AGOA renewal promising - Ntsoale
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