US Grants Gambia the AGOA Textile Visa

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The United States Government has granted The Gambia a textile visa, which allows the country to export textile and garment products to the U.S. duty free and quota free under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). News of the much-awaited textile visa was contained in a letter sent to the Secretary of State for Trade, Industry and Employment, Honourable Abdou Colley, from the United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Susan C. Schwab, on April 28th a press release from the United States Banjul Embassy stated.

In her letter, Ambassador Schwab said her office has determined that The Gambia has adopted an effective visa system and related procedures to prevent unlawful transshipment and the use of counterfeit documents in connection with shipments of textile and apparel articles to the United States. Therefore, she said, imports of eligible products from The Gambia qualify for the textile and apparel benefits provided under AGOA.

Implementation of the textile visa is guided by the bilateral visa arrangement agreed by the two governments which, among other things, requires producers and exporters of textile and garment products to retain appropriate records and provide such records on request by the government of The Gambia.

The Gambia has now become one of 26 out of the 37 AGOA eligible countries that have qualified for the textile visa, which allows eligible countries to export manufactured apparel to the U.S. The country now needs to acquire a Category 9 certificate to export hand-woven textiles and ethnic printed fabrics.

In a May 2nd meeting with the Secretary of State for Finance, Musa Bala Gaye, who is currently overseeing the Department of State for Trade, Ambassador Barry L. Wells congratulated the Government and the people of The Gambia on the acquisition of the textile visa. Ambassador Wells expressed his hope that the country's talented fashion designers and other apparel producers would try to make the best use of this great opportunity and assured the Gambian government that the U.S. Embassy would continue to work with the relevant government departments to ensure that the country proceeds rapidly to acquire Category 9 certification.

The Gambia became an AGOA-eligible country in December 2002. The AGOA law was passed by the U.S. Congress in May 2000 as a new approach to U.S. trade and investment policy towards Africa. The program enables eligible African countries to export more than 6,400 products to the United States duty free and quota free.