Groups representing apparel manufacturers, brands and retailers in Africa and the US are calling for the swift renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) before its expiry in September 2015.

In a position statement sent to the Obama administration and Congressional leadership last week, the groups set out their objectives for the deal they say not only supports African trade and development, but also US jobs that depend on the trade partnership.

Because sourcing decisions are made many months in advance, first and foremost they want AGOA to be renewed as soon as possible - ideally during 2013, but no later than 2014.

"Any delay into 2015, especially in light of last year's last-minute renewal of the third country fabric provision, will discourage continued sourcing and new investment," they say.

Another goal is to see AGOA renewed for a long enough period - at least 15 years - to ensure the predictability necessary to support trade and investment decisions.

Shorter term renewals will not provide enough certainty to enable the industry to make capital intensive investment decisions necessary to attract textile investments or affect long term sourcing partnership decisions.

Another call is for long-term renewal of the third country fabric provision, which has become central to AGOA.

Not only does further vertical integration into upstream textile production require maintenance of a healthy downstream apparel sector - which in turn is dependent upon the third country fabric provision - but it needs to be extended to all AGOA beneficiaries, the groups point out.

Groups backing the calls for immediate renewal of AGOA are the African Cotton and Textile Industries Federation (ACTIF), the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), the National Retail Federation (NRF), the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), and the United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA).