AGOA re­newal promis­ing - Nt­soale

Lesotho Times - - Business - Retha­bile Pitso

THE United States gov­ern­ment has been given un­til March to re­new the African Growth and Op­por­tu­nity Act (AGOA), Trade and In­dus­try, Co­op­er­a­tives and Mar­ket­ing (MTICM) Min­is­ter S’khu­lumi Nt­soaole has re­vealed.

AGOA is a trade pref­er­ence scheme that al­lows African coun­tries duty-free ac­cess to US mar­kets.

Mr Nt­soale, who led an African Union (AU) del­e­ga­tion to Wash­ing­ton, DC in Jan­uary to ad­vo­cate for the seam­less re­newal of AGOA ne­go­ti­ate the re­newal of AGOA, said the timely re­newal of the law was cru­cial for the ben­e­fit of se­cur­ing jobs cre­ated by AGOA in the US and other African coun­tries. He said the US stood to lose 115 thou­sand jobs if it did not timeously re­new AGOA.

The del­e­ga­tion stressed that although the dead­line for AGOA’S re­newal is set for Septem­ber 2015, there is an ur­gent need to re­new it be­fore then, as many com­pa­nies that im­port African goods must place their or­ders sev­eral months ahead of time to en­sure that their goods can be shipped to stores ac­cord­ing to sched­ule.

“It has been es­ti­mated that AGOA has cre­ated 350 thou­sand di­rect jobs and 1.3 mil­lion in­di­rect jobs in Sub-sa­ha­ran Africa, and also cre­ated 115 thou­sand jobs in Amer­ica with num­bers likely to in­crease as US and other African com­pa­nies build mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial part­ner­ships,” said Mr Nt­soale.

The min­is­ter, how­ever, ex­pressed con­fi­dence the US congress would re­new AGOA fol­low­ing the trip as the leg­is­la­ture had con­tin­u­ously com­mu­ni­cated pos­i­tively since the re­turn of the del­e­ga­tion.

“Upon re­turn­ing home, pos­i­tive re­sponses have been emailed to me from some of the congress mem­bers we met with in Wash­ing­ton,” he said. “We did our best to con­vince Congress the benefits both the US and Le­sotho have been en­joy­ing through AGOA and they agreed to en­sure it was given first pri­or­ity in sub­se­quent meet­ings.”mticm Direc­tor Mabafo­keng Ncholu added that one of the terms and con­di­tions the US set for a coun­try to qual­ify for AGOA the set­ting of a strat­egy de­tail­ing how the fa­cil­ity would be im­ple­mented bear­ing in mind a coun­try’s tar­gets.

“The strat­egy we have de­vel­oped as a coun­try is aimed at em­pow­er­ing small and medium en­ter­prises by cre­at­ing link­ages be­tween them and larger firms or for­eign in­vestors,” Ms Ncholu said.

“In this re­gard we are mov­ing fast to­wards en­sur­ing that even next time when there is no AGOA, we re­main with highly ca­pac­i­tated Smes-turned in­vestors who will en­hance the econ­omy.”

The Jan­uary visit to the US was Mr Nt­soale and his del­e­ga­tion’s third at­tempt to lobby for the speedy re­newal of the scheme. The del­e­ga­tion also con­sisted of min­is­ters from Gabon and Mau­ri­tius.

Trade Min­is­ter S’khu­lumi Nt­soaole

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