Sierra Leone: Local producers trained on AGOA trade benefits
The Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the West Africa Trade and Investment Hub yesterday organized a one day sensitization workshop for executives of local companies at the Hub Hotel Wilberforce in Freetown.
Sharka Kawa Export Development Officer of SLIEPA spoke about the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and it export strategy which is aimed at exporting locally made products to the American markets with less tax.
He also called on the private sector to promote diversification of investment in other sectors so as to stimulate the economy by exporting local products to US markets.
The Facilitator of the training Mohamed Abou Iiana, Senior AGOA Specialist based in Ghana, spoke about essence of the AGOA in promoting trade and investment in Africa.
He furthered that 49 countries [Ed Note: 38 countries are currently AGOA beneficiaries] are currently eligible for AGOA and they are evaluated annually in the areas of none- oil trade has increased fourfold from 1.4bn in 2001 to 4.1bn in 2015.
He said sectors that have so far benefited from AGOA includes automobile apparel, footwear prepared fruits and vegetable nuts and cut flowers.
He said currently there are 6,400 eligible tariff lines and promotion of value added productions with more processing and industrialization by creating more jobs and opportunities for integration of economies.
He said USD $160,000 in 2016 mainly agricultural project between AGOA and Sierra Leone noting that the US markets is the largest in the world.
The AGOA trade agreement was signed in 2000 for a period of 15 years but renewed for another ten years which is expected to expire in 2025.
USAID Country Programme Manager Everett Terrence spoke about their intervention during and after Ebola and expressed the need for capacity building on business and export promotion.
Chief Director in the Ministry of Trade and Industry Charles Mayweather Thompson said promoting AGOA export from Sierra Leone is a legal instrument aimed at promoting trade between the US and Africa.
He said the eligibility is to provide incentive for African companies to establish markets in the US and spoke about strides government is making in the protection of intellectual property right and the creation of commercial courts so as to protect trade and investment.
The training also focused on quality, standards, labeling and requirements for the US markets, many of the participants were also keen to export their products to the US markets.