Kenya urges U.S. to relax rules of origin requirements under AGOA

09:37, June 10, 2011      

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A senior Kenyan government official said here Thursday that there was need for the U.S. government to relax the rules of origin requirements for African products under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) initiative.

The AGOA initiative came into effect in the year 2000 and provides for duty free entry of products from 37 sub-Saharan African states into the U.S. market. Theses countries were eligible to export about 6,000 products to the U.S. market duty free.

But some of the countries have not been able to utilize the initiative fully because of stringent requirements needed by the U. S. government such as rules of origin and phytosanitary requirements among others.

Japhet Kareke Mbiuki, Kenya's assistant minister of agriculture, said in an interview with Xinhua that the U.S. government should treat all the 37-eligible countries as "one" so that all the countries were able to fully utilize the AGOA facility instead of classifying them. "The country of origin requirement should be relaxed. This is because we realize that some of our nations may be disadvantaged. They should not classify us but should look at us as one," he said on the sidelines of the AGOA Forum in Lusaka.

While acknowledging that Kenya had been able to benefit extensively from the AGOA initiative because of its vast textile sector, the Kenyan assistant minister said other countries have been unable to fully benefit because of supply-side constraint which needed to be addressed.

"Africa has not responded well to the AGOA facility. This is because there have been severe challenges such as lack of capacity which needed to be tackled. There has been no necessary support for us to fully benefit from AGOA," he added.

Meanwhile, he called on African nations to become self- sufficient instead of depending on outside assistance. "AGOA is not permanent and that is why we need to build our own capacities and become self-sufficient," he added.

Source: Xinhua
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