overall, Brexit is a challenge. It is difficult to adjust to and likely poses serious threats to economic stability in the near future. However, this is only a short-term issue. Once the transition period is over, a structured agreement between the E.U. and the U.K. will help their economies regain stability.

 Mridula Divakar
Photo: Flickr