Uganda equips exporters with skills to capture US market

Ugandan traders and entrepreneurs intending to export various products to the US will benefit from the latest programme aimed at equipping them with the necessary skills to compete at the international level.

Odrek Rwabwogo, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Exports and Industrial Development (PACEID), said the latest training will be undertaken with guidance from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

AGOA is a trade preference programme established in 2000 as part of broader legislation that President Bill Clinton enacted to strengthen US trade ties with Africa and the Caribbean.

“We proudly launched the US Export Preparedness Training led by the highly regarded Dr. Chuiri Robert, an AGOA certified trainer. This initiative is a critical stride towards equipping Ugandan exporters with the necessary insights to conquer the US market,” Rwabwogo said after the launch of the programme on August 14.

“Ensuring our products meet market standards is paramount in global trade,” he said, adding that he would work closely with Nicholas Burunde, UNDP Representative; Olivier Kamanzi, Ugandan Trade Representative for North America; Henrietta Wamala, President of the Uganda North American Association, and Cody Lorance, Ugandan Trade Representative in Chicago for coffee.

According to the Presidential Advisor – Special Duties, “Our mission will be to ensure compliance, quality, and readiness.”

“As we embark on this journey, let’s stand ready to embrace the challenges and opportunities the US market offers. The journey to successful exports starts with preparation, and this training is our compass,” he added.

Exporters getting organized, trade improves

Already hundreds of Ugandan exporters to the US are hopeful they will realise more profits if they organize themselves into one association.

Uganda is already exporting an array of products to the US under AGOA.  

For instance, over the last three years where the world was forced into hibernation by COVID-19, Uganda registered positive growth in its exports to the US. The Americans consumed more coffee, crafts, vanilla, chocolate, tea, textile and dried fruits than they did before the pandemic.

In 2018/19 Uganda’s AGOA exports to US were valued at $1 million, which grew to $3.4 million a year later. By the end of 2021, the AGOA products exported to the US by Uganda rose to $5.1 million.

But Stephen Asiimwe, the Executive Director of Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), opines that this foreign earning could grow by leaps and bounds if companies and individuals in Uganda formed an association.

At a recent meeting with AGOA exporters, Asiimwe reiterated the need for the formation of an association which should later be registered under the PSFU for possible technical and financial support.

Local media reported that PSFU promised “to support them with financial assistance which will enable the exporters to solve/ handle the issues of quantity and quality”. This financial assistance would help the exporters in terms of value-addition in order to compete in the American market.

Asiimwe’s proposal got support from exporters as they said there is much more to earn from the American market.

“AGOA is a fantastic opportunity. But we haven’t taken full advantage of it yet,” said Teddy Ruge, an exporter of value added Moringa products.

The Act which was passed in 2000 by the US Congress, provides an opportunity to sub-Saharan Africa to engage in preferential trade access by allowing countries in the region to export tariff-free products to the US.

Under the AGOA profiles, “Uganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, substantial reserves of recoverable oil, and small deposits of copper, gold, and other minerals. Agriculture is one of the most important sectors of the economy, employing 72% of the work force.”

Some of the products listed under AGOA include: include coffee, leather products such as bags and shoes, shea butter, crafts, coffee and dairy products, casein, fish, vanilla, dried fruits, cocoa, essential oils, natural extracts, spices and floriculture.

Already the Government of Uganda has developed standards for these products that rhyme with the American standards.

The Ministry of Trade’s principal commercial officer, Mr Francis Kuluo, said the quality of products was being taken care of.
“Quality…is an important market requirement. And we have been working on it since 2018. We have since developed standards for many if not all our products, including crafts. We have also reduced standards and certification costs with a view to grow our exports,” he told local media.

According to Kuluo, the current AGOA deal expires in 2025 but President Joe Biden has already indicated that it be extended to 2035. This gives an opportunity to investors and exporters to prepare more products and embrace the American market which has given Africa and Uganda an opportunity to export more than 6,000 products.

Related Posts