Ugandan traders’ failure to exploit the huge American market under AGOA agreement is due to the private sector’s failure to produce enough and good quality products, an official has said.
Ms Susan Muhwezi, the presidential adviser on African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Trade, said on Wednesday that right from its inception, the well-intended programme was messed up by its initiators who failed to provide production and transport linkages that would enable the country sustain production to feed the readily available market.
“This programme was very good but there are no backward linkages. How many farmers are adding value to products, what is the transport like and the budget to this office (AGOA)? Do you want traders to transport in briefcases? Ms Muhwezi asked.
Ms Muhwezi’ made the remarks at the launch of the African Women Entrepreneurship programme (AWEP) meant to provide mentorship, business linkages, encourage intra-Africa trade and also bring on board Uganda National Bureau of Standard for quality assurance.
The meeting in Kampala was attended by several small and medium sized entrepreneurs and the Uganda Export Promotion Board chairperson board of directors, Ms Maria Odido who pointed out paying little attention to quality, packaging, poor infrastructure and high bank loan rates as key issues that need to be addressed if Uganda is to increase its benefits from AGOA.
The AGOA offer ends next year but African heads of states are due to meet later next months to ask for an extension, Ms Muhwezi said she expects the leaderse to lobby for 15 to 20 years to enable investors in long maturing agriculture plants like cocoa to export.