The out-going US Ambassador to Ghana, Donald Teitelbaum says he is disappointed that Ghana and other African countries have not taken advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to export more goods to the US.

Mr. Teitelbaum was speaking to journalists at a roundtable discussion at the US Embassy in Accra Wednesday August 22, 2012 as he prepares to leave the country after a four year duty tour to Ghana.

AGOA was set up to allow African countries to export their products to the US duty and tariff free.

AGOA was passed into law in 2000 as part of the US government?s philosophy to engage and not to aid African countries, according to Florizelle Liser, the Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa in the Office of the US Trade Representative.

The US government describes it as the centerpiece of its trade policy with sub-Saharan Africa, and it is due to end in 2015, but it is likely to be extended for another 10 years to 2025, as exports of products from African countries to the US under the scheme reached $44 billion, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, US Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs has said.

About a year ago in June 2011, he said the total value of exports from Africa to the US had reached a total value of $65 billion and $44 billion of that value comes from exports under AGOA. However, only $4 billion of the value comes from non-oil products.

The US government, as at last year decided to maintain the number of sub-Saharan African countries eligible to trade under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) at 40.

As of June 2011, there were 37 countries, but on October 25, 2011, President Barack Obama signed a presidential proclamation designating C?te d?Ivoire, Guinea and Niger as eligible for AGOA benefits.

But Mr. Teitelbaum said he is disappointed that not many African countries had taken advantage of the Act.

?Personally, let me also express my own disappointment that most African countries have not been able to take greater advantage of AGOA. The idea of AGOA was to make the US market open to African manufactured goods. But I think that one of the mistakes is that many African countries are not producing enough manufactured goods to really take advantage of it,? he said.

He indicated that even though there has been an increase in Ghanaian exports to the US including under AGOA, he would like to see a lot more manufactured goods from Ghana going to the US.

He said there is more space for manufacturing in Ghana.

?I am hoping to see Ghana?s textiles and clothing industries boom. Ghanaians must be able to do a better job of protecting their intellectual properties in order to be able to do that,? he said.

He praised the Ghanaian?kente? and ?Adinkra? symbols and so on., saying that each time someone pirates Ghanaian products that person is taking away jobs from Ghanaians and taking food out of the mouths of many Ghanaians.

He said in the last five years trade between Ghana and the US has gone up 220%.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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