Obasanjo to Sign Legislation On AGOA Says Special Adviser to President

President Olusegun Obasanjo may sign the legislation on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which seeks to punish defaulters on trans-shipment, into law in a few days.

Special Adviser to the President on AGOA, Mrs. Modupe Sasore, who disclosed this over the weekend in Abuja, said the legislation had already been sent to Obasanjo for his assent by the National Assembly.

She explained that part of the new legislation on AGOA specifies the penalty of payment of the values of the products for defaulters of any trans-shipment.

Sasore noted that even when the legislation is passed into law, Nigerians will be faced with the problem of visa requirement before they can start to enjoy the full benefits of AGOA.

"We have not gotten visa yet, we have gotten legislation. Visa is another one. I met with the Assistance Trade Representative, Ms. Florizelle Liser, there are things we need to make to be able to meet the standard.

There are a number of barriers we know we have," she pointed out. Last year, the then Commerce Minister, Engineer Mustafa Bello pointed out that the delay in the passage of the Textile Visa System Bill by the National Assembly was hindering the nation's ability to take advantage of the trade opportunities presented by the United States AGOA, which came into effect in January 2000.

The statement came just as the outgoing United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Howard Jeter observed that Nigeria was not yet positioned to take advantage of AGOA, and may lose its potential benefits, because the legislation that will allow businesses participate fully in AGOA was not made.

AGOA gives Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African countries access to the US market, and provides for duty and custom free trade, mainly private sector initiative, with government playing minimal roles of providing conducive environment, institutional and legal framework, good road network, communication, electricity, transportation system and good governance.

AGOA has been commended and described as gateway to industrialisation and is focused on the non-oil manufacturing sector of the economy.