News / Africa

African Business Leaders Eye Expanded Exports Under US Trade

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C), arrives at the opening session of the eighth Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA) Forum in Kenya's capital Nairobi, August 5, 2009 (file photo)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C), arrives at the opening session of the eighth Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA) Forum in Kenya's capital Nairobi, August 5, 2009 (file photo)

African business leaders are meeting in Zambia for talks on how they can take better advantage of U.S. trade preferences. The Obama administration wants Congress to extend those duty-free imports.

In the 10 years of trade preferences under the African Growth and Opportunity Act [AGOA], exports to the United States have grown from $23 billion to $64 billion.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, said that has helped improve African business and African governance.

“AGOA has made progress in creating jobs, spurring economic growth and facilitating a dialogue on key economic and political challenges facing many countries in sub-Saharan Africa,” he said.

Extending AGOA

The AGOA program is set to expire in 2015. The Obama administration wants Congress to extend it for another 10 years. AGOA-eligible countries are allowed to export certain kinds of products to the United States duty free, which Washington says encourages trade, not aid.

Ghana, for example, exported nearly $400 million worth of AGOA-eligible products in the first quarter of this year, twice what it did last year.

The director of export services at Ghana's Ministry of Trade and Industry, Gerald Nyarko-Mensah, says AGOA opens doors but investors will only pass through those doors if a country has the right business climate.

American retailers Pier One and Target have ordered more than $3 million worth of Ghanaian home décor products through AGOA.

“Thousands of artisans had to be mobilized to produce the large quantities that these buyers wanted," said Nyarko-Mensah. "This kind of mass production had never happened in our country before. In the beginning, even the banks had difficulty because pre-financing such large orders was something they had not done previously for artisanal producers. So it has opened a whole new paradigm, particularly for micro-enterprises.”

Trade, not aid

Ugandan businesswoman Anne Babumba Magero exports organic soaps under AGOA. She said the program gives African women the power to make their own decisions about their own finances.

“We are more independent," she said. "Now we can look after our families. We can educate our children. We have done a lot for ourselves. We are not there waiting for our men to do each and everything for us. Yes.”

The director of private sector development at Angola's chamber of commerce and industry, Jose Rodrigues Alentejo, says his country is just starting to take advantage of AGOA.

“AGOA is a good opportunity, but we are not yet feeling the results," said Alentejo. "Only now are we starting to produce some products of quality and competitive prices. This means that we are now starting to approach the international market.”

Angola is part of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, or COMESA. The trade group's director for investment promotion and private sector development, Chungu Mwila, said the continent has not yet fully exploited AGOA's potential.

Tapping the full potential

“African governments have not been able to create the productive capacity to make them competitive with other economies elsewhere," said Mwila. "So it is narrow. The range of products is limited. If you look at the volumes, yes, there have been some increases here and there. But I think we could be doing a lot more under the provisions of AGOA.”

Textile and oil products still dominate AGOA exports. Mwila said his goal for this meeting in Zambia is to improve Africa's performance, especially in areas where it may have a competitive advantage, such as agriculture.

“The potential lies in agriculture, semi-processed agricultural products," said Mwila. "We need to diversify away from the textile industries, from petroleum products, so we are able to put semi-processed goods on that market.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives Friday in Zambia to help close this AGOA forum. While in Lusaka, she will meet with Zambian President Rupiah Banda and speak to the U.S.-Zambia chamber of commerce.




You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs