Botswana fast-tracks efforts to benefit from AGOA

Botswana fast-tracks efforts to benefit from AGOAGABORONE – Botswana has finalised its Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) National Response Strategy and a date for the launch is yet to be announced.

Assistant Minister of Trade and Industry Biggie Butale said during a women leadership forum in Gaborone that the strategy has been endorsed by his ministry in consultations with the AGOA National Reference Group, which is made up of stakeholders from government and the private sector. He said the strategy has identified potential sectors, for export to the United States (US) market under the Act.

The assistant minister explained that it also includes an elaborate implementation matrix detailing specific sector based actions and activities to be undertaken for its effective implementation adding that all the activities which are to be undertaken by the different stakeholders have been costed.

“It requires detailed technical assessment of each identified export potential sector, in terms of establishing production capacity and competitiveness of the Botswana industry as well as the demand and requirements of the US market,” he said.

Butale called on youth and women to ensure that they are counted among beneficiaries saying that once the beneficiation program is ready they should be able to roll out their world class manufactured goods to the American market.

“Let me urge manufactures especially the youth and women to produce goods and commodities of high standards as American markets are very particular about the kind, type and standards of products they will pay for. Your goods and products would enter the United States of America market duty free and quota free,” said Butale.

Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade Peggy Serame said the strategy would help local businesses grow by taking advantage of AGOA provision of duty-free exports to the USA.

Serame who was speaking during the official opening of the new USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub office in Gaborone, that it will help improve productivity and facilitate robust regional trade and global market access.

She revealed that the strategy would focus on the beef, textile, arts and craft, as well as jewelry sectors.

Through the strengthened collaboration, Serame said, Botswana envisions trade arrangement with the USA that would foster increased foreign investment for both goods and services during the implementation of the AGOA National response and beyond 2025.

“The new hub will continue to work with the Ministry to break down barriers to trade in order to increase exports, achieve regional economic integration, increase uptake in utilisation of the AGOA by Botswana businesses,” said Serame.

Serame pointed that the non-reciprocal preferential treatment offered by AGOA to export goods duty-free to the US market does not only provide Botswana with an opportunity to increase the export volumes and value, but also serves as a tool to take the country’s industrialisation efforts to another level through developing the value chains of the identified AGOA potential sectors.

For his part, USAID Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub deputy chief of party, Malvern Rusike said their office would help local businesses with the utilisation of financial institutions, identify gaps and assist with capacity building towards effective delivery in terms of supporting the Small Medium Enterprises (SME)s as they are usually weak in terms of getting financing.

According to Rusike, the strategy has identified the priority areas, the policies that must be used as well as the opportunities that exist hence the reason that in this term the strategy has identified the following sectors are priority; beef, textiles, arts and craft, as well as jewelry.