Use AGOA to reach American market — Trade Minister

Players in the non-traditional export sector have been urged to fully leverage the opportunities under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to enable them to access the American market.

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Haruna Iddirsu, who made the call in an interview with the Daily Graphic, said AGOA had been extended for 15 more years and asked small business owners to ensure that they derived more benefits than they did in the past.

The minister had earlier in the week launched the National Export Strategy and Development Programme aimed at increasing earnings from the country’s non-traditional exports.

AGOA

The United States of America (USA) in 2000 enacted the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to allow some 39 sub-Saharan African countries, including Ghana, to export more than 6,400 items to the US quota-free and tariff-free.

Between January and March this year, Ghana has exported a total US$580,000 worth of items to the United States under AGOA. Records indicate that Ghana exported a little more than US$2 million worth of products under AGOA in 2010; over US$414 million in 2011 (boosted by oil exports) and US$16.98 million in 2012.

The numbers (excluding oil exports) mean that Ghana has to redouble its efforts at taking advantage of the AGOA initiative.

In the past, the country tried garments manufacturing and a few other things which were not competitive.

Fortunately, artifacts, sculptures and such non-traditional deco items are also said to be making great inroads.

Against this background, Mr Iddrisu urged the players in the small scale sector to do more to reach the American markets.

While doing so, he urged the exporters to ensure that they improved the quality of the produce to meet the standards of the American market.

“By exporting more, you will be expanding your businesses and that will translate into more job creation for the people.

Govt stimulus package

On the role of the Export Development Agriculture Industrial Fund (EDAIF), the Trade and Industry minister said the fund would from next year be made to release monies to support the development of some key areas such as pharmaceuticals, cashew among others.

He said ‘this will be under a special stimulus package to be announced in the 2014 budget statement to be presented to Parliament”.

The move forms part of the government’s efforts to once again revive the manufacturing sector and to create more jobs for the people.

He said the players to benefit from the package would have to show proof of repaying the monies given over a period while demonstrating their capabilities to create employment opportunities.

The Trade and Industry minister also noted that under the package, poultry farmers would be given priority  as the government intended to revive the industry and to help reduce the importation of chicken and other bird products from the European market.

He said it was the intention of the government to double exports to US$5 billion by 2017, and urged the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) to take advantage of the AGOA and the economic environment to make the target a reality.

By Charles Benoni Okine/Daily Graphic/Ghana


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