TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

AGOA Apparel Trade Quotas

'Wearing apparel' qualifies for duty-free imports into the United States subject to a number of conditions. First, an AGOA beneficiary country must have implemented an apparel visa system that administers apparel exports and the movement and use of fabric imports. This is to ensure strict compliance with the Rules of Origin, which contain a number of categories, and inter alia allow the use of imported fabric by certain countries for the manufacture of qualifying AGOA garments.

The AGOA apparel preferences are subject to an annual quota. This quota is re-assessed annually and is based on total US imports of textiles and apparel over the preceding year. The percentage threshold used to determine the annual quota is provided for by the original AGOA legislation (or subsequent legislative amendments) and is based on a volumetric determination, rather than on the value of imports. For this purpose, the quota is based on square meter equivalents (SME) of goods imported into the US. 

Initially, the annual quota limit was determined to be 1.5% of total US textile and apparel imports, and (was set to) increase to 3.5% in annual increments by 2008.The 'AGOA II' law changes increased this threshold to 7%. 'AGOA III' extended the normal apparel benefits (excluding those relating to the use of third country fabric) to 2015, without changing the applicable quota limits. 

Under 'AGOA IV' legal changes at the end of 2006, the third country fabric (TCF) provisions were extended to 2012, subject to various conditions. For example, the legislation introduced the concept of "abundant supply" - initially for denim only and requiring a certain quantity of local denim to be used first - but these provisions were later repealed. In September 2012, the US Congress extended the TCF provisions to September 2015 to expire along with the underlying AGOA legislation. The 10-year AGOA renewal that was signed into law in June 2015 has since extended the apparel provisions to 2025

  • The annual quota does not discriminate between countries (AGOA beneficiaries) and is filled on a first-come-first-serve basis. 
  • AGOA apparel exports from LDC countries (those that qualify for the AGOA TCF provisions) are subject to a sub-quota which is roughly 50% of the combined quota.
  • To date, the annual apparel quota has not been breached and has, therefore, had little practical impact on apparel trade under AGOA preferences. Note that the apparel quota period runs annually from October 01 to September 30 of the following year. 

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*** Apparel quota levels announced on 28 September 2016, covering the Oct. 2016 - Sept. 2017 period

Follow link to a copy of the official announcement by OTEXA: [click]

Total Quota Preference Level October 2016 - September 2017: 

1,966,511,796 SME, 983,255,898 SME using Third Country Fabric (aggregate is up from 1,935,096,830 SME for previous period)

Total Quota Preference Level October 2015 - September 2016: 

1,935,096,830 SME (up from 1,833,741,923 SME for previous period)

Total Quota Preference Level under LDC Rule: 967,548,415 SME  (up from 916,870,961 SME for previous period)

Total Imports October 2015 - July 2016: 195,622,260 SME

Total Imports October 2015 - July 2016 under LDC Sub-quota:  194,522,428 SME

Aggregate Quota Fill Rate October 2015 - July 2016: 10.11%

Quota Fill Rate under LDC Rule October 2015 - July 2016: 20.10%



Historic apparel quota levels and utilisation rates:

2015-2016:  Total Quota Preference  1,935,096,830 SME

(combined fill rate: pending - - - %, LDC fill rate - - - %)


2014-2015: Total Quota Preference  1,833,741,923 SME

(combined fill rate: 13.31%, LDC fill rate 26.41%)


2013-2014: Total Quota Preference  1,784,195,681 SME

(combined fill rate : 13.30%, LDC fill rate 26.3%)


2012-2013: Total Quota Preference  1,735,859,926 SME

(combined fill rate: 12.59%, LDC fill rate 24.96%)


2011-2012: Total Quota Preference  

1,877,430,342 SME (combined fill rate: 10.14%, LDC fill rate 20.10%)


2010-2011: Total Quota Preference  

1,733,484,674 SME (combined fill rate: 12.03%, LDC fill rate 23.62%)


2009-2010: Total Quota Preference  

1,628,793,037 SME (combined fill rate: 12.21%, LDC fill rate 23.92%)


2008-2009: Total Quota Preference  

1,711,900,006 SME (combined fill rate: 15.70%, LDC fill rate 30.5%)


2007-2008: Total Quota Preference  

1,746,798,542 SME (combined fill rate: 14.48%, LDC fill rate 27.93%)


2006-2007: Total Quota Preference  

1,498,846,694 SME (combined fill rate: 21.05%, LDC fill rate 36.63%)


2005-2006: Total Quota Preference  

1,344,476,567 SME (combined fill rate: 23.43%)


2004-2005: Total Quota Preference  

1,076,876,652 SME (combined fill rate: 34.42%)


2003-2004: Total Quota Preference    

956,568,715 SME (combined fill rate: 37.59%)


2002-2003: Total Quota Preference    

735,905,928 SME (combined fill rate: 35.94%)


2001-2002: Total Quota Preference    

313,303,986 SME (combined fill rate: 59.93%)