TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

'AGOA still available for Nigeria till 2025' - Nigerian-American Chamber

Monday, 28 May 2018 Published: | ODINAKA ANUDU

Source: Business Day Online (Nigeria)

The Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) says Nigerian exporters still have an opportunity to explore the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) till 2025.

Speaking at the 2nd Edition of the African Food and Products Exhibition and Conference themed, ‘Non-Oil Exports’ Scaling up Productivity to Meet Global Demand’ in Lagos weekend, Olabintan Famutimi, president, NACC, noted that the United States had committed a lot of resources in capacity building to ensure the success of AGOA.

Checks show that AGOA allows African countries to export 6,421 products to the US free of duty till 2025.

It was initially supposed to end in 2008 and then 2015, but was extended to 2025 because many African countries, including Nigeria, did not maximise its benefits.

The US has laid-down regulations and rules which beneficiaries must meet, but exporters mostly try to evade them, experts say.

According to Famutimi, the chamber and other partners were now working hard to ensure that Nigerian products exported to the US were not rejected.

He said NACC had been talking with off-takers in the US to see if they could establish contacts with Nigerian traders, adding that the US market was so huge to be ignored.

He said the chamber had set up an AGOA desk at its secretariat to be able to help and support members and non-members to derive the benefits from the trade agreement.

“AGOA is still available till 2025 and we can still take advantage of it,” Famutimi said, pointing out that the chamber had been getting support from the West African Trade Hub, and the African Trade Development Office in Miami, among others.

“No doubt we have entered an era in which micro small medium enterprises are needed for economic growth and development. Their impact is systemic and all-encompassing: from the integration of essential goods and services like apparel and fashion, beauty and wellness, foods and beverages, art and crafts to the promotion and establishment of non-oil exports. In light of this, we must do two things: we must scale up our productivity and we must make our response even more relevant in the global space,” he noted.

He stated that one of the biggest challenges of Nigerian manufacturers was that they did not know what was available, urging the government to ensure that exporters access its N500 billion facility, managed by NEXIM Bank, to earn the much needed foreign exchange.

Olukayode Pitan, CEO of Bank of Industry, said agriculture should not be treated as just a social sector intervention for managing poverty but more as a business for creating wealth and empowering citizens.

“It is the kind of business that can help many African nations, including Nigeria, diversify revenue, reduce import dependency, create jobs and develop rural areas. But the question to answer is this: How can Nigeria drive economic diversity and productivity in the agricultural sector? One solution is to embark on agricultural industrialisation and implement innovative financing models that cater to the needs of both low-income farmers and high-income processors. We need to start looking critically at the whole agriculture value chain,” Pitan, who was represented by Waheed Olagunju, executive director for SMEs, noted.

He said in 2017, Nigeria’s agriculture export was valued at just over ₦170 billion ($470 million) – less than nine percent of its potential, stressing that this should not be so.

“I am very keen about our agriculture export potential as we have the opportunity to be the leading exporter of rice, maize, corn, shrimps and cocoa, which we have in abundant quantities,” he stated.

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