AGOA is an important tool to help Uganda achieve the middle-income status as US and Africa are set to extend it by 20 years
KAMPALA - Uganda Mrs. Suzan Muhwezi, from the Export Led Growth Strategy and AGOA Country Response Office who also doubles as Uganda’s Senior Presidential Advisor on AGOA and other Trade related matters, has told exporters to add value to their products and improve on the quality in order to benefit from the vast U. S. Market.
The U.S. government wants Uganda to increase its exports to the United States and to take advantage of U.S. markets as a means of accelerating the country’s economic growth.
AGOA, which was initially extended to 2025, is an important tool to help Uganda achieve its goal of becoming a middle-income country. It is therefore important that the Ministry of Trade, Uganda’s AGOA office and the U.S. government continue their coordination and develop an AGOA national strategy
Earlier this year while meeting exporters of different products Mrs. Muhwezi said COVID-19 disrupted many businesses hence the need for an extension of the AGOA deadline. “AGOA should not just be about exports but attracting American Investors to Africa,” Mrs. Muhwezi added. News coming in the suggests that USA and Africa agree to extend AGOA for another 20 years. This has been reached on according to reports at the ongoing U.S.A- Africa Leaders Summit in Washington D.C.
Meanwhile, Organizations from the apparel industry in the US, along with the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), are calling for long-term renewal of the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA).
In a letter dated 12 December addressed to the President of the United States, Joe Biden, the AAFA and more than 20 other organisations have called for renewal of AGOA during the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit taking place from 13-15 December 2022 where African heads of state will meet with Biden.
“AGOA’s expiration date is less than three years away. September 2025 may sound like a distant date, it is actually no time at all for the continuity, certainty, and commitment needed for our industry’s supply chains to grow and thrive in the region,” says AAFA president and CEO Steve Lamar.
He added: “Companies are poised to diversify out of China now more than ever. Extending AGOA for an additional 10-year period would be incredibly impactful for companies hoping to grow commitments towards a vertical, responsible, and competitive industry in Africa over the next dozen years.” The American Apparel & Footwear Association stated in the letter that the intermittent nature of the programme before the decade-long renewal in 2015 did not leave enough time for the industry to “take full advantage.”
The organisations further emphasised the importance of the timely renewal of AGOA for an additional ten-year period, which would give the companies “necessary certainty and stability” to make investments and commitments for the growth of “a vertical, responsible, and competitive industry in Africa.”
The letter added: “Furthermore, we view AGOA as a bridge to other trade agreements such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the US-Kenya Strategic Trade and Investment Partnership (STIP). For instance, the US-Kenya STIP will benefit both trading partners in many ways but must include both trade provisions and flexibilities that promote regionalization. It is critical that Kenya may still draw upon the benefits from other AGOA countries, and vice versa, AGOA countries must still be able to partner with Kenya. In the end, regionalization will encourage more countries in the region to pursue trade agreements with the US and continue the growth in opportunities created by AGOA.”
This continued call to action follows a June 2022 testimony before the International Trade Commission and comments to the US Trade Representative, as well as decades of support for strategic trade partnerships in the region, adds AAFA.
She noted even though the AGOA expiration date is three years away, US investment in the region already faces mounting uncertainty.