TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Bipartisan Coalition Unveils New AGOA III Legislation

Monday, 12 April 2004

Source: Vanguard (Lagos)

Inspite of the assurances by government officials to the contrary, there are strong indications that Nigeria is still far from qualifying for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) about four years after the programme started to assist exports from Africa.

NigeriaAGOA was signed into law on May 18, 2000 by then US president Bill Clinton as Title 1 of The Trade and Development Act of 2000 to offer tangible incentives to African countries to continue their efforts at opening up their economies and build free markets.

Dependable sources close to the United States Trade Registration (USTR) office disclosed at the weekend that Nigeria was still far from benefitting from the programme because the country is still yet to enact the laws necessary to authorize certain enforcement elements of the visa system.

Given the situation on the ground, officials handling Nigeria's AGOA visa application say that Nigeria cannot expect AGOA visa any time now.

Unfortunately, Nigeria's visa application has remained stagnant since 2000 when the program began. The complain about the country's inability to enact the necessary legislation to benefit from AGOA has been a recurring problem.

Beneficiary countries under AGOA have been chosen according to various pre-determined criteria, including progress made towards a market-based economy, respect of the rule of law, the embracement of general democratic principles and human rights issues.

While Nigeria's visa application suffers setbacks, officials of government in the country have always told Nigerians that the country was almost at the verge of getting approval to participate in AGOA.

At the AGOA forum last December, the Minister of Commerce Engr. Mustapha Belo had said that all the necessary steps had been taken and that approval was just around the corner.

Nigeria's inability to take part in AGOA has been a minus for the economy. In 2002 alone, AGOA imports by the US stood at $9billion, picked up by smaller African countries which had qualified to take advantage of the programme..

Indeed statistics from the United States Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration indicates that for 2002, AGOA accounted for half of the US imports from sub-Saharan Africa.

Since 2000, the year prior to trade benefits materializing under AGOA, Namibia's total exports to the U.S. have grown three-fold from US$ 42m to over US$ 123m in 2003. Whereas the country exported virtually no clothing (or textiles) to the US initially, exports of knitwear (HS61) now form that country's single largest export category to the U.S.

This follows the establishment of Ramatex, a sizeable and vertically-integrated production facility in the country's capital city Windhoek. In 2003, knitwear accounted for 34% of total exports to the US, followed by "copper and copper articles" (HS74) worth 27% of total US-bound exports.

In 2002, Cote d'Ivoire recorded a bi-lateral trade surplus of $ 300 million with the US. In 2001 it was $ 236 million.

Given complaints by many sub-Saharan African countries about the stringent conditions for participating in AGOA, the United States introduced some modifications into provisions of the AGOA Act in 2002. Thus came into existence the Trade Act of 2002 (AGOA II).

AGOA II clarifies and narrowly expands the trade opportunities for Sub-Saharan African countries under AGOA and encourages more investment in the region.

Following from the modifications under AGOA II, exported garments manufactured in African countries from raw materials made in other countries - mainly in Asia - have been accepted under AGOA. However, under current rules this preferential status expires on 30 September.But a bill introduced last November in the US Senate would extend AGOA benefits until 2015, and for the next four years will permit raw materials to be imported from non-AGOA countries.

Another bill, introduced to Congress in the same month, would extend AGOA to 2020 and allow "third party" fabrics for a further three years. But both pieces of legislation have stalled.

Amongst the countries currently benefitting from AGOA are Gabon, South Africa, Madagascar, Cote d'Ivoire, Swaziland amongst others.

“AGOA Latest AGOA Trade Data on

Click here to view a sector profile of Nigeria’s bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.

Other regularly updated trade statistics on include:

  • AGOA-beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.