Ghana’s export volumes continue to be unsatisfactory under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which provides trade preferences for quota and duty-free entry into the United States for some 6,400 products from sub-Saharan Africa.
Businesses and entrepreneurs have, therefore, been advised to do more and take advantage of the initiative to grow and expand, as well as increase the export rate of the country.
After completing its initial 15-year period of validity, the AGOA legislation was extended on June, 29, 2015 by a further 10 years, to 2025.
Since it was introduced in 2000, Ghana’s participation has not been too encouraging. Last year, the country was able to export US$29million under AGOA.
This figure does not reflect the economy and capability of the country, Mr. Mohammed Abou-iiana, Senior AGOA Specialist, Trade hub, said.
“We always see Ghana as the leader in West Africa and we expect more from the Ghanaian entrepreneur and businesses to export to the US market. We need to know more about the benefit of AGOA and take advantage of the opportunities”, he added.
Mr. Abou-iiana was speaking at an AGOA sensitisation workshop, organised by the Sekondi-Takoradi branch of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the West Africa Trade and Investment Hub, in Takoradi.
He explained that AGOA is to help West African farmers and firms to compete, attract investment to the region and boost their regional and global trade.
He said it is to also build regional and global trade linkages, streamline regional transport and trade policies.
“We expand trade in sectors such as apparel, cashew, shea and mangoes,” he said.
“AGOA was signed into law on May 18, 2000 and serves as the cornerstone of the United State commercial relationship in trade and investment with Africa,” he said.
“AGOA accords duty-free access for eligible products to the largest single market in the world. It also provides beneficiary countries with a significant competitive advantage over non-AGOA countries that must pay normal tariff rates to enter the United States.
This is particularly true with respect to products that have high U.S tariff rates in many instances, such as apparel, footwear and agricultural products,” he said.
AGOA, has had success in helping many African countries to diversify exports portfolio and has created hundreds of thousands of jobs.
He pointed out that quality, standard, pricing, specification and on time delivery is what customers are looking for in the US market.
Mr. Mark Badu-Aboagye, Chief Executive Officer of GNCCI added that Ghanaian companies need to take more advantage of AGOA, which started about 17 years ago, since Ghana’s exports under the initiative is less than one percent.
AGOA offers entry to some 6,400 products to the United States market without duty or quota.
“If you are exporting under AGOA and somebody is exporting from another country not under AGOA, automatically, you become more competitive because you are not paying any duty and your price will also be low”, he said.
He said the country stands to lose revenue if businesses are not exporting under AGOA.
“We are here to build your capacity and for you to take advantage of the opportunities that abound so that we will see improvement the export sector of the country”.