TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Cameroon: Early Fruits of AGOA Harvest

Wednesday, 20 July 2005

Source: Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

Two Cameroonian businesswomen, Ndoumbe Roline, president of African Women Arts and Caroline Kemdem, general manager of Brodwell, were last Friday hailed for making in-roots into the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) process. The US Ambassador, Niels Marquardt, expressed his satisfaction during a press conference in Yaounde when the two ladies shared their experiences with pressmen. The conference was organised ahead of the US-sub-Saharan African Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum that kicked off in Dakar last Monday. Niels Marquardt, during the occasion, encouraged Bizmen into the mainstream of American trade. With great pleasure, satisfaction and hope, he re-echoed the importance of the AGOA forum which today remains a fundamental purveyor of the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

"By joining the AGOA process, the two Cameroonian ladies have expanded their businesses, hired new employees, increased their profits and have been able to benefit their local economies", he said. He described them as models for what AGOA program hopes to accomplish in Africa.

In the meantime, the United States Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns, has told participants at the fourth US-sub-Saharan African Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum that the United States now accounts for more than 24 percent of exports, the largest single-country share of all Africa's major trading partners. "Thanks to the AGOA process, the US has become a destination for exports from sub-Saharan Africa and foreign investment by the US and other nations have been boosted", he said.

In the same vein, the United States has agreed to comply with the World Trade Organisation's ruling to scrap cotton subsidies. Johanns told pressmen that as members of the WTO, his country must live by the rules. The US was ready to scrap subsidies to cotton farmers if other countries (in Europe and Japan) were also willing to do the same, he said

The AGOA Forum is a gathering of representatives of the governments of the US and 37 AGOA-eligible African countries, as well as representatives from the private sector and civil society. The American Congress voted the Act for an initial period of eight years. However, early this year, President Bush succeeded in getting the Congress to extend the period to 2015. It provides benefit in duty and quota free exports to more than 6,700 products.