The Ivorian Ministry of Commerce — in collaboration with the USAID West Africa Trade and Investment Hub project (Trade Hub) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) — launched an AGOA National Strategy for the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, October 30 in Abidjan. The document was formulated based on priority sectors such as the clothing and textile, agribusiness, and crafts sectors which have high potential for exporting to the U.S. market.
The occasion, which brought together stakeholders in the development process, organizations and interested institutions to present the finalized document, marked a significant step forward in improving the competitiveness of Ivorian companies and strengthening the win-win partnership between Côte d’Ivoire and the United States.
Officially initiated in August 2016, the strategy formulation process entailed identifying through strategic workshops, the opportunities, constraints and potential solutions in accessing the U.S. market through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The action plan clarifies and setsthe structured framework that supports the national strategy, while defining roles of partner organizations as well as monitoring and evaluation modalities.
The launch was hosted by H.E. Mr. Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Prime Minister and Minister of Budget & State Portfolio of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and was chaired by H.E. Mr. Souleymane Diarrassouba, Minister of Commerce, Handicrafts and SME Promotion. High-profile guests included H.E. Ms. Katherine Brucker, Chargée d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Côte d’Ivoire and Mr. Janvier Litse, Africa Director General of the African Development Bank.
On average, CFA 550 billion (approximately $1 billion) worth of merchandise has been exported per year since 2012 to the United States. These exports only cover raw products from traditional sectors such as cocoa, natural rubber, coffee and hydrocarbons. The statistics also show that most of the exported products have not benefited from AGOA. For example, in 2016, only 5 per cent of all exports to the U.S. benefited from duty-free admission.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been working with the Ivorian government and the private sector through the Trade Hub project, which has lent support to the Ivorian economy through several interventions. Through a USAID grant, the Trade Hub established and operates an AGOA Resource Center, housed within APEX-CI, which enables exporters to better understand the regulations and procedures of exporting to the United States. The project has also built capacity of local small and medium-sized enterprises to access bank financing, develop export marketing plans and improve their management systems, and has worked to eliminate constraints on business operations and other barriers to trade.
In opening remarks, H.E. Mrs. Katherine Brucker said that while these actions had contributed to better preparing companies to access the U.S. market, it was important to put in place “a formal tool that would serve as a basis for this work” hence the significance of the development of the AGOA National Strategy for Côte d’Ivoire.