U.S urges African entrepreneurs to improve products for exportation

Mnena Iyorkegh, Abuja

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The United States through its African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) progamme has urged African entrepreneurs to focus on producing standard and quality products to enable them to gain easy access into the U.S. market.

The Deputy Director, Office of Economic and Regional Affairs, Bureau of African Affairs, U.S Department of States, Elizabeth Pelletreau,  stated this at the 2019 African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) virtual program, in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

The participants included panelists, African and U.S. based entrepreneurs and audiences from Abuja, Accra and Lusaka hosted in the various U.S. embassies.

She said the meeting would avail intending exporters the opportunity to interact with entrepreneurs who had exported and sold products to the U.S. under the AGOA initiative.

“AGOA had created a good platform and opportunity for African Entrepreneurs to break into the U.S. market without paying customs and Import duty. The easiest way of building product market in the U.S. is to ensure that food and other products for exportation met the criteria of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Achieving this exporters should be consistent in the production of quality products in order to satisfy clients and remain in business

“When exporters met the required criteria and certification for products, getting clients and market base would be secondary.

 “People who are making investments to buy products from the continent and ship to the U.S. need a consistent product because they are building their market for a specified product, even if you are thinking about product like clothing, the labeled size should be same and consistent,” Pellatreau explained.

She further said this would make it easier for those marketing and selling your products in the U.S adding that 2019 was an auspicious one for the AGOA Forum as it coincided with the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).

“During this year’s AGOA forum in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, Curtis C.J Mahoney, signed a joint statement with the AU Commissioner of Trade and Industry, the signing of the document indicated the commitments of the U.S. government to the AFCTA and the success of the African trade relationship. although the commitments of the U.S. governments is important, taking advantage of AGOA by the private sector, partners and entrepreneurs would make the initiative more successful,” she stated.

The Founder and Chief Executive Officer, at Exportunity Group, Mr. Vital Sounouvou, noted that AGOA is the way forward for entrepreneurs who desire to export to the US.

“AGOA is a trade facilitation law that was passed to help African producers ship their goods to the U.S, and this happens when there is an order, and export can only take place when you have a client, who places an order for your product, when that happens, that means that there was a an information that client knew about your product and place the orders and after that there should be able to have payment moved from U.S to you.” 

“When you do the shipping is important that everybody understands what the US Government is doing through AGOA. What I do know is that, as a business, is important that you keep in mind that is for you to get to the market and get your clients, AGOA, was made for you to make it easy when you receive an order when you shipping into the U.S not to pay taxes and that is fantastic because most of the other countries in the world trading in the U.S have to pay taxes and for us Africans AGOA is the real opportunity for us to get our products out there. However, don’t wait for AGOA to do all the job for you, you have to do your fair share of what it worth because it is a business world,” he explained.

The National President African Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme AWEP, Mrs Angela Ajala, said there was the need for women to leverage the Act and export to promote their enterprises, without any challenges.

“There have been government challenges that created barriers, challenges of government not signing the treaty on time, not getting visa approver for textile in-fact we just got the approver after fifteen years. These are trade policies that are favorable to ease of doing business. Many times people think the challenge is access to finance, but I will tell you no. all we need to do is develop your product, if your product is developed up to standard, there is an open market for you” Ajala added.

One of the Panelists and Founder of Zamroot, an African Ingredient (Moringa) Company Krishma Nayee, said that investing and getting products rights and up to standard was the best way to get it right.

“In order to get these products to the shelves let alone across waters, you will need to ensure that you are meeting standards and quality and this is has do with research and AGOA is a fantastic tool that can be used but it is also important to highlight that there is a lot of barriers to entry,” Nayee said.

The forum created a platform for enlightening intending exporters and the audience on “the ABC of AGOA” and how it was a set of vital requirements for strengthening trade and investment.

It further educated intending exporters on how businesses could best utilize AGOA to increase their exports and a platform for entrepreneurs to learn strategies for maximizing AGOA’s potential

African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA is a legislation approved by the U.S. Congress in May 2000 with the aim of assisting the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and to improve economic relations between the U.S. and the region.

Peace PIAK