Textile and Garments Association has said the extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) to September 2015 presents an opportunity to Malawi.
In an interview on Thursday, the association chairperson Fred Kanjo said the extension will boost trade between Malawi and the US.
â€œIn the trade between the US and Malawi, garment exports feature prominently, so we need to step up our game as exporters.
â€œNot many investors are attracted to this sector because only high quality garments are exported to the US market. At the moment, there is only one big local operator, Win Win Garments,â€ he said.
During her one-day visit to Malawi, US secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed the need for the two countries to enhance their trade and Kanjo said the Agoa market is one way of doing that.
Clinton told President Joyce Banda that Malawi should take advantage of the Agoa market and the US Africa Energy Finance Initiative.
Kanjo said if Malawi is to benefit from the facility, it has to improve the quality of its garments.
Minister of Industry and Trade John Bande agreed with Kanjo that the Agoa market presents an opportunity to the textile industry.
He, however, was quick to point out the need to strengthen players in the textiles and garments sector to make use of the facility because Malawi missed out on the list of top sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries that fully utilised the Agoa market in 2010, according to a summary of total trade between the US and SSA countries prepared by the US International Trade Administration (ITA).
â€œWe are already encouraging local manufactures to engage the ministry when the face any problem. Soon, we will tour and encourage garments and textile companies to use the Agoa facility.
â€œIt could be lack of knowledge, capacity, incentives and encouragement that cause some companies not to take advantage of the facility,â€ he said.
Agoa is a US trade arrangement that enhances the countryâ€™s market access for 39 SSA countries, including Malawi.