Zambia gears up to increase agro exports to US under Agoa

Zambia has engaged consultants to change the country’s dismal agriculture exports to the United States under the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa).

The deal, whose future is uncertain under President Donald Trump, is a United States Trade Act, enacted in May 2000. It has since been renewed to 2025. The act aims to significantly enhance market access to the USA by including Sub-Saharan countries like Zambia.

Currently Zambia’s exports to the USA under the deal are less than 2%. It mainly consists of horticultural and floricultural products. Trade volumes between Zambia and the United States have dropped significantly from US$131million in 2015, to US$113million in 2016, further highlighting the poor performance.

“Government has engaged the Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hub, and it is expected that consultants will assist in drawing up a national strategy which will significantly address the poor performance of Zambia’s exports to the USA and the utilisation of Agoa,” the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry said in a statement.

Under the AGOA arrangement, Zambia is eligible to export duty-free to US markets more than 6 400 tariff lines at preferential and simplified rates.

There are however questions over the future of Agoa under the Trump administration.

Local analysts say Trump has not mentioned anything substantial relating to Agoa since he took office, further fueling concern over the programme.

“Recently, President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) following his attacks on US trade deals during his campaign. This must send a signal to Agoa beneficiaries as a sign of worse things to come,” said one analyst who declined to be named.

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