- African Growth and Opportunity Act
TRALAC - Trade Law Centre
You are here: Home/News/Article/AGOA: Nigeria’s untapped opportunity for non-oil export, rights enforcement

AGOA: Nigeria’s untapped opportunity for non-oil export, rights enforcement

AGOA: Nigeria’s untapped opportunity for non-oil export, rights enforcement
Published date:
Tuesday, 23 May 2023
Henry Ojelu

IN 2000, President Bill Clinton’s administration passed special trade laws to promote trade ties between the US, Africa, and the Caribbean.

One of the enactments was the African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA. To be eligible to access the benefits of the Act, participating countries are required to meet certain criteria set by the US government.

Among the long list of requirements is the adherence to international human rights standards.

By insisting that countries seeking to take advantage of the Act to market their products to the large US consumer market adhere to human and economic rights standards, the US government invariably ties economic corporations with human and economic rights indices.

Although the US criteria for adjudging human and economic rights compliance remains largely vague, Nigeria despite its poor human rights record has consistently passed the AGOA eligibility test. The pass mark means that Nigerian businesses can export their goods to the US market while adhering to international standards.

Unfortunately, successive Nigerian governments have focused on crude oil export instead of leveraging AGOA to promote its massive non-oil sector such as agriculture. In 2018, Nigeria attempted to adopt an AGOA framework but little has been done about incorporating the framework into national economic planning.

President of the African Bar Association, AfBA Mr. Uwaifo Hanibbal, traces the challenge of implementing AGOA in Nigeria and says successive governments have done very little to address the issues. He said: “The inability of Nigeria to benefit from the AGOA is due largely to three factors. Firstly, corruption especially in the outgoing regime of Muhammadu Buhari has gone monstrous to the level that utilising such opportunities with the implications of due process and the consequences are simply not profitable to the crooks that are in charge.

“Secondly, while previous governments made appreciable efforts in laying the framework for gradual optimization of Nigeria’s participation in the scheme through the establishment of strong economic teams and broad-based approach to production and export promotion that is the bedrock of the initiative, the Buhari regime killed all the initiatives through incompetent officials who were appointed based largely on ethnic, religious and family considerations.

“Thirdly, there has been a deliberate effort to kill private initiatives and discourage private entrepreneurs. Those running governments, having conquered everything and every aspect of Nigeria’s existence, believe only in Petro-dollars as the easiest way for their incompetence and crockery.”

Aside from the challenges identified by Mr. Uwaifo, the human rights community in Nigeria has also not been able to leverage the human and economic rights criteria for AGOA eligibility to demand accountability from the government.

Deputy Director of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, Kolawole Oluwadare, whose organisation has been involved in the campaign for better utilisation of AGOA, suggests useful recommendations in furtherance of the objective of making the Act a viable tool for human and labour rights advocacy.

According to Kolawole: “All stakeholders need to work together to reposition the AGOA as a tool for advancing human and labour rights in Nigeria, and other beneficiary countries. To achieve this goal, the US Government must bring the AGOA human and labour rights eligibility requirements to the table in its engagement with the government of Nigeria on human and labour rights.

“There is a need to foster collaboration between the national state and non-state actors working in the field of trade and those in the field of human and labour rights. Trade policy institutions such as the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, FMITI and the Nigeria Export Promotion Council, NEPC, need to collaborate with the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, and non-state actors working on human and labour rights on all engagements on the AGOA.

“The present practice where only the trade policy institutions manage all engagements on the AGOA does not reflect the original purpose of the AGOA.” Oluwadare said the missed AGOA opportunity should be used to drive awareness and capacity on the trade and human rights nexus, especially among the human and labour rights-focused non-state actors.

On his part, Executive Director, Cadrell Advocacy Centre, Mr. Evans Ufeli stated that Nigeria can take advantage of the AGOA to access the US market and its huge potential but must do this by first addressing insecurity within the country.

He said: “Citizen’s participation in trade and agro-business cannot flourish amid insurgency, farmer-herder conflict, banditry and the host of other social vices prevalent in the Nigerian society today.

“There must be a conscious effort to end the proliferation of ethno-religious conflicts susceptible to dividing us further before we can find the focus to increase export of any form.

“The truth is that the Nigerian agricultural potential has been ruptured by many variables, and it struggles even with the opportunities around to stay afloat. With the US market of that size open to us, one would have thought that by now we will have developed the capacity to field in our best agricultural input along that line to reduce unemployment and brace up to higher dimensions of export and trade at a level where the whole of Africa would have seen our prospect and learn therefrom.”

Read related news articles

Kenya shows Nigeria’s missed textile, apparel export opportunities with AGOA

Duty- and quota-free access to the United States of America’s market granted by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has played a significant role in boosting trade and investment between sub-Saharan Africa and the US. Many qualifying African countries have achieved notable successes in exporting goods under Agoa to the US. These successes include textiles and apparel from Kenya, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Lesotho, Ghana, and...

03 April 2024

'Nigeria missing as Kenya, Ghana tap AGOA opportunities to boost foreign exchange earnings'

Africa’s biggest economy is still failing to tap the opportunities that the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) present to boost its foreign exchange, amid acute dollar shortages. The AGOA has been on for over twenty-three years as it was enacted in 2020. In 2015, the program was modernised and extended to 2025, implying that there are only about 15 months before the window closes. Some countries have taken advantage of the AGOA more...

05 February 2024

US treasury Deputy Secretary Adeyemo visits Lagos, discusses duty-free access to the US market with local entrepreneurs

Nigerian-born United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, Wally Adeyemo, will be in Lagos, Nigeria between September 17 – 19, 2023, for a number of diplomatic engagements including a meeting with entrepreneurs and start-ups to discuss how they can sell their products by exploring “duty-free access” to the US market. Duty-free access is the permission given by a host country for another country to export goods into their country...

18 September 2023

Nigeria: US to 'create jobs for Africans through trade, investments in tech, infrastructure'

The United States govern­ment has expressed its willingness to create jobs through increased trade and investment in sectors such as agriculture, technology and infrastructure, as well as boost innovation and elevate the living standards of mil­lions of Africans. The U.S. Consul General, Will Stevens, disclosed this at the Africa Social Impact Summit 2023, themed: “Global Vision, Local Action: Reposi­tioning the African...

10 August 2023

Take advantage of AGOA to boost exports, Minister urges Nigerians

The Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI), Adeniyi Adebayo has urged Nigerians to take advantage of the African Growth Opportunity Act, (AGOA). Adebayo said this when he received the report of the Technical Committee on the utilization of AGOA in Abuja on Tuesday. The report which was delivered by the Co-chairman of the Committee and Director of Trade, FMITI Suleiman Audu on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee and...

02 May 2023

Nigeria: Garment factory to create 2,000 direct jobs, utilize AGOA

Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, at the weekend, said the state’s garment factory will be inaugurated this year with a take off capacity to hire 2,000 direct labour. Speaking with dozens of APC youths, progressive social media influencers, and some online news publishers on Saturday, the governor said the idea is to make Kwara a hub for garment production, which can then benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act...

26 August 2022

Nigeria: US-American chamber seeks shippers’ nod to boost non-oil exports

The Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) has sought partnership with Nigerian shippers to maximally utilise the United States’ African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). AGOA is a key component of US/African strategy that focuses on increasing African non-oil exports to the US. The Executive Secretary of the Abuja chapter of NACC, Ayo Salaam, disclosed that Nigerian companies had not taken advantage of AGOA because they exported...

12 June 2022

Nigerian shippers urged to take advantage of second chance of AGOA

The Executive Secretary, Nigerian – American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), Mr. Ayo Salam has urged Nigerian exporters, in particular, shippers to take advantage of the second window of opportunities by African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which lapses in September 2025 to advance trade and export with the United States of America. This is as he promised to assist Nigerian exporters and shoppers leverage on the 6500 export items...

09 June 2022

Nigeria, US to leverage AGOA for improved trade ties

The United States of America (USA) Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, has disclosed that Nigeria will continue to be eligible for preferential trade access to the US market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Leonard, during a visit to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, said Nigeria became eligible after a review of the criteria set by the US Congress under AGOA. According to her, the...

01 June 2022

AGOA to stimulate Nigeria’s economic growth – NEPC

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has called on exporters to take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to stimulate the country’s economic growth. NEPC Executive Director and Chief Executive Director, Dr Ezra Yakusak, said this at a sensitisation workshop on eligibility criteria and documentation for AGOA organised by the Council in Owerri on Monday. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the AGOA is...

07 February 2022

You are here: Home/News/Article/AGOA: Nigeria’s untapped opportunity for non-oil export, rights enforcement