The 10-year expansion of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) by the U.S. Congress offers tremendous opportunities for Ghanaian entrepreneurs seeking to export Ghana-made products to the United States, Arun Kumar, Director General of the U.S and Foreign Commercial Service has said.
“We look forward to seeing Ghana capitalize on this opportunity and develop an effective AGOA strategy that would lead to long-term employment and opportunities for millions of Ghanaians and further increase trade between the United States and Ghana.
“I wanted to see for myself how Ghana is taking advantage of AGOA, and the impact AGOA is having on local communities,” said Kumar at a media interaction in Accra.
AGOA has recently been renewed for the next 10-years by the U.S. Congress. The U.S government enacted AGOA in May 2000 to give preferential market access for over 6,000 products from 39 sub-Saharan Africa nations with liberal access to the U.S. market.
As of June 2015, AGOA eligible countries have exported nearly US$480 billion worth of goods to the U.S under AGOA.
By providing duty-free access to the U.S. market, AGOA has succeeded in helping eligible nations grow, diversify their exports to the United States, and create employment and inclusive economic growth.
Under AGOA, eligible countries can export products, including value-added manufactured items such as textiles, to the U.S duty-free.
AGOA is the U.S government’s signature trade initiative with sub-Saharan Africa. In 2012, eligible countries exported nearly US$35billion worth of products to the United States under AGOA and its related general system of preference provisions.
Mr. Kumar emphasized U.S government’s pledged to promote growth by encouraging business partnership among the two countries.
“Trade is not a one-way street. We want to see Ghana prosperous in order to encourage more American companies to find Ghanaian partners and do business in your beautiful country.”
He said the U.S bilateral trade has been steadily rising over the last decade. “In 2014 our trade of goods was close to US$1.5 billion or 220 percent higher than what we traded back in 2004.”
Available data from the American Chamber of Commerce in Accra, shows that over the last 10-years members have invested close to US$13 billion in Ghana, paid US$800 million in taxes, and dedicated close to US$500 million on various social programmes.
“One could see the direct correlation here between this U.S. investment and the growth of U.S.-Ghana trade in the same period, as well as the positive footprint American companies have in Ghana when it comes to hiring and training the local labor force.
“I am here to ensure you on behalf of President Obama that we are committed to promoting U.S.-Ghana trade and investment, and I must emphasize the need for continuous progress in decision making when it comes to some of Ghana’s infrastructure projects that hold the potential for boosting trade and improving the everyday lives of ordinary Ghanaians.
“In my short time in Ghana I have come to recognize these opportunities as well as some of the challenges American companies face in the market. As Ghana has significant infrastructure, energy, health care, and fiscal challenges,” he observed.