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Benchmarks needed to measure success of trade, say delegates

By | August 7th 2009

By John Oyuke

The Eighth African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) Forum ended Thursday, with an agreement to set clear targets and benchmarks in terms of success.

Delegates agreed that there should be measurable indicators and a follow-up mechanism to monitor and track progress of implementation.

Trade minister, Amos Kimunya said the forum agreed on a mid-term review, and asked US to support the process.

The forum also agreed on the need to engage US administration and Congress on a permanent and predictable Agoa framework that should be enhanced and expanded to include currently excluded agricultural and textile products of interest to Sub-Saharan Africa.

"There is need for targeted resources from the United States to support ongoing regional integration initiatives in Africa and clearly earmarked regional development projects especially those geared towards addressing supply side-constraints," Kimunya said.

Significant Initiative

He was presenting a summary report of the United States - Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum, which ended at Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC).

Kimunya observed that the Agoa legislation remains the most significant initiative between the US and the Sub-Saharan African region, which has now matured into a partnership. To strengthen the partnership, the forum urged US to institute targeted tax incentives for its companies investing in Africa to help attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the continent.

"The US should recognise that investments by US companies in Africa do not constitute the exportation of American jobs, but constitute a contribution to Africa’s growth and development as well as America’s own growth and prosperity," the forum reiterated.

Kimunya said it was also the view of participants at the three-day forum that US should extend the Agoa Third Country Fabric Provision beyond 2012, and include other eligible Agoa beneficiary countries that currently do not benefit from the provision.

The provision allows exporters of textiles and apparels to the US under the Agoa framework to source for fabric outside the country of origin. He however said this should not to disadvantage lesser developed, beneficiary Sub-Saharan Africa countries. The forum also recommended that the US reduce subsidies, specifically on cotton, in an ambitious and expeditious manner as mandated by the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration.

"The forum urges the US government to ensure that Agoa beneficiary countries are not put at disadvantage especially with regards to the textiles and apparel sector," Kimunya said in the report.

The forum also agreed to address constraints affecting women entrepreneurs, including dedicating certain percentage of the trade finance and donor funds to women and address issues that limit access to loan such as collaterals.

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