The United States Congress has renewed the Third Country Fabric provision of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) up to September 2015 ; and COMESA has applauded the US Senate for the move, which will enable the region to continue exports in the apparel and textile sectors.
In an interview with e-comesa Secretary-General, Mr Sindiso Ngwenya, said it is difficult to overstate the importance of this provision for the future of the US-Africa partnership.
“The COMESA region should take advantage of the extension and increase exports to the US market. The renewal of the Third Country Fabric provision has not come a moment too soon, as we had already begun to witness a decline in apparel orders due to the uncertainty of this provision’s renewal,” he said.
He added that this will help boost the textile and garments’ industries in the region as most of them were forced to reduce their labour force hence affecting many people’s incomes.
“We should now create jobs to produce more for export to the American market,” he said.
The Secretary-General has also commended the US Senate for including the Republic of South Sudan among the AGOA eligible countries especially that the region is working on developing clusters on garments and textiles.
“We also need to encourage partnerships between COMESA SMEs and those from the US so that we can have a win-win situation.”
Mr Ngwenya said there is need to have contracts regarding the AGOA which should last for at least ten years as this will give a chance to developing countries to gain from the initiative.
“We need contractual and predictable agreements that will allow us to do business with our colleagues without us having hair raising experiences on whether or not the US Senate will approve the AGOA. We need long term agreements.”
The Third Country Fabric provision has singlehandedly supported hundreds of thousands of jobs across Sub-Saharan Africa, and in the process created a burgeoning apparel industry in the continent over the years.