TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Ugandan President: I Sacked 'Agoa Girls'

Thursday, 25 March 2004

Source: The Herald (Harare)

According to local newspaper "The Herald", Zimbabwe's chances of participating in the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) look promising as the country has met some preconditions required for its qualification into the American trade initiative.

Local trade lobby groups and the Ministry of Industry and International Trade have since embarked on seminars with business and the United States embassy in readiness for the possible inclusion.

During a seminar held in the city yesterday, US Embassy Economic and Commercial Chief, Mr William Weissman, said the inclusion of Zimbabwe would be beneficial to Agoa as the country had proven to be among the continent's leading manufacturers of competitive products.

He said the country had made great strides in the economic field to enhance its chances of its admission into the Agoa.

"The United States looks forward to the day that Zimbabwe qualifies for Agoa. It has moved closer to qualification after improvements especially in the economic landscape," Mr Weissman said during a seminar which was co-organised by ZimTrade and the Ministry of Industry and International Trade headed by Dr Samuel Mumbengegwi.

Agoa, which has a lifespan of eight years, is an Act that was promulgated in October 2000 in the United States to liberalise trade between the US and designated Sub-Saharan African countries.

Eligible countries have duty-free and quota-free export access to the US market.

Thirty-eight African countries in the region are benefiting from the initiative, while 10 are ineligible as the US says they have not fulfilled the requirements as stipulated by the Act.

Zimbabwe, Angola and Sudan are among other countries yet to partake in the arrangement.

To participate and benefit from Agoa, countries are expected to meet pre-requirements such as establishing market-based economies, combating corruption and poverty, promoting political pluralism and eliminating barriers that impede US trade and investment, among others.

Co-organisers of the seminar, ZimTrade said they were meeting exporters with the hope that the country would be admitted into the grouping of countries benefiting from the Act.

"We are meeting exporting companies in readiness for the country's readmission to Agoa. Basically, the Government is taking certain steps to ensure the country gets things going on this issue," said ZimTrade Matabeleland Regional Manager, Miss Priscilla Pilime, during the seminar.

The regional manager in the Ministry of Industry and International Trade Mrs Sarah Nago, said they would hold similar seminars on the Act.

"We are working on getting the exporting industries know how they can benefit from the trade initiative. We would also apprise the ministry's head office that it is industry's wish to participate in Agoa," she said.