By Kabbs Kanu and Pasco Temple :
Hon. Ali Badara Mansaray, Sierra Leone’s Deputy Trade Minister, has supported the re-authorization of the United States – Africa Trade and Economic cooperation forum beyond 2015.
The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) were signed into law on May 18,2000 as Title 1 of the Trade and Development Act 2000, and in August 2002 President George Bush signed amendment to AGOA and substantially expands preferential access for imports from beneficiary Sub-Saharan African Countries including Sierra Leone.
Henry Kamara (Left ) and Alie Mansaray (Right )
Speaking during the Civil Society Organization Session of the 13th AGOA Forum at the FHI 360 Conference Center on 1825 Connecticut Avenue Saturday, August 2nd 2014, Hon. Ali Badara Mansaray said AGOA offers tangible incentives for African Countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build markets.
MR. ALIE MANSARAY
He said AGOA provides reforming African Countries with the most liberal access to the United States market and has expanded the list of products which eligible sub – Saharan African Countries may export to the United States, subject to zero duty under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP),while general System of Preferences (GSP) covers approximately Four Thousand Six Hundred (4,600) items available to any Country or region with which the United States does not have a free Trade Agreement .
The session saw several high profiled US government officials including Chairman Ed Royce , the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, applauding the Civil Society and encouraging them to work toward being the best for themselves , the United States and for Africa. The United States Trade Representative, Michael Froman , said that “we need to consider the way ahead and how different tools from unilateral preference program, to reciprocal trade agreements –might evolve to be used with different partners to help us achieve our goals of broad based economic growth and prosperity. Ambassador Linda Thomas Greenfield, Assistant Secretary , Bureau For African Affairs US Department of State, did not only reiterate the willingness and readiness of the US government to continue doing business in Africa, but was very categorical in saying that it is China that is chasing the United States business tie with Africa. She urged African Countries to improve the quality of their products and expand productivity.
According to Florizelle Liser United States Trade Representative for Africa office of the US Trade Representative, AGOA has significantly affected trade partnership between Africa and US in a positive way.
Other members of the Sierra Leone delegation made contributory statements. Mr. Sama Banya , Senior Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Aviation, spoke on the effects of congested Sea Ports and the need for expansion. Mr. Henry Yamba Kamara, Managing Director of Sierra Leone Producing Marketing Company, spoke on the need to improve and expand production on the part of African producers to meet the criteria of AGOA. Dr. Andrew Turay called for more action on both sides of the isle ; Mr. Franklyn Williams, Deputy Director Sierra Leone Business Forum Ltd, questioned the bleak picture being painted on the African Market by other producers and expressed optimism for reforms on the private Sector , while Maureen Aboko Cole , the CEO Palmiras catering and Ms. Ayodele Wak-Williams CEO/MD Private Sector , all made their respective contributions.
On Monday August 4, 2014, The Deputy Trade Minister , Hon. Alie Badara Mansaray, in the company of Deputy Secretary Mr. Gilbert Cooper, joined more than forty eight Trade Ministers in attending the AGOA’S Ministerial Conference at the 1818 Street North West Washington DC World Bank office where nearly the same sentiments were expressed by Secretary of State Hon. John Kerry.