More than 70 Malian producers, processors and exporters attended a two-day exporters’ workshop in the capital city of Bamako. The March 1-2 workshop was the latest in the Trade Hub’s outreach and information series on the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Though a number of the country’s major exports—including gold, cereals, and vegetables—are eligible for AGOA’s duty-free benefits when shipped to the U.S., Mali has not maximized the full benefits of the program, officials said.
“Today’s workshop is undoubtedly an opportunity to learn export procedures towards the U.S market and to receive useful information in terms of access to finance,” Secretary General of the Ministry of Commerce, Mr. Adama Yoro Sidibe, said in opening remarks.
Participants made a number of recommendations, including a call for the Malian government to start implementing the country’s national AGOA strategy, which was designed in 2016. The strategy focuses on developing the textiles, clothing and furniture industries, increasing the volume and value of exports of handicrafts, particularly leather, Arabic gum and shea butter and diversifying exports of mining products, sesame, fruit trees (tamarind for example) and hides and skins.
Participants also called on the government to reapply for the AGOA textile visa which was lost in 2012 due to a change in government, and collaborate with the Hub to establish an AGOA Trade Resource Center (ATRC) at the country’s export agency, l’Agence pour la promotion des exportations au Mali (APEX-Mali).
The Trade Hub’s AGOA Specialist, Mr. Kara Diallo, gave three presentations explaining AGOA’s preferential treatment status, eligibility criteria for countries and products, documentation and procedures. He also detailed quality standards, packaging and FDA registration requirements to access the U.S market.
Diallo and a representative from Mali’s Ministry of Industry, Mr. Mahia Aklinine, also explained regional trading advantages under the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS), which allows manufacturers and processors to trade within all 15 West Africa member states without paying customs duties.
The Hub’s financial advisor, Mr. Ousmane Traore from ADG Consulting, also took participants through the Hub’s approach to assist West African businesses to access finance for growth and expansion.