Countries eligible for AGOA unaware of benefits: Dokua Asiamah-Adjei

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Many businesses in countries that are eligible for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), are unaware of the benefits offered by this preferential trade deal. That’s according to Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Nana Ama Dokua Asiamah-Adjei.

She says lack of access to information regarding the AGOA protocol has resulted in lower utilisation of the arrangement for duty-free access to the US market. This is one of the issues that will shape the future of the deal following the three-day summit held in Johannesburg this week.

Many businesses in over 30 countries in the Sub-Saharan region which are eligible to participate in the African Growth and Opportunities Act cannot take advantage of this opportunity. This as they struggle to meet the conditions for export to the US.

There are strict rules on the quality of packaging among others.

Access to information is one of the issues that hamper these businesses.

Ghana says more work needs to be done to improve the uptake of AGOA.

“We want to have access to the finished products and the AGOA product protocols as well as expanding what we were originally. I’m doing the utilisation of our goal has not exactly got to do with only access to the market, but possibly access to information with regards to their group protocols, access to even the opportunities on leveraging what AGOA brings on board. And I think for us in Ghana, (we) will have to organize a lot more training. More workshops, a lot more sessions to be able to inform. And manufacturers and entrepreneurs and the opportunities are available,” says Asiamah-Adjei.

Video: 20th AGOA Forum – Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry in Ghana provides insight

AGOA will expire in 2025 and African leaders want a timely renewal but US lawmakers will have the final say.

Economies in Sub-Saharan Africa continue to battle to trade across the 6000 product lines offered by AGOA.

Namibia is one of the countries that is seeking ways to gain more value from the AGOA arrangement, through cooperation with South Africa.

“The grapes, the date , the leather and leather products, oils and cosmetic products those are the category of goods…but what we are saying is if we have identified South Africa as a champion in the pharmaceutical products we first have to give our inputs in terms of the devil claws that we are extracting to South Africa to maybe just adding a first level value addition to make sure we dry them out, we pack them in a manner they are required to come here for further processing so that in the end of the day we have finished goods to infuse in the market,” says Lucia Lipumbu, Industrialisation and Trade Minister: Namibia.

Video: 20th AGOA Forum – Namibia’s Minister of Trade and Industrialisation – Hon: Lucia Iipumbu weighs in

Meanwhile, the United States says Ameria and Africa need to work together to ensure growth in trade that will benefit everyone.

“One of our jobs here together with the South Africans and all the other delegations is to be very specific about the real opportunities on the continent, be very clear about where we see challenges with security but encourage the American private sector to know that Africa is open for business and there are real opportunities in the US government through legislation like the African Growth Opportunity Act is a way to have really powerful two-way trade that benefits Americans and Africans,” says Judd Devermont, Senior Director for African Affairs: US National Security Council.

Africa wants to capacitate itself, to grow the continent’s economy through the exporting of finished goods.