AGOA, Veritable Win-Win Trade Avenue!

By Godlove BAINKONG, Cameroon Tribune, 04-08-2014
Statistics show that Cameroon’s exports to the USA progressed by over 20 per cent in 2013.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA, legislation approved by the U.S. Congress in May 2000 to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and to improve economic relations between the United States and the region,
has served as a springboard for win-win trade over the years. This is more so as it defines the U.S.-Africa commercial relationship, allowing for an average of around 70 per cent of all imports from Sub-Saharan Africa to enter the U.S. duty-free since the enactment of the legislation.
As the first-ever U.S.-Africa Summit convened by the President of the United States of America goes on in Washington DC, Cameroon and the rest of the continent  will among others be certainly seeking ways of strengthening ties with the U.S. so as to tap maximum benefits from the economic window widely opened by AGOA.
Between 2009 and 2012, Cameroon exported 598,500 metric tons of varied products to the USA to the tune of FCFA 250 billion. These included hydrocarbon products, cocoa and its by-products, rubber, wood, coffee, tea, tobacco and alcoholic beverages. Meanwhile, America fed Cameroon within the same period with 256,736 metric tons of goods like hydrocarbons, vehicles, tractors and other machines, cereals and organic chemical products amounting to FCFA 371.903 billion.
Statistics show that Cameroon’s exports to the USA progressed by over 20 per cent in 2013.
Information garnered on the website of the American embassy in Yaounde on the U.S.-Cameroon indicates that Cameroon is currently America’s 113th largest goods trading partner with $698 million (about FCFA 341 billion) in total (import and export) goods trade in 2013. Goods exported totaled $331 million (about FCFA 162 billion) and goods imported totaled $367 million (about FCFA 179 billion). But Cameroon could do better given that of the 6,400 products concerned with the legislation, the country is only involved in less than 20.
The two countries have been multiplying strategies for a mutually-beneficial trade within the AGOA legislation. There is for instance an Enhanced AGOA Resource Centre in Douala which helps Cameroonian exports of textiles, handicrafts, pepper, and other agricultural products to meet international standards. There is also an AGOA committee chaired by the Secretary General at the Prime Minister’s office which seeks to assist companies meet American standards with their export produce.
Added to all what is being done to reap maximum benefits from the legislation, analysts believe there is need  to fully engage the private sector, develop more formal and informal public-private partnerships and expand the use of technology. Strengthening democracy, governance and the business environment as well as improving infrastructure, increasing capacity building to better meet international standards and addressing non-tariff barriers must not also be neglected if maximum economic gains must be harvested from the legislation.


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