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).