MAPUTO– The Mozambican government has recognized that the country has failed to take full advantage of the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), a United States law under which a wide range of goods from qualified sub-Saharan countries can enter the US market free of tariffs and quotas.

Speaking at the launch of a strategy to make greater use of AGOA in the period 2018-2025, Industry and Trade Minister Ragendra de Sousa said that currently only two per cent of Mozambique’s total exports go to the US, a very low percentage compared with exports of other countries in the region which also benefit from AGOA access.

The new strategy, he added, would emphasize measures to ensure that Mozambican businesses know about and understand AGOA, plus a range of actions aimed at increasing exports overall.

Specific sectors and products which could benefit from AGOA will be identified and the government will use all available resources to support implementation and dissemination of the strategy so that Mozambican companies may take better advantage of AGOA in coming years.

Preferential trade mechanisms such as AGOA, Sousa said, arise from the belief that developing countries cam free themselves from strong dependence on exports of goods with low added value. However, this has not yet happened and the exports of developing countries remain concentrated in raw materials.

US Ambassador to Mozambique Dean Pittman told the meeting that commercial incentives to gain access to the American market will lead to increased investment in Africa, creating more jobs and economic opportunities for all.

Although AGOA dates from 2000, and has been extended until 2025 after its expiry in 2015, figures from the US indicate that only one million out of 100 million US dollars worth of Mozambican exports to the US have benefited from tariff-free access granted under AGOA.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has worked with the Mozambican government to develop the new export strategy. The sectors to be prioritized include textiles and clothing, specialist and processed foods (such as cashew nuts, macadamia nuts, shelled almonds, peas and cane molasses), and precious metals.