……………”but add value to your raw cocoa” -Sullivan urges
Ghana has been named as one of African countries currently taking maximum advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), with an export value of US$300 million.
However managers of the programme are not satisfied with the country’s inability to process its cocoa before exporting.
“Everybody knows, you provide a huge portion of cocoa to the world, so if you could do some first-class processing in Ghana, that would add value to your economy” Harry Sullivan, Acting Director for Economic and Regional Affairs said in a teleconference to brief the media on AGOA.
AGOA provides duty free opportunities for African countries to export products to the United States at no cost and cocoa, together with textiles, are some of the products that are exported from Ghana under the programme.
Sullivan believes that although the American market has huge benefits, countries would have to meet the required standards to penetrate into the market.
“One of the key things in the American market is that the benefits are huge, but you need to produce to the quality and quantity required,” he stated.
According to the US-Africa Trade Statistics, total U.S. trade with sub-Saharan Africa rose by 16.8 percent from US$33 billion in 2016, to US$38.5 billion in 2017.
African exports of agricultural products to the United States rose by 10 percent to US$2.7 billion in 2017.
Non-oil exports to the U.S. have grown from US$1.3 billion in 2001, the year that the legislation was passed, to US$4.2 billion in 2016.
Sullivan believes Ghana has a huge potential to increase trade volumes to the US market if the private sector is supported.
“Ghana has shea butter, I visited Ghana several years ago, and one of the things that really struck me was the vibrancy of the private sector. Ghanaians have entrepreneurship in their blood, so what they need to do, though, is move from the market entrepreneurship to larger scale.” Sullivan opined.
On whether AGOA will survive under the Trump administration, Sullivan assured that the programme will still be run until the 10-year extended period, which ends in 2025.
“I think there’s a lot of concern that I’ve heard voiced over the last year and a half about the Trump administration and AGOA. So let me reiterate that the AGOA is a piece of legislation.
So it was passed by Congress, it has a 10-year window, and the executive branch does not have the power to willy-nilly overturn our legislation. So AGOA is safe until 2025,” he assured.
The Acting Director for Economic and Regional Affairs also affirmed the US government’s commitment to supporting Ghana and the African continent economically.
“We know that although the figures that I just outlined are encouraging, they only scratch the surface of the potential of U.S.-Africa trade. So we’re continuing to work with African countries to help them reduce impediments to trade, strengthening their enabling environments for investment, and putting in place the right ingredients for the private sector to thrive, both the domestic African private sector and foreign investment,” Sullivan added.
By Nana Oye Ankrah