Ghana: Strategy document on AGOA in the offing
A strategy document aimed at helping local companies to take advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is being developed.
AGOA is a trade preference which allows countries in Sub-Saharan Africa liberal access to the United States (US) market.
The strategy, which builds on Ghana’s National Export Strategy, aims to enable Ghana to make maximum use of opportunities under the AGOA, with emphasis on intensifying export development and diversification.
A workshop to validate the strategy as well as discuss the implementation plan was organised at the weekend, bringing together producers, processors and exporters together with government officials.
At the validation workshop in Accra, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, said since the introduction of the AGOA trade preference in 2000, Ghana had underutilised it and thus could not record any significant gains.
That, he said, informed the designing of an integrated strategic utilisation document that would enable Ghana to benefit immensely from the preferential market access to the US.
The document, which is being developed in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), seeks to provide tailor-made solutions to production capacity constraints in key sectors as well as complementary policies and programmes to support development and diversification.
Mr Ahomka-Lindsay added that the strategy was also in line with the government’s vision of pursuing pragmatic policies and programmes aimed at ensuring adequate infrastructure to support the development of the private sector.
As a country, he said, there was the need to concentrate on exportation to boost the economy and so the government was targeting $500 million from the AGOA trades.
Successful implementation of the strategy, he said, would require collaboration between the Ministry of Trade and Industry and its agencies, notably the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Free Zones Board and Ghana Standards Authority.
The US Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Robert Jackson, bemoaned the low participation of Ghana in the trade preference.
“AGOA is an opportunity for Ghana to access the US marketplace and increase exposure of made-in-Ghana goods. However, Ghana has not taken as much advantage of AGOA as I had hoped,” he said.
Although Ghana’s export to the US increased from $9 million worth of goods in 2015 to $29 million worth of goods in 2016, Mr Jackson said Ghana needed to increase its export substantially to enable it to fully integrate into the global economy.
The AGOA is the cornerstone of US commercial relationship in trade and investment with Africa and it allows for exportation of about 7,000 qualifying products to the US without paying duties. It was first signed in May 18, 2000, and has now been extended through 2025 by the US Congress.
The acts accorded duty free treatment to virtually all products exported by beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries to the US, and the major export items for exportation included apparel, footwear, luggage, handbags and watches.
AGOA also has provisions such as the third waiver, which allow countries eligible for the textile visa to purchase fabric from anywhere in the world, then cut, sew, package and export to the US.