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Susan Muhwezi Rallies Parliament Support as AGOA Expo Kicks Off

The much anticipated African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) AGOA sensitization workshop and exhibition has officially begun today Tuesday at Parliament.

The event, spearheaded by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, attracted over 70 exhibitors.

The Senior Presidential Advisor on AGOA, Susan Muhwezi, said the expo was purposely organised to sensitize citizens about the opportunities to exploit under AGOA.

“We have a workshop that is going to go on for two days on how to access the American market but also to sensitize the parliamentarians,” said Ms Muhwezi.

“Because sometimes they don’t know, they think AGOA ended with the AGOA girls. So I think it was an important venue to create visibility,” she explained.

Besides training 1,000 girls previously, Ms Muhwezi said members of the public must know that AGOA is a private sector initiative.

AGOA was enacted into law 2000 as part of the Trade and Development Act of 2000.

Some of the Ugandan products sold on the U.S. market on display

The main aim of AGOA is to promote a two-way trade between Sub-Saharan Africa and United States and to increase US investment into Sub-Saharan Africa.

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It is among regional initiatives in United States trade policy that are based on the general philosophy of “Trade not Aid” as the chief tool of promoting economic development.

Ms Muhwezi recently said that in 2017, AGOA attracted US$ 82million and US$ 53 million in 2008 in exports to America.

“In 2018, the figures, however, went down to US$ 40 million. This performance is dismal compared to other African countries that are making billions from AGOA,” said Ms Muhwezi.

Ms Muhwezi inspecting products on stalls during the exhibition

She called for prioritization of AGOA through funding of the line ministries including that of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries as well as that of Trade.

Kadaga, who is leading a campaign aimed at creating awareness about the opportunities provided by the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA, said the exhibition and workshop is timely because many Ugandans are not aware of the benefits of AGOA and how to access them.

“Uganda can take advantage of the 8,000 products that can be exported to the United States of America,” Kadaga said.

The African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) expo opened today at Parliament

The chairperson of the AGOA Exporters Association of Uganda, Meg Hilbert Jacquay assured that accessing AGOA is not difficult and is open to everyone.

“As long as one has products that meet the international market needs, they can be exported. We need to end the notion that AGOA is dead, we are very much alive in Uganda,” said Hilbert Jacquay.

She encouraged Ugandans to take advantage of the need for fresh foods in the American market.

“There is no fresh food allowed in the US because no one has asked. If Uganda is interested especially in exporting avocado, there is a huge opportunity that lies in exporting fresh foods to America,” said Hilbert Jacquay.

Ankole lawmakers

Speaker Kadaga seated receives a milk gourd from Nathan Itungo, the caucus chairman

Meanwhile, legislators from the western Ankole region have joined the chorus of those welcoming back Kadaga from sickness.

Led by Hon. Nathan Itungo, the Kashari South legislator, MPs handed Kadaga bunches of Matooke, an Ankole cow, a bouquet of flowers, an autographed card as well as other cultural regalia.

This caucus brings together all legislators from the ten districts of Ntungamo, Isingiro, Mitooma, Ibanda, Mbarara, Bushenyi and Kiruhuura among others.

On her part, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga who was visibly overwhelmed with joy thanked members.

“When Hon. Itungo came to me, I thought that they would be coming with 10 flowers. What I have seen today is very overwhelming. They have given me a cow for milk, this is wealth. Now I am going to be richer. Thank you for your support, commitment and love,” she intimated.

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