Nigeria: Take advantage of AGOA textile visa stamp, NEPC tasks garment manufacturers
Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Mr. Olusegun Awolowo has charged garment manufacturers to take full advantage of the recently launched AGOA Visa Stamp in Lagos.
According to him, the exporters in the sector must not allow the golden opportunity slip away from them.
Represented by the Deputy Director, National Export Office, NEPC, Mr. Saave Nanakaan, Awolowo said: “You should learn about AGOA Visa Stamp today, seize it and let the US market become a Nigerian market for textiles and garments.
“The essence of this workshop is to let our registered and potential exporters understand the operation of the Visa Stamp and fully seize the window of opportunities that the Act presents.”
Giving a brief history of AGOA, he stated it was meant to forge stronger commercial ties between Nigeria as well as other qualified African countries and the United States,while it helps to integrate these African countries into the global economy.
Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, who was represented by Mr. Aliyu Abubakar said the workshop was timely given the fact that Nigeria has not fully taken advantage of AGOA for the past 19 years.
According to him, the approval of the Visa Stamp is a step forward in Nigeria’s determination to take advantage of AGOA before it expires in the next six years.
Economic Officer, US Embassy, Abuja, Kate Kaetzer Hodson who enjoined Nigerian garment exporters to make the best use of the opportunity given to them via the AGOA Textile Visa Stamp to enhance the industry in Nigeria.
According to her, they must avail themselves of the opportunities available in the AGOA scheme to build industries in Nigeria and eventually create jobs for the younger generations.
The Economic Officer however enlightened the participants that AGOA is an Act of Parliament passed by the United State Congress in 2000, also referred to as Trade and Development Act.
She said it was designed to assist economies of sub-Saharan African countries and to improve economic relations between the United States and the region.
Textile and apparel goods from an AGOA beneficiary country will only receive preferential duty treatment once a visa arrangement is established. Visas are issued by the government of beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries.
In his presentation titled AGOA Opportunities and Advantages to the Nigerian Apparel Sector, Regional Coordinator, NEPC South West, Lagos, Mr. Babatunde Faleke, told the participants that US duty rates on textiles and apparel is high and Nigeria should take advantage of the tariff concession provided by the Act.
Faleke however gave the duty rates of fabric, fibre and apparel.
“Average duty rates of fabric is 8% while apparel is 16% and fibres has 32% duty rate,” he said, adding that, “The Nigerian textile and apparel exporters are exempted from these duty rates when export is done under AGOA,” he explained.
In his own presentation, an AGOA Specialist, USAID West Africa, Mr. Kara Diallo in a paper titled GSP and AGOA: “Overview Benefits, Rules of Origin, said “Exporting textiles and apparels under AGOA is as simple as ABC provided the Visa Stamp is administered on the commercial invoice.”
He however advised participants to prepare their invoice by providing necessary information while exporting. “Prepare well your commercial invoice by providing all necessary information and allow a space to receive the Visa samp,” he advised.
Diallo also told participants that “The US Customs will not accept a visa and will not grant preferential tariff treatment if the visa number, grouping, quantity, signature, date of issuance are missing, altered, illegible or incorrect.”
Another presenter at the event, Mr. Emmanuel Odonkor, an Apparel Value Chain Specialist and Executive Secretary, Association of Ghana Apparel Manufacturers (AGAM), in one of his three papers presented said Africa is receiving a great deal of attention in the global apparel environment, therefore exporters should comply with the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) principles for certification.
Participants took turn to ask relevant questions along the various themes of the different presentations.
Also present at the event was Area Comptroller, Nigerian Customs Service, Mrs. Ekezie Kacey, who led a delegation of Customs Officers to the event.
Head, AGOA Trade Resource Center, Mrs. Bolanle Emmanuel expressed appreciation to Hodson for her efforts and support in conveying the approval of the modified Visa Stamp and updated list of signatories under the United States-Nigeria Apparel Visa Arrangement by the United States Trade Representative.
She also appreciated all the presenters who took time to provide resources for the participants. She however urged the participants to make use of all knowledge gained at the workshop.