Botswana: 'Businesses fail to fully utilise AGOA' - BITC
Local businesses are failing to exploit the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), says the director for export development at Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), Mr Obert Yuyi.
Mr Yuyi said this during a national AGOA response strategy workshop in Francistown on April 24. He said with the recent closure of mines around Francistown, unemployment was on the rise and that it required the business community to take over and employ locals.
"Taking advantage of AGOA means businesses expanding and exporting, triggering employment for many," he said.
He also identified inadequate awareness of AGOA, insufficient investment from the US, high costs of production and transport coupled with the distance to the market, low competitiveness as well as cost of compliance with US regulations and standards as some of the reasons the business community was not utilising AGOA.
Mr Yuyi, however, noted progress which included dissemination of the AGOA strategy to the business community through the ministry, the ongoing assessment of the competitiveness of Botswana beef to gain access to the US market and the development of sectoral strategies for all identified sectors.
Mr Yuyi noted the advantages for Botswana to benefit through AGOA, including the availability of natural resources such as land, minerals,wildlife and the country's location in SADC. He also cited access to regional markets, the absence of foreign exchange controls as well as political and macro-economic stability.
For his part, a representative from the US Embassy in Pretoria, Mr Andrew Nelson said the AGOA strategy had identified seven priority sectors which could be developed to increase exports to the US market as well as to attract domestic and foreign investment.
Amongst them, he mentioned handicrafts, horticulture and agro-processing, jewelry and semi-precious stones, leather and leather products, meat and meat products as well as the textiles and apparel sectors. AGOA is a unilateral trade preference programme that accords duty-free treatment to US imports of certain products from eligible countries.