Extend AGOA for another ten years

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.

Extend AGOA for another ten years
Mrs. Suzan Muhwezi, from the Export Led Growth Strategy and AGOA Country Response Office

By John Kusolo

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.

She made the remarks while briefing stakeholders especially exporters in a bid to extend the period of AGOA that ends in 2025 for another ten years, to 2035. “COVID-19 disrupted many businesses hence the need for an extension. AGOA should not just be about exports but attracting American Investors to Africa,” Mrs. Muhwezi added.

Meanwhile, Meg Hillbert Jacquay, President AMCHAM Uganda, says she will rally behind Uganda’s bid to have the deadline extended. Uganda is one of 38 countries that are eligible for duty-free and quota-free access to the U. S. market under the African Growth and opportunity Act (AGOA), a U. S Act that was signed into law in 2000 under the Clinton Administration.

H. E. President Museveni of Uganda was the first President in Africa to endorse the AGOA initiative due to the fact that he believed in “Trade not Aid” as one of the critical means of eradicating poverty in Africa thus stimulating economic development.

When Uganda became AGOA-eligible on October 2nd, 2000. This created a path for closer trade relations between Uganda and the U. S. and has since become the cornerstone of economic engagement between the two countries.

In times past, when one mentioned AGOA in Uganda, it was mostly assumed that it only applied to apparel and textiles. Many enterprises were not taking advantage of AGOA provisions simply because of lack of understanding of the stipulated guidelines and the misperception that the U. S. market is too difficult to enter.

With the changing situation due to various initiatives undertaken to enhance the awareness on AGOA, several enterprises have started to take advantage of AGOA especially those involved in the Agricultural sector which is a key pillar to Uganda’s economy. Such products include; Coffee, Cotton, Textile, and Apparel, Casein, Fish, Vanilla, Dried fruits, Leather, Cocoa, Spices, Floriculture, Essential Oils and natural extracts.

Uganda’s AGOA exports have increased dramatically year-on-year in the last 6 years and relatively low compared with regional exporters like Kenya, Ethiopia and even Tanzania. Uganda has now succeeded in increasing the utilization of AGOA, with exports increasing by 65.8% in FY 2021.

It is against the above background that the AGOA Response Office in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives met stakeholders from Companies exporting to the U. S. to dialogue on how best Uganda can increase its exports to the U. S. under the AGOA Market Initiative before it expires in 2025.

The objective of the meeting was:

a) To receive the status report on Uganda’s performance in terms of exports to U. S. through AGOA.
b) Dialogue on how best Uganda can enhance its exports to the U. S through AGOA.
C). Devise means of strengthening the Private Sector voice of Ugandan exporters to the U.S.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives with collaboration with the AGOA Response Office made a presentation on the status of Uganda’s performance in to AGOA and it was agreed on a clear recommendation and implementation Road map agreed upon by all stakeholders. Meanwhile, Surjit Sing, Managing Director of Guru Nanak Oil Mills(U) Ltd, encouraged the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, and Ugandan exporters to also tap on the Chinese market. He called upon Uganda to always book space in different Chinese exhibitions in order to market their products.