TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Chamber: we are committed to promoting AGOA in Nigeria

Saturday, 14 April 2018 Published: | Ambrose Nnaji

Source: The Nation Online

The Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) has said it remains committed to promoting the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in Nigeria to give fillip to the Federal Government’s ongoing non-oil export drive aimed at diversifying the economy.

Its President, Mr. Olabitan Famutimi, gave the commitment at the chamber’s breakfast meeting in Lagos, during the week.

AGOA is the cornerstone of the United State (U.S.) trade and investment policy in Africa.

The programme, signed into law by the U.S. Congress in 2000, is a preferential trade agreement between the U.S. and some sub-Saharan African countries that allows the exportation of certain products into the U.S. market tariff and quota-free.

The free-duty export programme essentially seeks to increase market access to Nigeria and 38 other eligible sub-Saharan African countries to export about 7, 000 product lines to the U.S. market.

Famutimi said with the renewal of AGOA for another 10 years, Nigerian could take advantage and be able to earn foreign exchange.

He said the Chamber had done a lot of training, workshops, sensitisations, and had participated in international ventures and had worked effectively with USAID. “We are moving and we are showing results already,” he said, adding that with AGOA, Nigeria’s export to the U.S. had increased far more than before.

The NACC chief reiterated that the AGOA Act was to encourage Nigeria and other African countries by allowing all their different types of products (6,400) to be sold, shipped and exported to the U.S. duty free so that they will become competitive.

He also said arrangements are being made for small producers to be part of the programme so as to increase their capacity, as America offers a huge market. “We are opening the market; we are getting stakeholders and showing them the quality and packaging requirements to enter the U.S. market,” he added.

Famutimi, who spoke on the theme: “Nigeria after the Recession: 2018 Q1 Review and economic outlook for 2018,” said Nigeria has, indeed, exited the recession, adding that some big projects launched in the agric sector were visible indications that the country was on the recovery path.

For instance, he cited the Olam Poultry Farm, which he described as the largest in Africa, and the Dangote refinery, which according to him, was one of the largest in the world, with about 650, 000 barrels per day (bpd). He said these and other projects will play a significant role in the economic recovery of the country.

“Nigeria used to be an importer of cement before now. But right now Nigeria is an exporter of cement. Other positive things are also happening in the economy. We are building and growing, we are doing things and things are improving,” Famutimi said.

The programme’s ultimate aim was to give Nigeria and other qualified African countries opportunity to build capacity in the global markets and also create jobs. Although, the Act initially covered eight years (October 2000 to September 2008), amendments signed by former U.S. President George Bush in July 2004 extended it to September 30, 2015.

The Congress later extended it to more 10 years, which  expires on September 30, 2025.

With this, the Chamber said it was partnering strategic agencies to champion the effective implementation of AGOA through  sensitisation, access to finance and access to off-takers in the U.S.

The agencies include the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its various projects such as Nigeria Expanded Trade and Transport (NEXTT) and West Africa Trade and Investment Hub (WATIH); Nigeria Export Promotions Council (NEPC), Bank of Industry (BoI).

Others include Nigeria Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank, commercial banks; Nigerian regulatory agencies, such as Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

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