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US export window has failed in Nigeria’

Published date:
Thursday, 14 January 2010

The impact of the United States' export window through the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA, is not being felt as expected in Nigeria. This is because Nigeria has not produced high quality goods and services that will compete favourably in the international market.

The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Achike Udenwa, told journalists in Abuja on Tuesday that Nigeria has not done well in exploiting opportunities provided by AGOA to turn around its fortunes, as other countries signatory to it have done.

"We have not done very well in AGOA. Some other countries are doing better than us. We have market access but our products are not up to standard. Our effort is to make sure we bring the products to a standard that it will sell in developed nations," he said. Provisions AGOA, offers tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets.

The Act provides market access for 6,400 products from sub-Saharan African countries. AGOA was originally implemented as part of the US Trade Act of 2000, and expanded two times thereafter in later legislations, the Trade Act of 2002 (AGOA II) and the AGOA Acceleration Act of 2004 (AGOA III).

But recently, due to liberal rules of origin in the apparel sector, AGOA provides sub-Saharan Africa the most liberal access to the U.S. market available to any region, even those countries with free trade agreements with the US. The Act equally encourages the reform of sub-Saharan Africa's economic and commercial regimes, the building of stronger markets and effective partnership with U.S firms.

The general intention of the AGOA is to provide developing economies in the region increased access to U.S. markets, and in particular the apparel market. It is expected to influence Nigeria's potential and export performance in the areas of agriculture, textiles, leather products, solid minerals, handcraft and interior decorations.

Nigeria's performance Mr. Udenwa further disclosed that Nigeria's AGOA's performance index export was ranked 8th position in 2008, in terms of agricultural exports to the US out of the 40 AGOA beneficiary countries, but we are yet to perform creditably in other sectors like textiles/apparel, forestry products, minerals and metals. He said efforts are being intensified to "perform better in the coming years.

Worth mentioning also is the fact that made in Nigeria goods featured prominently in the AGOA exhibition of exportable products during the 8th AGOA forum, which took place in Nairobi, Kenya in 2009." Made in Nigeria goods This, he said, is a pointer to the success recorded by the patronage of made in Nigeria goods campaign. Mr. Udenwa said the new initiative of the ministry's campaign for patronage of made in Nigeria products was born out of the need to re-focus the ministry's tripod objectives of increasing industrial productivity; enhancing the country's non oil export earning and decreasing importation.

The tripod objectives are aimed at generating massive employment, creating wealth, combating poverty and diversifying the foreign exchange earnings, especially in the current period of declining fortunes from crude oil. To further encourage Nigeria's more active participation in AGOA, its secretariat has been moved from Ghana to Nigeria. The centre was established to provide basic market information to the participating countries.

The minister also revealed that the inter ministerial committee on Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, has moved to review the Nigeria Standard Draft Agreement, to make it conform to international standard, in line with the economic policies and development aspiration of the present administration.

Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement is a treaty between two countries that addresses issues relating to cross border investments, usually for the purpose of the promotion, protection and liberation of such investments.

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