The USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (the Hub) is a regional mechanism for innovation that enables the private sector to increase trade, attract investment, create jobs and reduce food insecurity. The Hub accomplishes this by promoting two-way trade with the United States (U.S.) under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), providing targeted investment facilitation, supporting adherence to intra-regional and international trade agreements and standards and removing barriers to regional trade in staple foods. A stable, business-friendly Africa provides economic opportunities for U.S. companies and workers and reduces irregular migration and violent extremism.Subscribe to our newsletter
May 16, 2019
The Hub partnered with Agribusiness Focused Partnerships (AGRIFOP) to empower 20 women cross border traders from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on how to protect their rights under national, regional and international cross border trade protocols and on structured staples food trade practices. The capacity building forum included a Business-to-Business event where women traders signed commitments to trade 2,000 MT of Soya valued at $1.3 M, and 6,000 MT of maize valued at $1.65 M.
The traders received training on the harmonized EAC grain standards which enabled them to understand grain quality expectations for cross border trade, including proper grain handling and aflatoxin awareness. The women traders also learned about the nine step Simplified Trade Regime (STR) guidelines set up by the EAC and COMESA to ease the challenges of moving goods across the region.
"We have had challenges in securing good quality grains from the traders and therefore applaud the efforts of the Hub in training the cross border traders so they are aware of the quality requirements for grains and legumes,” said Alphonesine Mutako, Rwanda Grains and Cereals Corporation.
Formal cross border trade in East Africa faces many challenges. Small informal cross border traders, the majority of whom are women, face even greater challenges to moving staples from one country to another. Studies have shown that women engaged in informal cross border trade lack knowledge of the rules and regulations governing formal cross border trade and are often the subject of physical abuse, extortion and burdensome requirements. In order to support increased intra-regional trade in staples and increase the resiliency of border communities, it is important to empower women cross border traders on structured trade, basic principles of business and EAC/COMES STR and grain standards.
"The borders between us are administrative and should not be a hindrance to trade, we encourage the traders to come through appropriate channels and if they have challenges we are there to assist them" said Jean Baptiste from Rwanda Department of Immigration.
One of the goals of the Hub is to increase EAC intra-regional trade of agricultural commodities thereby contributing to economic growth and consequently to the attainment of Feed the Future objectives. Building the capacity of women traders on regional grain standards and cross border trade protocols will enable them trade greater volumes.
The Hub partnered with AGRIFOP, through a grant, to build the capacity of women cross-border traders and their associations, to support their participation in the formal trade of staple foods and to increase their representation within the East African Community (EAC). Cross border women traders from the republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania at the borders of Gisenyi, Kagitumba/Mirama Hills, Rusumo and Nemba were targeted in this activity. The main objective of these workshops was to sensitize women traders on structured trade procedures at the border, particularly the STR, and to build trade linkages among the traders themselves and with larger aggregators and processors.May 16, 2019
The World Economic Situation and Prospects 2019 offers timely warnings about a range of macroeconomic challenges facing policymakers as they aim to deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Last year’s report noted that after a long period of stagnation, the world economy was strengthening, creating opportunities to reorient policy towards the longer-term pursuit of sustainable development. The intervening year has been punctuated by escalating global trade disputes and episodes of financial stress and volatility, amid an undercurrent of geopolitical tensions.
While global economic indicators remain largely favorable, they do not tell the whole story. The World Economic Situation and Prospects 2019 underscores that behind these numbers, one can discern a build-up in short-term risks that are threatening global growth prospects. More fundamentally, the report raises concerns over the sustainability of global economic growth in the face of rising financial, social and environmental challenges. Global levels of public and private debt continue to rise. Economic growth is often failing to reach the people who need it most. The essential transition towards environmentally sustainable production and consumption is not happening fast enough, and the impacts of climate change are growing more widespread and severe.May 16, 2019
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) provides duty-free access to the U.S. market for over 6,000 products. This AGOA 101 manual outlines the step-by-step process that Ugandan businesses should take to export to the U.S. through AGOA. The guide provides additional information on the export of four high-demand, high-value sectors, namely coffee, cut flowers, fish, and textiles and apparel. Although exporting can be a challenging process, it can also be profitable if the individual or company successfully complies with the steps.
Exporters must follow two sets of requirements: Ugandan laws and regulations that govern the export process, and laws and regulations that govern the destination country’s imports, in this case, the U.S. Regulations also vary according to the product being exported; exporters must research to ensure that their product meets the necessary requirements for export.
This guide assumes that the exporter or potential exporter has already conducted the necessary market research, and is ready to export. Before proceeding, exporters must identify the correct tariff code and its eligibility for duty-free export under AGOA. This status can be established by referring to www.agoa.info/about-agoa/products.html. On that page, the user should insert the product name, search for the correct tariff code and confirm its AGOA status, denoted by the letter “D” in the AGOA indicator column. Exporters should familiarize themselves with U.S. industry standards and product specific regulations that may require additional documentation and procedures.May 16, 2019
The USAID East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (the Hub) partnered with the Uganda Parliament Speaker’s Office, the AGOA Country Response Office and AGOA Exporters Association, to conduct the Uganda Parliamentary AGOA Sensitization Workshops and Exhibition on May 14 -15 at the Uganda Parliament in Kampala. The Ugandan companies learned about the AGOA export requirements to enable them to fully utilize the duty free opportunity.
While delivering her opening remarks the Minister of Trade Industry and Cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde, said, “I wish to thank the organizers of this event. I want to remind the audience that AGOA is an opportunity for Uganda to access the U.S. market place, increase exposure for ‘Made in Uganda’ goods, and create more jobs. The Uganda Brand under BUBU (Buy Uganda, Build Uganda) was launched by the President on March 7, 2019 and it’s in the process of being popularized. The milestone we have taken today of exhibiting our products before the Parliament will definitely create further awareness amongst the Private Sector and Legislators in order to spur growth in exports under AGOA.”
AGOA has been the cornerstone of U.S. economic engagement with Uganda since it was signed into law in 2000, opening a path for closer trade relations between the countries. AGOA provides duty-free access to the U.S. market for over 6,000 products, creating a win-win scenario for U.S. and Ugandan businesses. It provides consumers with high-quality and diverse products at duty-free prices, while Ugandan businesses grow through increased exports and market access. This creates new jobs and revenue, thereby supporting the country’s economic development.
“Through AGOA, both Ugandan businesses and American enterprises have expanded and sought additional opportunities for growth. Sseko Designs is a jewelry, apparel, and accessories company that was established in 2009 to generate income for young Ugandan women to continue on to university. At the time it had 30 American women employees. Today, it has expanded and has so far helped 122 young Ugandan women go on to university after working with the company. Its U.S. establishment now has 560 women acting as its agents and obtaining a commission from sale proceeds,” said USAID Uganda Mission Director, Rick Somarriba.
Mr. Somarriba added, “Exports under AGOA have expanded from apparel and crafts to include fresh produce, dried fruits, and shea butter. Last year, KK Foods, a Ugandan company exporting fresh fruits and vegetables globally, exported its first consignment of fresh produce worth $70,000 to the U.S. under AGOA. Continued support to companies like KK Foods will ensure sustained growth for both individual firms and Uganda as a whole.”
Although a lot of progress has been made, AGOA’s potential has not been maximized. One of the primary constraints remains a lack of knowledge about AGOA among the private sector and supporting public sector actors. To mitigate this challenge the Hub supported the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives to develop Uganda’s National AGOA Strategy and Action Plan and AGOA 101.
“In order to address the challenges faced by exporters, our Ministry together with the AGOA Country Response Office have prepared the Uganda AGOA Strategy and Action Plan. This Strategy will go a long way in creating backward and forward linkages between government and Private Sector,” said Minister of Trade Industry and Cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde.
The Uganda AGOA Strategy and Action Plan has identified products where Uganda has a competitive advantage, namely: casein (a milk nutrient), Arabica coffee, fish fillets, cut flowers (sweetheart roses), home décor and fashion accessories, specialty foods (vanilla, dried fruits), shea butter, and textile & apparel (fashion & design).