Doubts About Bush Administration Commitment to AGOA
Nigeria's Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday came out with six strategies in response to the general belief that Nigeria has not derived much benefit from the Africa Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA). The strategies would also help to reposition and re-engineer the Act.
The Minister of Health, Professor Eyitayo Lambo and Minister of State for Finance, Mrs Nenadi Esther Usman, unfolding the strategies while briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of the FEC meeting, said the FEC has decided to ensure the upgrading of domestic apparels and footwear industries for direct export to the United States.
The second strategy is aimed at attracting new investors in textiles and apparel manufacturing in Nigeria, especially as Nigeria is at an advantaged position of obtaining the United States visa system which is a prerequisite for the exportation of apparels to the United States.
The council has also proposed the creation of a merchant class of garment and textile exporters which will organise a critical mass of small-scale garments and textile producers, seamstresses and tailors to produce for the export market through sub-contracting arrangement.
The establishment of a model training garment factory that will be equipped with modern machines and equipment, highly trained skilled workers that will reel out about 300 machine operators monthly for employment in the upcoming garment factories is the fourth strategy.
The Minister of State for Finance, while speaking on this, said "the emphasis here is on small-scale industries. Usually, the average Nigerian usually thinks that if we are going to do something like that it should be something big. But that usually has not proved to be very helpful."
"Clusters of small businesses, a shop not having more than six people just may, no matter the level of one, one can easily fit into the system. But if you say it is going to be big business only, the small Nigerian will not be able to benefit from it," she added.
The other strategies aimed at ensuring that Nigeria benefits more from AGOA are engagement in intra-AGOA trade that will produce and export Nigeria's yarn or fabric to garment manufacturers in other sub-Saharan African countries and the establishment of a Presidential Council on AGOA.
The Federal Executive Council also ratified the bilateral agreement signed between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia last October 2003 on oil, mineral, agriculture, the exchange of information on scientific, research and technical expertise amongst others.
The Health Minister who described the agreement as a landmark progress in diplomatic efforts between the two countries, said the council has ratified and approved the memo from the Education Minister for the award of the construction of the Abuja Model Study Centre. The centre is one of the 18 to be built all over the country and to be funded through the memo on the draft on public sector partnering bill which came before the FEC but has to be deferred to next week.
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