The Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), wants African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) offices in the country moved from State House to the Trade ministry, if traders and businesses are to benefit from the US market.
According to the US Department of Commerce, between January and March 2014, Uganda exported goods worth $8.23million (aboutShs21 billion) to the United States unlike Kenya whose exports were valued at $121 million (about Shs314 billion).
“The way AGOA is being handled from the start is the reason why we have not benefited. The placement of its offices at State House makes it hard to monitor progress of its activities,” Mr Gideon Badagawa, the executive director PSFU, said on Wednesday at a press conference to announce the upcoming 9th International Trade Facilitation Expo in Kampala.
He noted that government should formulate a policy to shift AGOA to the custodianship of ministry of Trade where its progress can be easily monitored.
This year’s expo is slated for July 24 to 26, under the theme: “Enhancing Uganda’s Competitiveness through strengthening Business Linkages”. It is aimed at enabling Ugandans get more information about existing trade facilitation services to enhance the country’s access to international markets.
“We have been holding the trade expo since 2006 to build capacity of our SMEs to boost trade thus uplifting our foreign exchange rate,” said Mr Badagawa. He also added that SMEs constitute more than 90 per cent of the Private Sector and a good environment for businesses is necessarily for broadening the tax base.
Speaking on behalf of the PSFU partners that organised the event, Mr Dan Muhumuza, the general manager of Shumuk Group of companies, said: “Without quality products from the Uganda businesses, we cannot compete favourably with our regional neighbours. Private sector players also want Members of Parliament to quicken the passing of the Counterfeit Bill if genuine manufacturers are to benefit from the available market.
The Trade Expo will, among others, attract players from various government departments, trade attachés from various foreign missions and embassies. According to the organisers, 25 embassies have already confirmed their attendance including: European Union, India, China, South Sudan, EAC States, Denmark, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Italy, Netherlands, Japan and South Africa.