Uganda may be a market for Georgia cotton farming and textile production equipment and an alternative source for value-added cotton products if a Georgia training program can help make Uganda companies export-ready, according to Glen Ames.

Dr. Ames, director of international outreach at the University of Georgia, was instrumental in securing a grant for the university’s Office of International Public Service and Outreach to develop business opportunities between U.S. textile and apparel companies and those in Uganda.

“If Georgia companies need cotton products, why not source from Uganda?” Mr. Ames said. He added that Georgia companies could provide certified cottonseed and machinery for cotton or textile production, including sprayers and small tools, for Ugandan growers.

“We hope we can help Uganda utilize its comparative advantage in cotton in a value-added context for export,” Mr. Ames told GlobalAtlanta, noting that 90 percent of Uganda’s “very high quality cotton” is exported in raw form rather than as textiles or apparel.

Recognizing that textile and apparel importation is a sensitive topic for some Georgia industries, Job Dieleman, international trade consultant at the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center, pointed out that Uganda’s scale of operation in cotton and textile production is much smaller than that of the United States, so it would not be a competitor to domestic production. Georgia companies may be able to share their competitive advantages in technical assistance with the Ugandans, he suggested.

“Ugandan companies don’t yet have an understanding of what it takes to compete in a global marketplace,” Mr. Dieleman said. “We are hoping to help them increase their export-readiness and meet the requirements of AGOA.”

AGOA, or the African Growth and Opportunities Act, is a Bush administration initiative begun in 2000 to open U.S. markets to sub-Saharan African countries and make their companies and economies more transparent. A chief provision of the act, which has been extended through 2015, allows 37 of the 48 sub-Saharan countries to export clothes to the U.S. duty free.

Export-readiness for the Ugandan textile companies, according to Mr. Dieleman, means helping them to meet the quality requirements of U.S. and world markets, to deliver product on time and with high quality and to build the critical mass and capacity to respond to large orders. It also means helping them understand marketing issues such as branding, packaging and adding value or functionality to their products for final sale, he said.

Dr. Ames and Mr. Dieleman were part of a five-person Georgia delegation that traveled to Uganda in April for an initial planning meeting for the project, which is being conducted in partnership with the Uganda Investment Authority and the East Africa American Business Council in Atlanta. An eight-person trade mission from Uganda is expected to come to Georgia this summer to participate in apparel marketing activities here, and a U.S. trade mission is slated to go to Uganda in the fall. The project is expected to result in the creation of an apparel trade information Web site.

The grant for the export training project came from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Office of Citizen Exchanges for the specific purpose of increasing income and employment in Uganda’s textile and apparel sector through exports by taking advantage of AGOA.

For more information, contact Dr. Ames at or Mr. Dieleman at Contact Patrick Ayota or Stephen Seda with the East Africa American Business Council at or Contact Maggie Kigozi at the Ugandan Investment Authority at