Uganda is working on a plan to increase its exports to the US through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) in the next five years.
Under Agoa, a US trade legislation enacted in May 2000, sub-Saharan African countries export more than 6,000 different products duty free.
The Act originally covered an eight-year period from October 2000 to September 2008, but legislative amendments signed into law by former US president George Bush in July 2004 extended Agoa to 2015. The legislation was further extended to 2025.
Trade, Industry and Co-operatives Minister Amelia Kyambadde told The EastAfrican that the new strategy is aimed at streamlining Uganda’s Agoa business.
“We have been engaged in Agoa but we didn’t have a strategy. People didn’t know who to work with or the quality and standards of goods to export,” Ms Kyambadde said.
Uganda currently lags behind Kenya and Tanzania in exports to the US.
In 2017 Kenya’s exports were worth $454 million, Tanzania’s were $145 million, Uganda’s $108 million and Rwanda exported just $66 million’s worth.
“Once we engage the small and medium enterprises and train them, we shall be looking at over $200 million per annum,” Ms Kyambadde said.
Initially, Uganda sought to leverage garments as a key export, but a project established for that purpose flopped after allegations of corruption and mismanagement. The government had invested $11 million in the project.
“In the new strategy, we are looking at priority commodities to take to America, what mode of transport to use, how to penetrate their market, the preferences of that market, and how they want their goods packaged,” Mrs Kyambadde said.
The strategy identified crafts, spices, coffee, and casein as the main preferences of the US market that the government seeks to concentrate on.