By Nation Reporter
THE Zambian Government is working towards maximizing benefits of the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) through capacity building for local small scale entrepreneurs following its extension in 2015, Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry permanent secretary Kayula Siame has said.
Ms Siame said the Government was in talks with the US government to provide technical assistance for Zambian cooperatives so as to enable them produce at large scale for the American market.
She observed that there was need for technical support in the technology area so as to enable Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) harness new technology, increase capacity and meet international standards.
The permanent secretary was speaking at the Zambian embassy in Washington DC, where she briefed embassy staff ahead of the AGOA forum.
Ms Siame said her ministry was working towards getting cooperatives to access financing so as to build capacity and have a competitive advantage in the AGOA market.
She added that the ministry was further looking at improving the standards of products such as honey, that were also AGOA eligible, and others already being exported so as to ensure their adherence to international standards.
Ms Siame also described the just ended US-Africa Business Forum in New York as a success.
She observed that the forum provided a platform for the Zambian delegation, headed by President Edgar Lungu, to hold bilateral meetings with key companies interested in investing in Zambia.
President Lungu met with executives of Africa Financing Corporation (AFC) which seeks to address the needs of infrastructure development on the African continent.
He also had discussions with officials of Bechtel, a top-ranked U.S company with expertise in infrastructure development, engineering and construction; Vermeer, an agricultural and industrial equipment manufacturing company; Sustainable Harvest, importers of coffee as well as Digitize-A-Nation, which specializes in satellite imagery to enable natural resource mapping.
Ms Siame was met at the embassy by chargé d’affaires, Mr. Joseph Chilaizya.
“AGOA builds on existing US trade initiatives by expanding the (duty-free) benefits previously available only under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).“Duty-free access to the US market under the combined AGOA/GSP initiative stands at approximately 7,000 product tariff lines notably apparel, footwear, wine, certain motor vehicle components, and a variety of agricultural products, chemicals and steel,” she said.On 29th June, 2015, US President Barrack Obama, signed into law the Trade Preferences Extension Act 2015, which further extends AGOA Act for another 10 years to 2025.The renewed and improved AGOA would work alongside other US initiatives such as Trade Africa, Power Africa, Feed the Future and Targeted Trade and Investment Capacity Building, to promote economic growth and expand partnerships with Africa.