Benin prepares for duty-free apparel exports to the U.S.

Trade Hub AGOA Specialist Mr. Kara Diallo trained 16 Beninois customs officers on how to use the AGOA visa stamp. Photo credit: Mr. Kara Diallo, Trade Hub.

Benin took the necessary steps toward duty-free exporting for clothing with an August 29 training of senior customs officials in standard operating systems of the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

In June, the Trade Hub’s AGOA Specialist Mr. Kara Diallo trained officials on AGOA and afterward urged the customs administration and the Ministry of Commerce to designate authorized officials to sign the AGOA visa. He also asked that the stamp be made available at both the Cotonou port and airport.Though eligible to export garments and textiles to the U.S. duty-free under AGOA since 2004, Benin has not exported much due to a nonfunctional AGOA visa system, the Trade Hub found during a November 2016 scoping mission.

In August, Mr. Diallo trained a class of 16, including the newly designated signatories in how to use the stamp and other senior customs officials on AGOA standard operating procedures, such as issuing the textile visa.

Mr. Sacca Boco Charles Inoussa, Director General of Benin Customs, thanked the Trade Hub for its continued support to Benin.

“Customs will effectively play its role in this process by applying all the knowledge acquired at this training to increase Benin’s textile exports to the U.S,” Mr. Inoussa added.

Following this training, Mr. Diallo and a USAID/Benin delegation led by the Mission Director, Mr. Jonathan Richter discussed with Mr. Inoussa the next steps for the textile visa system to become fully operational in Benin. Customs also produced a new AGOA visa stamp to be used for the country’s next apparel export.

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