In a recent post, we shared information about opportunities that exist for African exporters to access the US market. Using the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programs, African exporters can have their products enter the US market duty-free. This gives them a cost advantage over competitors who may have had to pay the import tax, or duty, on the same product.
As a result of AGOA, US-African trade grew by more than 500 per cent between 2001 and 2011. Unfortunately, most of this growth occurred in the oil sector and was dominated by three countries – Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa – the origin of about 80% of sub-Saharan African exports to the United States during this period.
Textiles and apparel have been another growth sector. According to recent reports, Kenya’s textile exports to the United States increased by about 23% between 2010 and 2011, making it the United States’ 103rd-largest supplier of textiles. Food exports are also a potential growth area for African exporters to the US market. Shoe exports from Ethiopia increased by more than ten times to nearly US$7 million between 2011 and 2012. However, African exporters to the U.S. face complex rules in these sectors, particularly when using the AGOA or GSP programs.
Several resources are available to assist African exporters to improve their ability to use the AGOA and GSP programs to increase their exports to the United States:
- USAID Trade Hubs provide direct assistance to African exporters in East Africa, West Africa, and southern Africa.
- African women entrepreneurs have the opportunity to participate on business exchanges to the United States through the African Women Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) run by the US State Department. Alumni of these exchange programs have formed in-country chapters to create a network of women African exporters and African women entrepreneurs.
- US-African Development Foundation (USADF) is a US government agency that operates in 20 countries to support African-designed and African-driven solutions in conflict and post-conflict communities. USADF invites applications from small African exporters seeking access to the US market.
For assistance with understanding and conforming to US import laws you can: