TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Nigeria: Stakeholders worried about AGOA project under Trump’s regime

Thursday, 24 November 2016 Published: | Helen Oji

Source: Guardian (Nigeria)

Stakeholder has expressed fears that Donald Trump’s emergence as United States (U.S.) president will pose a major threat to African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), urging Federal government to boost non oil sector and eliminate export barriers.

AGOA, a United States’ trade policy, enacted in 2000 allows exporters from sub-Saharan Africa to export some goods to the United States duty-free. The export opportunity, which was supposed to last from 2000 to 2020, was extended to 2025.

Under the policy, Nigeria emerged the 60th largest goods trading partner to the united Stated, with $5.3 billion in total goods trade during 2015.

The renewal was expected to open opportunities for Nigeria export market, just as government harps on diversification of non oil sector for export.

But experts argued that Trump’s assertions that he will pursue protectionist trade policies imply that the project may not ‘survive the test of time’.

Reacting on the development in a telephone interview with The Guardian, the Director General, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Muda Yusuf argued that Trump has made it clear that he will pursue protectionist trade policies.

According to him, the disposition suggests that AGOA may not survive the Trump administration.

The LCCI boss however noted that Nigerian has not taken much advantage of the project while it lasted as a result of significant supply side issues.

He added that the non-oil export sector has been grappling with many competitiveness issues arising largely from the challenging operating environment.

Furthermore, he pointed out that for Nigeria to remain competitive in the export market, government must accelerate groeth of the non-oil sector and tackle all impediments to export.

“It is about the operatin g environment that is affecting the cost of doing business in Nigeria, issue of power, cost of fund, trade facilities at the port. All these are critical to promoting export competitiveness.

“If the cost is too high, you cannot play in export market. Nigeria must be competitive in quality and pricing. The factors that affect quality are skills and technology. Nigeria needed to build capacity.

“In the area of pricing, the cost of infrastructure, production and institution charges must be reviewed. These are things we must look at to make our export competitive,” he said.

The Managing Director of NASD OTC Plc, Bola Ajomale explained that Trump’s administration would be a threat to the survival of AGOA project.

He pointed out that government must seek foreign exchange earnings and support manufacturers and exporters with incentives to facilitate business growth.

“There was a company that is listed in NASD platform. The company has 80 per cent local content and we expect it under AGOA to sell to America and this company should have been a prime income generator and from our strategy, what we thought was that this is the only real business that anybody will give Nigeria, a local content n that will generate Foreign Exchange (FOREX).

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