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US embassy calls on Botswana firms to earn more from AGOA

US embassy calls on Botswana firms to earn more from AGOA
Published date:
Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The US Embassy in Gaborone has called on the Botswana business community to seize the enhanced trading opportunities offered by the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) to strengthen bilateral trade ties between the two countries, while improving the local economy.

Addressing a market access seminar organised by the American Business Council (ABC) in Gaborone on Tuesday, US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Tim Smith, said local firms should take advantage of the recent extension of Botswana’s membership of AGOA by 10 more years to enter and earn business from the US trade market.

“In our bilateral consultations, our Botswana stakeholders had asked us for an AGOA time horizon longer than the initial five-year window period offered under the previous trade legislation. We relayed the requests to Washington and they have reacted by extending (Botswana’s eligibility for) AGOA for the next 10 years,” said Smith.

He said the extension was important because it allowed firms enough time to set up export operations that could benefit from the unilateral access to tariff-free markets offered by AGOA. Since the inception of AGOA in May 2000, Botswana firms have exported goods worth millions of dollars to the US.

Last year, the total value of local goods exported to the US stood at U$7.5 million, a marked decline from the $9 million earned through AGOA in 2014. Through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the US embassy in Gaborone also provides $15 million (P166.5 million) every five years to local small and medium enterprises.

Smith urged all Botswana firms which wanted to diversify their businesses or seeking U.S products and services to contact the U.S Commercial Service, a trade promotion arm of the U.S Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.

Don Nay, the US Commercial Service Senior Regional Commercial Officer for Southern Africa, said Botswana firms need to attend US trade shows to benefit from trade linkages.

“Use our Business Information Services. We have a large network of information resources to assist you in finding your U.S products or services and will have an answer ready for you in 48 hours.

“We organise international buyer delegations to select US trade shows and provide the following services: travel logistics, scheduled introductions, and on-site business counselling and more. Delegates also have access to the international business centre and are invited to special networking events,” Nay said.

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