Ugandans asked to access US market in new Agoa strategy

Ms Evelyn Zalwango (Right), the CEO Awaka Furniture, shows outgoing Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde and Susan Muhwezi, special presidential adviser on Agoa some of the products manufactured from wood and sold to the US under the Agoa arrangements. Photo by Stephen Otage

What you need to know:

Incentive. Uganda was given a 10-year extension of the strategy.

KAMPALA. The United States Embassy in Kampala has asked Ugandans who wish to benefit from the US market to carry out research on the unique needs of the US market before venturing into it if they are to break through.
Speaking during the national African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) strategy consultative meeting in Kampala last week, Mr Mark Meassick, the deputy mission director, said Ugandans who wish to export to the US market should take advantage of trade promotion agencies the embassy and organisations such as the American Chamber of Commerce to build linkages to facilitate trade between Ugandan companies and those based in the US.

“The US market is the largest consumer market in the world and Agoa is here to stay. Last year Ugandan exports to Agoa fetched $200,000 (Shs673m) which is a very huge opportunity for the country and Usaid is setting up a program here to build the capacity of SMEs,” he said, explaining that it is possible for local companies here to supply departmental stores such as Wal-Mart, but such contracts may be constrained by the inability of the local companies to raise the capital which may be required to produce the volumes of the goods which have been ordered for.

“Credit for trade here is very expensive and even when traders get letters of intent, they may not be able to satisfy the quantities needed, the designs so they need to understand consumer needs do that. Trade is based on mutual relations,” he said.
Ms Susan Muhwezi, the senior presidential adviser on Agoa, said Ugandans should take advantage of the 10-year extension which was given to Uganda to export quota and duty free items to the US.
“Many people just hear about Agoa and they think it is the Tri-Star Apparel factory which collapsed but we have assisted over 15 companies to penetrate the US market and we have followed them through,” she said, adding that the new strategy is meant to streamline the bottlenecks hindering Ugandans from accessing the US market.

The Agoa is the Africa Growth Opportunities Act signed into law by the US government in 2000. It allows African countries to export anything but arms into the US market on quota and duty free basis. Items accepted include flowers, fish, and processed agricultural products, among others.