The US Ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac, has said Uganda has not taken full advantage of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Uganda is one of 38 African countries eligible for tariff-free and quota-free access to the US market. AGOA allows over 6,000 products to be exported to America.
The AGOA arrangement has been in place for close to eighteen years but there are concerns that Uganda has not fully exploited this preferential trade opportunity.
Ambassador Malac in an interface with journalists at the US Embassy in Kampala raised the same concern.
A 2015 study by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) blamed the failure by Uganda to tap into AGOA on what it called a home-grown problem. The study lead led by Dr. Alex Ijjo, a senior EPRC Research Fellow, pointed out lack of competitiveness and unsupported environment.
The researchers said Uganda’s production is characterised by the use of basic technologies, little control over production conditions, high costs of electricity, high cost of finance and infrastructural deficiencies among others.
They also said there was no clear strategy on AGOA, adding that even after the government had set up the Export-Led Growth Strategy Unit (ELGSU) to expedite export related issues, a number of challenges continue to haunt the initiative.