TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Uganda needs government support on AGOA initiative

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Source: East African Business Week

Eleven years since the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), an initiative that allows duty free and quarter free access to the US from sub Saharan African countries, was signed into place, most African countries are yet to reap the fruits of the initiative.

Uganda, one of the East African Community (EAC) state, has not been an exception. It is among the countries that have performed poorly under AGOA.

Countries that are performing well like Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Mauritius, have full backing of their governments, both for private sector and public sector.

Trade analysts contend that if AGOA is to be revitalized, it needs to be one of the priorities of Governments.

Unlike other response offices, Uganda's AGOA Response office for example, is riddled with challenges and constraints of underfunding making it difficult for it to promote the sector.

Uganda's Special Presidential Assistant on AGOA and Trade, Susan Muhwezi, says Uganda is not doing well under AGOA due to underfunding Muhwezi, said there is need for Government support if the initiative is to be achieved.

"Trade should be on the priority list of Government. As AGOA country office, we are struggling to promote the initiative, but we are not getting Government support," Muhwezi said.

Reports from the release under second quarter, indicate that the office received UGShs15 million ($0.6m) in the last quarter, which is insufficient for a response and monitoring unit of AGOA.

"It is important to note that activities related to the promotion of AGOA such as value addition, product development, branding, marketing, mobilization and sensitization are not a priority in our budget" Muhwezi said

"We need to have right policies in place that support AGOA and a reasonable budget that helps us to implement. AGOA is a private sector initiative, so we need to sensitise the sector to take advantage of this opportunity".

Against the revealing development, the US now wants East African nations to form an East African Trade Treaty that will be significant in promoting, supporting and marketing the initiative.

In her recent visit to Uganda, the Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa, Florizelle Liser, said the treaty will enable the EAC countries with a market of over 130 million people trade with the US as a block.

"An East African trade treaty will set a strategic approach with the people who have competitive products since it will have common roles about trade," Liser said.

Liser's remarks follows requests from sub-Saharan African countries during the AGOA Forum in Lusaka in June, that AGOA be extended from 2015-2025 to enable them benefit from the duty free and quota free access to the US market.

"We need a dialogue to talk to Africans on the extension of AGOA. Otherwise, what is the benefit of extending it when we don't benefit" Liser said

AGOA was signed into law on May 18, 2000 as Title 1 of the US Trade and Development Act of 2000. The Act offers tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets.

While Uganda may be having the capacity, the country needs tools, which can be measured against.

“ Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on

Click here to view a sector profile of Uganda's bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.

Other regularly updated trade statistics on include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-Beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.

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