Tanzania requests 20-year AGOA extension

DAR ES SALAAM: TANZANIA has called for extension of African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for 20 years for the country to fully utilise all opportunities under the programme.

Minister for Industry and Trade, Dr Ashatu Kijaji made the recommendation during the general discussion on issues of concerns on AGOA in its 20th Forum held in Johannesburg, South Africa from November 2- 4 this year.

“Tanzania continues to appreciate the US government for the AGOA programme which has been very critical to us and other AGOA beneficiary countries…  the underlying fact is that we have not been able to fully utilise all opportunities under AGOA,” Dr Kijaji said.

She added: “Tanzania would like to call for a longer period of time, at least 20 years after 2025…this will ensure predictability of AGOA and encourage long term investment in African countries.

The Minister said that the longer period of time will provide certainty and predictability and allow the countries to attract significant investments.

She said ten years is a short period for serious investments which take a long time to build facilities, and by the time of starting production, you find ten years are almost ending.

Dr Kijaji further stressed the need to allow for accumulation of AGOA to all African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) signatories which would align AGOA to   the agreement to support the regional integration efforts and by so doing expand the scope of AGOA to accommodate other key issues such as Trade in Services among others.

The minister also recommended the amendment of eligibility criteria mostly on graduation to ensure that countries that have achieved a high-income status are not instantly removed from Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) and AGOA programmes, as most of the countries continue experiencing economic hardships and unemployment.

On eligibility criteria, she said Tanzania would also like to request for the adjustment of AGOA eligibility review from the current practice of annual review to at least every three years.

“This will create confidence and more time for investors to do assessment and undertake necessary corrective measures as the case may be,” she said.

The country also calls for the removal of Textile Visa requirements which adds extra process and costs in doing business under AGOA.

The theme of this year’s Forum is “Partnering to Build a Resilient, Sustainable and Inclusive AGOA to Support Economic Development, Industrialisation and Quality Job Creation.”

AGOA is a United States Trade Act, enacted on May 18, 2000 as Public Law 106 of the 200th Congress.

It is a trade deal that allows beneficiary countries in sub-Saharan Africa to export their products to the US duty-free. It was enacted in the US in 2000 to run to 2015 and renewed to 2025.

The Act originally covered the 8-year period from October 2000 to September 2008, but legislative amendments signed into law by US President George Bush in July 2004 served to extend AGOA to 2015.

Enacted in May 2000, AGOA is the cornerstone of US economic engagement with the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

The agreement provides duty-free access to the US market for eligible Sub Sahara African nations. In June 2015, the US government authorised AGOA for an additional 10 years.

It has also 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 United States duty-free.

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