There is an urgent need to align strategy on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to national economic strategy, if Ghana is to increase exports to the US, Trade Minister Alan Kyerematen has said.
Speaking at an AGOA capacity building and skills development workshop, Kyerematen observed “you cannot have an AGOA strategy sitting outside your national development agenda.”
A national AGOA strategy developed in 2016, identified constraints in order to determine Ghana’s strongest opportunities for expanding non-traditional exports (NTEs) to US markets.
This strategic approach will turn the market opportunities into sustained measurable export growth.
Ghana’s apparel exports increased from approximately US$ 500,000 in 2010 to US$ 8.5 million in 2017. This figure, under the strategy, is expected to double over the next two years.
In 2017, Ghana’s total imports from the US were estimated at US$ 886 million, whereas its total export’s amounted to US$ 750 million.
The Trade Minister emphasised the need for countries under the programme to do everything necessary to take advantage of AGOA over the next seven years window.
After the programme completed its initial 15-year period of validity, the AGOA legislation was extended in 2015 by a further 10 years to 2025.
In Africa, non-oil exports to the US under AGOA more than trippled from US$ 1.3 billion in 2001, the year that the legislation was passed, to US$ 4.2 billion in 2016, with the trend continuing to be positive since then.
Kyerematen stressed the need for political will and commitment of governments on the continent, as well as the entrepreneurial class to have both the capacity and appetite, and the willingness to take advantage of the opportunities.
Every Africa country has to have an implementation strategy to be able to take advantage of AGOA.
Recent statistics on US-Africa trade through 2017 showed that total U.S. trade with sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) rose by 16.8 percent; from US$ 33 billion in 2016, to US$38.5 billion in 2017.
U.S. exports to Africa increased by four percent to US$ 13.1 billion, while African exports to the United States rose by more than 24 percent to more than US$24 billion.
African exports of agricultural products to the United States rose by 10 percent to US$ 2.7 billion in 2017.
The AGOA accords duty free treatment to virtually all products exported by beneficiary SSA countries to the US, and the major export items for exportation included apparel, footwear, luggage, handbags and watches.
It also has provisions such as the third waiver, which allow countries eligible for the textile visa to purchase fabric from anywhere in the world, then cut, sew, package and export to the US.
By Joshua W. Amlanu