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Labor and the African Growth and Opportunity Act

"At the core of what was envisioned by the drafters of the African Growth and Opportunity Act was a vision where increased trade is a win for everyone, including investors, businesses, workers and their communities. During this year's AGOA Forum, we want to stress that this kind of inclusive growth is possible only when workers' rights are protected and the workforce is equipped with relevant skills and know-how to access the immense opportunities that exist for Africa."

— Tom Perez, U.S. Secretary of Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor works with the United States Trade Representative, Department of State, and other United States government agencies to implement the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), focusing in particular on the labor provisions of the Act.

AGOA authorizes the President to designate countries as eligible to receive its benefits if they are determined to have established, or are making continual progress toward establishing the protection of internationally recognized worker rights and the elimination of certain child labor practices.

At ILAB, we assist in the annual AGOA eligibility review process and fund technical assistance programs to protect and improve workers' rights in AGOA countries. AGOA and Labor As part of the annual AGOA eligibility review process, we examine each country's efforts to implement and enforce internationally recognized worker rights. These rights include the right of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, prohibitions on forced and compulsory labor, a minimum age for the employment of children, and acceptable conditions of work with respect to minimum wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health. ILAB also assesses each government's efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor.

2015 AGOA Forum

Representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor attended the 2015 AGOA Forum and preceding civil society program hosted in Libreville, Gabon in August. The Forum brought together representatives from the U.S. Government and all Sub-Saharan African countries that are eligible for benefits under AGOA. The U.S. Department of Labor, along with the International Labor Organization (ILO), and African labor civil society representatives attended the Forum to highlight the importance of making continual progress toward the establishment of internationally recognized worker rights, as required by the AGOA legislation.

Respect for internationally recognized worker rights was highlighted on panels at the civil society program and at the AGOA Forum. The Forum also hosted a VIP lunch for Trade Ministers at which the ILO presented on the important link between internationally recognized worker rights and international trade.

Labor-relevant messages presented at the 2015 AGOA Forum.

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