The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has highlighted that more needs to be done in creating awareness about the opportunities provided by the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA).
AGOA is a United States Trade Act, enacted on 18 May 2000 as Public Law that significantly enhances market access to the U.S for qualifying Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries.
Kadaga sounded the call on Friday while addressing the media ahead of a sensitization workshop and exhibition at Parliament organized by the AGOA Exporters Association of Uganda.
The event will take place on May 14 and 15 at the Parliamentary grounds.
Kadaga said there is need to popularize AGOA since not enough Ugandans know how to access the benefits it offers.
The AGOA exhibition and workshop are timely in ensuring that the public is made aware of the opportunities that are available and the kind of products they can export to America, she said.
“The exhibition and the workshop are welcome. Not enough Ugandans know about AGOA and not enough Ugandans know how to access it. Even when we are budgeting, sometimes it is difficult to support the funding,” Kadaga said.
She added, “I thought we should assist the country by showcasing what AGOA offers, this also reminds me that some years ago, I and other legislators were invited to go the U.S Congress to lobby for extension of AGOA”.
“A lot of good products have been produced in Uganda and all we need is to streamline the channels of communication, the channels of transmission and quality control. If we do that, I know the sky can only be the limit and Ugandans can take advantage of the 800 products that can be exported to the U.S market,” she added.
The chairperson of the AGOA Exporters Association of Uganda, Meg Jaquay Hilbert assured the public that accessing AGOA is not difficult and is open to everyone.
“Once a product meets the market needs, it can easily enter into United States. We also want to end the notion that AGOA is dead, we are very alive in Uganda and that is what we want everyone to take away from this exhibition,” Jaquay said.
Jaquay said nearly 70 export-ready and current USA exporters under the AGOA program will be exhibiting their products at the Parliament grounds.
“The exhibitors will be exclusively showcasing Made in Uganda products from across the 7 sectors of the AGOA Uganda National Strategy including crafts, fashion, home décor, specialty foods and coffee,” Jaquay said.
On the same note, the Senior Presidential Advisor on AGOA, Susan Muhwezi appealed to the Private Sector, government and Parliament to take AGOA seriously due to the enormous opportunities it offers.
Muhwezi gave an example of countries like Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa that have reaped big out of AGOA exports.
If you compare countries that export Oil and Oil Products like Nigeria, you find that AGOA is making billions, I am looking forward to when our oil is out and we begin exporting it under AGOA because it is an exportable product, Muhwezi said.
Muhwezi added: “I call upon the private sector to take AGOA seriously, I also call upon government and Parliament to priotize AGOA because where you invest is where you make money”.
Muhwezi noted however that through the private sector, the country was able to earn USD 82m from AGOA in 2017 but this reduced to USD 53m in 2018.
During the two-day event, executives an staff from the East African Trade and Investment Hub in Nairobi will host various workshops on how to reach the USA market, how to address standards and will showcase current success stories from various Ugandan exporters who have been in the U.S market for nearly 10 years.