In an effort to harmonize the USAID brand across the three regional trade hubs, USAID East Africa has rebranded the Competitiveness and Trade Expansion (COMPETE) program as the USAID East Africa Trade Hub.
COMPETE Changes Name to the USAID East Africa Trade Hub
Mauritius Apparel Sector Expands
The USAID East Africa Trade Hub recently released the Mauritius National AGOA Strategy.
The strategy supports the ability of Mauritius firms to successfully
sell to the U.S. market and leverage the opportunities that the African
Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) provide.
AGOA grants preferential U.S. market access to Mauritius and other qualifying African countries. This has played a critical role in spurring Mauritius’ exports with the U.S. The textiles and apparel sector grew annually at a steady rate of 5 percent since AGOA’s adoption in 2000 and leading non-textile/ apparel exports grew annually at as much as 23 percent between 2001 and 2006, with an overall rate of 12 percent since 2001. In effect, AGOA has contributed to expand the apparel industry of Mauritius on a scale that the country would unlikely have achieved without preferential access to the U.S. market.
Read the complete Mauritius AGOA strategy here.
Origin Africa Takes Center Stage
On April 22, COMPETE took its innovative Origin Africa campaign to New York. COMPETE’s message: Africa is the New Frontier for Business.
Held in the famed Paramount Theatre at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square, the event brought together African designers, manufacturers, exporters and U.S.-based buyers and retailers for a panel discussion on how to increase commercial engagement with Africa.
From the emerging designer/entrepreneur to the large capacity exporter to the niche brand in the U.S., Africa presents huge, untapped potential. But how does one translate that opportunity to meaningful, transformational business? The answer from the panel: start small; allow the business relationships to develop; be mindful of the challenges faced in Africa (and yes, incorporate some flexibility in business planning), but with an eye to the rewards. For every large apparel factory in Kenya that is selling in volume to the U.S. under AGOA, there is a small-scale entrepreneur who is demonstrating the design capabilities and creativity of the new Africa. And these entrepreneurs are increasingly attracting the attention of U.S. brands.
Joint Border Committees on the Northern Corridor Help Traders Save MillionsMalaba is not unlike many borders in East Africa; chaotic, disorganized and slow moving with long queues at every agency window and office. If you arrive at the Malaba border in Kenya at 9:30am, you will be met with a line of over 250 semi-trucks, with license plates from half-a-dozen countries. The line extends for nearly seven kilometers. Guest houses, retail shops, hair salons, and restaurants line the streets and hawkers make their way through the congestion of double-parked trucks, overloaded motorcycles, and carts pulled by bicycles to sell flip-flops, sunglasses, t-shirts and electronics to those waiting to cross the border. It is tense and hectic as truckers scream at each other, fighting for their spot in line.
One of East Africa’s busiest borders, over 1000 trucks cross between Kenya and Uganda via Malaba each day handling roughly 40 percent of transit cargo en route to and from Mombasa from Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, South Sudan and Uganda. Deficiencies in Malaba’s soft and hard infrastructure cause complicated and uncoordinated clearance formalities that delay cargo and therefore trade. Since 2009, COMPETE has worked with the public and private sector to reduce trade time and cost through the establishment and support of Joint Border Committees (JBCs) at 16 border posts in East Africa.
JBCs are working groups made up of government agencies and private sector stakeholders involved in cross-border trade. JBCs have successfully reduced trade time and cost by promoting cooperation and transparency among border agencies, instituting joint cargo verification and promoting 24/7 operations at borders. As a result of this work in Malaba, border-crossing time has reduced from several days to several hours allowing for almost twice as many trucks to pass through the border daily. This time savings amounts to an estimated $69 million per year for transporters and traders.
Click to read a case study that answers the how and why JBCs were created and summarizes the impact they have had. here
Looking for Quality Footwear? Try Ethiopia
Ethiopian footwear is on the rise. Ethiopian footwear companies do it all – fine-dress, casual and sport footwear. Because of its fine leather and commitment to top quality, Ethiopia has become a sourcing destination for international buyers looking for high-end shoes.
At the end of February, Ethiopian Leather Industries Association (ELIA) partnered with USAID COMPETE to showcase their top-quality shoes at the MAGIC Sourcing Show in Las Vegas. Positioned alongside COMPETE’s Origin Africa booth, ELIA presented their footwear to over 50 potential U.S. clients. The Multi-billion-dollar retailer Gap is interested so are Orvis and Skechers Footwear. Harbor Imports is already on board, currently sourcing over $80,000 a month in exports from Peacock Footwear, an ELIA member.
To fulfill its mission of helping African businesses take advantage of trade opportunities available under the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), COMPETE creates valuable business networking opportunities through trade shows, trade missions, business-to-business events and conferences. The MAGIC Sourcing Show and the opportunities it generated for ELIA is a perfect example of how COMPETE works.
Read more about COMPETE’s AGOA efforts.