Ahead of Sierra Leone’s U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) strategy launch, two Trade Hub-hosted workshops for national officials focused on AGOA standards and other customs procedures. The Freetown trainings, hosted on November 15 and 16, attracted participants from Sierra Leone’s Department of Foreign Trade, the Executive Office of the Permanent Secretary, and the Department of Domestic Commerce and Trade at the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
“Sierra Leone has real competiveness in agribusiness,” said Mr. Hashim Bakar, from the Executive Office of the Permanent Secretary, at the November 15 event. “If these products can be further processed in the country, [Sierra Leone] can create more jobs and increase foreign currency earnings.” He added, however, that Sierra Leonean businesses need to learn more about quality, standards, packaging, and labelling requirements for U.S. buyers.
Dr. Mohamed Abou iiana, the Trade Hub’s Senior AGOA Specialist, taught 16 participants about maximizing the benefits of the AGOA before its 2025 expiration. During the training, he also delved into rules of origin, certificates of origin, value addition, customs clearance, export logistics, and U.S. customs declaration procedures.
On November 16, four newly-nominated AGOA visa stamp signatories from the Sierra Leone National Revenue Authority learned about the customs documentation required to export to U.S. markets under the AGOA. The workshops provided AGOA education—visa number, visa grouping, quantity, signature, and date of issuance standards—and information about textile certificates of origin, grouping rules, and the third country fabric waiver.
“The workshop was an eye-opening experience for the officers,” remarked Officer Sahid Conteh, Commissioner at the Custom Service Department. “However, we will learn more from practice when more exports go from Sierra Leone to the U.S.”
Sierra Leone’s national AGOA strategy aims to harness all of its resources to find solutions to challenges that hamper exports to United States markets.