The U.S through its African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) progamme has urged Africa-based entrepreneurs to focus on producing standard and quality products to enable them to gain easy access to the U.S. market.
Elizabeth Pelletreau, Deputy Director, Office of Economic and Regional Affairs, Bureau of African Affairs, U.S Department of States, made this known on Wednesday during a tele-conference at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja.
AGOA is a legislation approved by the U.S. Congress in May 2000 with the aim of assisting the economies of sub-Saharan African and to improve economic relations between the U.S. and the region.
Participants of the conference call included panelists, African and U.S. based entrepreneurs and audiences from Abuja, Accra and Lusaka hosted in the various U.S. embassies.
Pelletreau said that the telephonic conference call would avail intending exporters the opportunity to interact with entrepreneurs who had exported and sold products to the U.S. under the AGOA initiative.
Pelletreua said that AGOA had created a good platform and opportunity for African Entrepreneurs to break into the U.S. market without paying customs and Import duty.
She said that the easiest way of building product market in the U.S. was to ensure that food and other products for exportation met the criteria of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
She further urged exporters to be consistent in the production of quality products in order to satisfy clients and remain in business.
Pellatreau explained that when exporters met the required criteria and certification for products, getting clients and market base would be secondary.
“People who are making the investments to buy products from the continent to ship them to the U.S. really need a consistent product because they are building their market for a specification for a product.
“So even if you are thinking about things like clothing, if it is labeled for the same size, that should be the size consistently.
“That would make it easier for those marketing and selling your products in the U.S.,” Pelletreau said.
Pelletreau said that this year was an auspicious one for the AGOA Forum as it coincided with the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).
She said that during this year’s AGOA forum in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, Curtis C.J Mahoney, signed a joint statement with the AU Commissioner of Trade and Industry.
Pelletreau said that signing the document further indicated the commitments of the U.S. government to the AFCTA and the success of the African trade relationship.
She added that although the commitments of the U.S. and governments was important, taking advantage of AGOA by the private sector, partners and entrepreneurs would make the initiative more successful.
Krishma Nayee, one of the Panelists and Founder of Zamroot, an African Ingredient (Moringa) Company said that investing in 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.
“It has been about 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 discussion 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 utilise AGOA to increase their exports and a platform for entrepreneurs to learn strategies for maximizing AGOA’s potential.