Ahead of Sierra Leone’s U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) strategy launch, the Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture
Ahead of Sierra Leone’s U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) strategy launch, the Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Partnership with USAID hosted Training on July 10 and September 12, 2018, at the boardroom of the Chambers’ Secretariat and Beccles – Davies Memorial Hall respectively. The workshop and training focused on Customs documentation and export procedures, shipping, quality, standards, costing, packaging and labeling requirements for US buyers. This was done to lay a solid foundation that will enable Export Ready Companies (ERC) access US market and other countries with ease.
The training attracted 107 participants in total for the two events.Facilitators included representatives from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Sierra Leone Port Authority, National Shipping Company (SLNSC), Standards Bureau, Customs and Excise Department of the National Revenue Authority and Mr. Henry Adundant Kargbo of the University of Makeni (UNIMAK)
In her welcome address, The SLCCIA/AGOA Coordinator Madam Ayodele Wak-Williams welcomed all participants to the workshop and assured them of an educative and interactive session. Mr. Christopher Forster, President of the Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture advised that the Private Sector is losing out from the AGOA trade facilities and benefits and therefore needs clarification on the way forward for implementation soonest.
Mr. Abu Bangura is the General Manager of the Sierra Leone Ports Authority. He explained to the participants the functions of Queen Elizabeth’s the 2nd Quay and their cordial working relationship with Shipping Companies and Customs Department. He informed the audience on the progress being made in transforming the Port into a Trans-shipment Hub and plans for the installation of CCTV cameras in strategic areas within the port vicinity to boost security.
In her presentation, Mrs. Fatu Marie Conteh of the Sierra Leone National Shipping Company explained the various services SLNSC offers which included but not limited to Clearing and forwarding of goods, container services amongst others. She further extended an invitation to potential exporters to visit their office at Cline Town for any additional information they may require. She emphasized the importance of correct documentation, certification, and weighing of goods to avoid delays in the clearance and exportation of their products.
Mr. James Dumbuya of Standards Bureau explained their company’s role in supporting ERC’s; the importance of ensuring that products meet International Standards fit for human consumption and encouraged exporters to comply with the Terms & Conditions before certification.
Mr. Kpana Conteh from the National Revenue Authority, Customs Department, spoke on the various documents that are required for export namely: commercial invoice, packing list certificate of Origin, Customs examination, scanning and stamp release of goods to be shipped.
Mr. David Ngauja of the Union Trust Bank spoke about the various principles involved in operating a successful business entity and their support to MSMEs (Micro Small Medium Enterprises) in terms of access to finance with soft loans available in the various business categories.
Mr. Henry Adundant Kargbo of the University of Makeni (UNIMAK) outlined the procedures involved in Costing, Pricing, and Productivity and how it’s important for exporters to minimize cost in order to maximize profit.
Dr. Mohamed Abou iiana, the Trade Hub’s Senior AGOA Specialist, taught 16 participants about maximizing the benefits of the AGOA before its 2025 expiration. During the training, he also delved into rules of origin, certificates of origin, value addition, customs clearance, export logistics, and U.S. customs declaration procedures.
On November 16, four newly-nominated AGOA visa stamp signatories from the Sierra Leone National Revenue Authority learned about the customs documentation required to export to U.S. markets under the AGOA. The workshops provided AGOA education—visa number, visa grouping, quantity, signature, and date of issuance standards—and information about textile certificates of origin, grouping rules, and the third country fabric waiver.
Sierra Leone is currently developing its national AGOA strategy which aims to harness all of its resources to find solutions to challenges that hamper exports to United States markets.