- Set up by H.E The President as a monitoring unit to cut through the buearacracy for investors coming to Uganda to invest in Export related projects under AGOA initiative.
- To sensitize and mobilize the private sector to take advantage of AGOA
- To monitor ongoing projects and report to H.E the President
AGOA Country Response Office
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was enacted into law on May 18, 2000 as part of the Trade and Development Act of 2000. It is the latest of a series of regional initiatives in United States trade policy that are based on the general philosophy of “Trade not Aid” as the chief tool of promoting economic development. The main aim of AGOA is to promote a two way trade between Sub-Saharan Africa and United States and to increase US investment into Sub-Saharan Africa. The act also offers tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets. AGOA initiative allows over 8600 products in various sectors such as Agriculture, textile and apparel, automobiles, oil and oil products, foods to be exported to the US duty free and quota free.
President Museveni was the first President in Africa to endorse AGOA and it was subsequently endorsed by other African Governments. Currently they are about 40 Sub-Saharan African eligible countries exporting under AGOA. Since African Opportunity Act enactment over a decade ago, the US trade law has created over hundreds of thousands of African jobs and increased African exports by more than 500 percent. In 2012 alone, the US and Sub Saharan trade goods totaled over 72billion US Dollars.
There are many AGOA success stories for example transportation equipment mostly automobile imported into US from South Africa grew from $ 296mn in 2001 to US $ 2.1bn in 2011). Kenya has benefited greatly in cut flower and garments while Lesotho private sector now employs people than the Government, thanks to AGOA which has generated 50,000 jobs in Lesotho garment sector alone. Under AGOA Ethiopia has developed a robust shoe export market. Uganda too is exporting shoes to the US though we still get our leather from Kenya and add value here.
This unit was established by H.E The President as a monitoring unit for projects developed under AGOA and to cut through the bureaucracy for investors coming to invest in sectors related to AGOA. We were mandated to work using the existing structures under State House. We had to work with other Ministries and agencies that promote agriculture, trade, exports and investment because they were the implementers. However, we have now gone beyond the original mandate of monitoring to implement, promote and sensitize as there were no existing projects to monitor.
Uganda consistently stands out at the AGOA Forums because of the pioneering role President Museveni played in advancing AGOA and its an enactment and expansion together with President Bill Clinton and President George Bush. What disappoints, however, is that while Uganda was a leader in establishing AGOA, it now lags behind in realizing AGOA’s benefits. Last year Uganda’s total duty free exports to the US were nearly US $ 35mn – a small portion ($ 1.8mn) of this represented AGOA exports. There are many opportunities that AGOA offers but Uganda has to realize that AGOA is an “opportunity and not a guarantee”.
This is not to say that Uganda has not utilized AGOA some private sector people have taken the initiative and are exporting under AGOA. It is important to note that Uganda put the first “made in Uganda brand” on the American market in 2003 when Tri-Star was established. In that year, Uganda had started producing and exporting more garments to the US in a month than we had done in a decade. Over 1000 AGOA famous girls were trained and even after Tri-star collapsed some of those trained are now working in the new establishments.
- Loyalty: We will remain loyal to Uganda’s people and put their interests first and our appointing authority as we execute our duties.
- Passion: We will do our work with passion and a drive to succeed.
- Communication: We will communicate effectively with the private sector, other organizations and our international partners as a way of enhancing our work and promoting AGOA and Uganda’s exports.
- Integrity: In dealing and attracting foreign investors and dealing with all people, we will be transparent.
- Excellence: We will expect those companies and products that are to be promoted under AGOA or to other markets to be of high quality and the private sector to be fully aware of time-frames for delivery and the rules and demands expected in international trade to honor them.
- Respect: At our office we emphasize respect for each other as colleagues and for all people. We will maintain, develop and work within our professional knowledge and skills.
- Room for improvement: We will always be open to criticism; be willing to learn and improve in mind we are dealing with new markets.