The Uganda government is set to unveil the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Strategy and Action Plan to address the slow penetration of local businesses in the vast United States market.
This was revealed by Presidential Advisor on AGOA and Trade, what is ed Susan Muhwezi at the recently concluded Agriculture Trade Mission event in Kampala.
“We have developed the Uganda AGOA National Strategy that is implementable by both the government and private sector, web ” said Muhwezi at the function.
The strategy will see AGOA officials embark on a massive sensitization campaign to address low awareness of AGOA and confusion about procedures related to exporting under its provisions, lack of understanding of U.S. market requirements and absence of buyer linkages.
It’s understood that despite the availability of market for Ugandan products, the country continues to grapple with substandard infrastructure, low access to credit, unskilled labour force – all of which raise the cost of exporting.
These shortcomings have made it difficult for exporters to meet the U.S. customer requirements with respect to volumes and quality.
But Ms Muhwezi believes the new strategy will deal with these issues to activate Uganda’s potential in the U.S. market.
This, she said, would be through identifying a specific product that set that has demonstrated the potential to compete in U.S. markets and then developing an action plan to achieve the systematic removal of the key constraints to exporting in each of the product chains selected.
Ms Muhwezi said they have sensitized the private sector on opportunities under AGOA with assistance from East Africa Trade and Investment Hub in three regions – East, Central and West with the North being planned for June.
“As a government we are focusing on industrialisation and enhancing efforts to diversify our exports so as to take advantage of market access under AGOA,” said Ms Muhwezi.
She further stated that government is working on construction of the Standard Gauge Railway and Airline as part of easing on the cost of transport.
As part of the U.S. government’s ongoing commitment to building trade and investment opportunities within Uganda, the U.S. Embassy recently held a three-day Agricultural Trade Mission in Kampala.
Hosted along with the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Uganda and the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda, this event brought together 21 American agribusinesses and 24 Ugandan firms to meet and boost bilateral trade.
The trade mission was aimed at creating business linkages between world-class American technology and services and Uganda’s strong agricultural climate.
According to UN statistics, higher-value products such as telephones, computers, medicaments, aircraft spare parts and worn clothing are generally exported from United States to Uganda.
Yet, Uganda-US trade flows are dominated by commodities such as coffee, soya beans, handicrafts, vegetable saps, fish fillets, vanilla and casein.
AGOA was originally enacted in 2000 by U.S. Congress to provide duty free and quota free access to a wide range of products from African nations.
U.S. is far and a new market with AGOA originally having a short 5-year shelf life. This did not immediately attract investors and private sector.
However, AGOA was renewed for 10 years in 2015.
Performing best in East Africa under AGOA is Kenya which has reaped benefits to the tune of $321m as well as Tanzania which raked in $12.5m.
Ms Muhwezi said government continued to work with the private sector to reduce the cost of doing business by giving incentives to manufacturers and firms engaged in agro-business.
U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Deborah R. Malac highlighted the mutual benefits of the U.S. partnering with Uganda in growing their agricultural sector.
“Tapping into the enormous potential of Uganda’s agricultural sector, and linking it to the vast American markets – these are winning combinations. Together, I have no doubt that both our countries can profit from them,” she noted.
“The representatives of the Ugandan and U.S. private sectors at this trade mission are laying the foundation for shared prosperity and continued partnership for many years to come.”
The U.S. government said it remained committed to supporting bilateral trade and investment between the United States and Uganda so its citizens can prosper and grow together.