Botswana companies fail to reap AGOA benefits
Only two out of the 13 Botswana companies that signed to take up preferential trade opportunities with the United States through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) at its inception in 2000 have prospered through the trade deal, the government has announced.
Addressing delegates at a US Embassy-funded seminar aimed at appraising local businesses on new amendments to the Agoa legislation, Investment, Trade and Industry minister Vincent Seretse said the majority of local businesses had failed to reap AGOA benefits in the last 15 years due to lack of diversity in export products.
He said the two companies that had consistently benefited from Agoa were in the textile and clothing sectors, while 11 others which were part of the inaugural programme had fallen out due to lack of diversification and the sale of products that were not competitive enough to sustain their presence in international markets.
Seretse said the inability of local companies to benefit from the preferential trade agreement had led to a trade imbalance which had since ballooned to P38 million between 2004 and 2014.
“I support the development of a new strategy (to improve bi-lateral trade) because as Botswana, we have not been able to fully benefit from AGOA in the past 15 years,” Seretse said.
The new government initiatives to improve national export capabilities include the National Exports Strategy, Industrial Development, the Economic Diversification Drive and the Private Sector Development Programme.
However, the Botswana Exporters and Manufactures Association (BEMA) has called on the government to introduce incentives like duty incentives, rebates on sourcing of raw materials for the 6,400 Agoa product lines.
Although Botswana companies are eligible to supply goods from eight sub-sectors that include agriculture, machinery, minerals, metals, forestry, transport and electronic products, only two companies in the textile and garment manufacturing industry remained active participants in the Agoa programme.
Most of the local companies fell out of Agoa, citing high transport and logistic costs incurred in delivering products to the market, inadequate capacity and stringent US regulations, especially on sanitary and agricultural products.