The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) reduced U.S. trade barriers for goods from African countries that met certain conditions. The objective was to give their economies a boost.
Did it work? New research by Garth Frazer and Johannes Van Biesebroeck suggests that it did: Trade Growth under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (NBER working paper 13222, July 2007).
From the abstract:
Despite the fact that the AGOA product list as chosen to not include "import-sensitive" products, and despite the general challenges of transaction costs in African countries, we find that AGOA has a large and robust impact on apparel imports into the U.S., as well as on the agricultural and manufactured products covered by AGOA. These import responses grew over time and were the largest in product categories where the tariffs removed were large.
AGOA did not result in a decrease in exports to Europe in these product categories, suggesting that the U.S.-AGOA imports were not merely diverted from elsewhere.