TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Key Africa Trade Law Extended to 2015

Thursday, 15 July 2004

Source: This Day (Lagos)

United States government has signed into law an extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to 2015, according to the Public Affairs Section of the US Consulate in Lagos.

Under the Act Nigeria manufacturers can export textiles and apparels to the US duty free.

Praising the Act which came into force at the inception of his administration four years ago, President George Bush described the US initiative as a "landmark legislation that has been beneficial to the people of the continent of Africa and to the people of the United States of America."

Addressing a group of African dignitaries, senior U.S government officials and congressional lawmakers before signing the legislation, known as AGOA 111, Bush said AGOA has "given American businesses greater confidence to invest in Africa, and encouraged African nations to reform their economies and governments to take advantage of the opportunities that AGOA provides."

AGOA, originally enacted in May 2000, gives preferential trade access to African nations that work to open their economies and build free markets. The legislation signed by President Bush on Tuesday extends AGOA trade incentives for participating nations until 2015.

Bush said that in 2003, under AGOA, exports from Africa to the United States increased by 55 percent, while American businesses saw a 15 percent increase in their exports to sub-Saharan Africa.

"Trade must work both ways. AGOA has been beneficial to the people of the continent of Africa and to the people of the United States of America. That's why this is a good piece of legislation," he said.

Describing AGOA as a powerful tool in fostering peace across the African continent, Bush said, "It's important for our people to understand, by opening United States markets, we make it more likely there will be peace on the continent of Africa.

"AGOA nations are strengthening the rule of law. They are lowering trade barriers, they're combating corruption, and eliminating child labour. They're setting an important example for the entire continent, demonstrating that governments that respect individual rights and encourage the development of their markets are more likely to grow economically and achieve political stability," he added.

Nigeria is however yet to take full advantage of the opportunities of AGOA according to the former US Consul-General to the country, Robyn Hinson-Jones. In a recent interview with THISDAY Hinson-Jones lamented that Nigerians who have the necessary wherewithal to export to the US without paying duties under the programme of AGOA have paid no attention to the initiative. She added that smaller African countries have already benefited immensely from the programme while hoping that Nigerians will follow suit in order to better their lot.

But speaking on the extension of the AGOA period, Minister of Commerce, Ambassador Idris Waziri, while briefing State House Correspondents on highlights of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, said "with the effort of Mr President, we have been granted visa for textile and apparel on AGOA. This sector is very important because it is in line with the new economic reform which is to be able to create wealth and jobs and fight poverty.

"We are working on the right path towards real industrial growth because of the opportunities that would now be available for textile industries in the country."

The Special Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo on AGOA, Mrs Modupe Sasore, on her part, said Nigeria would henceforth be able to export its ethnic apparels and textile to America with the signing on into law of the AGOA Trade Bill by President Bush.

Sasore stated that "the implication and benefit to Nigeria in this is that we were able to introduce into that bill what you call 'Machine-Made Ethnic Fabric and Printed Wax.' This means that our own apparels can now be exported to the United States market in addition to what we are able to do and is required by the AGOA visa given to us."

Minister of Information and National orientation, Chief Chukwuemeka Chikelu, while anchoring the FEC briefing and speaking on the AGOA visa, noted that "the implication of this is clear. That Nigerian textile and apparel manufacturers have the opportunity now to export directly to the American market duty-free. And that is a major plus for our industries and another opportunity for us to create jobs and engage people and a recognition of the reforms that are taking place in this country."

"The beauty of this however is to ensure that we take advantage of it by making sure that our manufacturers and producers of textile and apparels do what is necessary to actually access this market, partner with the people who would be able to take their goods across," he said.

Chikelu added that the AGOA visa "also has implications on investment because it means that any of the major textile and apparel manufacturing countries across the world can actually come to Nigeria to site their factories for the purpose of exporting into the United States market."

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olu Adeniji, said the plan to make Obasanjo the chairperson of the African Union (AU), began about nine months ago when some African leaders suggested that Obasanjo should head the body which is expecting to expand its scope in the next year or two.

Adeniji stated that the present mandate of the AU "goes far beyond that of the old OAU. As you know, the present union has within its charter, the right to interfere in what previously was considered internal affairs of member-states, particularly if what happens in those member-states leads into conflict."

Speaking on the election process, the minister said "although the President had been very reluctant at the beginning, but as the pressure mounted, he had to yield."

He added that "in the next two years, we would witness some degree of transformation in the building process of the new African Union if Africa is to position itself into playing the kind of role which it should play in the present global setting."

"It cannot be business as usual for the African Union. The international community expects Africa to now take a leadership role in settling Africa's problems. It is not enough now to run to the UN or run to the international partner to come and help us. They want to see what we have done for ourselves," he said.



“AGOA Latest AGOA Trade Data on AGOA.info


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 AGOA.info 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.