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)
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid