Amending AGOA to Include Limited Dispute Settlement or Consultative Process to Resolve Disputes Will Increase Certainty, Improve Investment Flows and Build Capacity

BNA International Trade Daily Bulletin
In this article, Emmanuel Tamen and Austen Walsh examine efforts to reauthorize the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). According to the authors, although reauthorization would solidify economic progress, Congress should take the opportunity to strengthen and clarify the legislation, particularly through the inclusion of an advisory dispute settlement provision or a formalized dispute consultative process, which the Act currently lacks. Tamen and Walsh advocate for Congress to add advisory dispute panels to facilitate formalized input from AGOA beneficiaries and other stakeholders regarding ambiguities that may arise under the law. "There appears to be no fundamental policy rationale in not enhancing AGOA with forward-looking provisions, despite its principally non-reciprocal features. The ambition of the parties should guide the text, and tariff rate reductions -- as important as they are -- constitute only one of many U.S. policy objectives," the authors said. "The implementation of a dispute settlement or consultative process to resolve disputes under AGOA is an enhancement that may jump-start the development of dispute settlement capacity in AGOA-eligible countries, which may in turn lead to greater utilization of the dispute settlement mechanisms at the regional and the WTO levels." The authors conclude that this process will address an important trade policy objective.
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