Sierra Leone: Trade opportunities opened with the US
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was signed into law by President Clinton in May 2000 with the objective of expanding U.S. trade and investment with sub-Saharan Africa, to stimulate economic growth, to encourage economic integration, and to facilitate sub-Saharan Africa’s integration into the global economy.
The Act establishes the annual U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa Economic Cooperation Forum (known as the AGOA Forum) to promote high-level dialogue on trade and investment-related issues.
At the centre of AGOA are substantial trade preferences that, along with those under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), allow virtually all marketable goods produced in AGOA-eligible countries to enter the U.S. market duty-free.
On Tuesday 12 September 2017, Ayodele Williams, AGOA Coordinator in Sierra Leone disclosed that Sierra Leone has received the required documentations and certification for the exporting of local products to the U.S.
He noted, “Many made-in-Sierra Leone goods have met the required standards to be exported to the U.S. Sierra Leone will soon start exporting goods to the U.S and other AGOA eligible countries,” Williams stated.
According to Williams, in 2004, the country was able to reach the trade and investment agreement with the U.S. but was unable to take advantage of the opportunity due to lack of proper certification and documentation.
Williams further informed SME owners about the trade opportunity pointing out the need to increase the production capacities for large export to other AGOA eligible countries and the U.S.
Explaining the importance for SMEs collaboration to encourage large export in order to meet the large market, Williams said the trade agreement is geared toward reduce poverty in the country, authenticate made in Sierra Leone goods and diversify the country exports to the U.S and other AGOA countries.
“As the cornerstone for economic development, AGOA will contribute to the diversification and competiveness of sub-Saharan Africa’s economies, support hundreds of thousands of jobs, increase global prosperity and market opportunities that accompany Africa’s rise.”
Meanwhile, representatives from Union Trust Bank, customs, Standard Bureau and National Shipping Company and Chamber of Commerce explained the several steps to acquire individual certification and documentation for the export of locals goods and the available facilities in their different institutions. The President of the Chamber of Commerce noted the need for the private sector to take advantage of this trade facility.