By Dominick Andoh

The Ministry of Trade, through the Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF), is to provide financial support to 25 selected indigenous businesses as part of efforts to grow local enterprises.

The selected businesses will be drawn from the pharmaceutical, garment and apparel, handicrafts, agribusiness and poultry sub-sectors.
The sector minister, Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, said support to the identified sub-sectors is part of a deliberate effort to boost production and enable the country to take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Agreement (AGOA), initiated by the government of the United States.

Mr. Iddrisu said entrepreneurs who employ three graduates per year, and businesses investing in agricultural and non-traditional exports, will enjoy financial support and other incentives from government.

AGOA is the US government?s signature trade initiative with sub-Saharan Africa. In 2012, eligible countries exported nearly US$35billion in products to the United States under AGOA and its related general system of preference provisions.
Total exports under AGOA have risen more than 300 percent since the programme started.

Although petroleum products accounted for 84 percent of AGOA imports to the United States in 2012, the programme has helped promote other value-added exports such as vehicles, apparel, footwear, processed agricultural products, and manufactured goods.
Non-oil exports to the United States from sub-Saharan Africa totalled US$4.7billion in 2012, rising more than 250 percent since AGOA?s inception.

Even though total exports under African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) have increased by 300%, the US government believes that extension of the deadline beyond 2015 will create bigger opportunities for African businesses.

AGOA also generated a US$13billion increase in two-way trade between 2010 and 2011, and a total of US$716.1billion since 2001.
Currently, there are thousands of products that are available under the AGOA list to enter the United States duty-free.

With more than 6,000 products receiving duty-free treatment when exported to the United States, AGOA has helped generate jobs through trade and investment opportunities during its short lifespan.

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