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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.

ILAB participated in the 2013 AGOA forum August 9-13 in Addis Ababa Ethiopia, as part of a panel discussion, "Inclusive economic growth and sustainable development strategies: labor perspectives and best practices." The U.S. State Department, the Government of Liberia, and the International Labor Organization also participated in the panel. The session highlighted the role that greater respect for labor rights can play in advancing inclusive economic growth.