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Nigeria goes trading in America

Published date:
Thursday, 04 March 2010

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry has concluded arrangements to showcase the investment potential in the different sectors of the Nigerian economy, in the United States market. This will be achieved through the 1st Nigeria-US business forum scheduled to hold on April 2010 in Atlanta, Houston and Chicago.

The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Achike Udenwa, while briefing newsmen in Abuja on Monday, disclosed that the forum will give a boost to trade relations between Nigeria and the United States. He added that the business forum is a sequel to the annual Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) meeting that held between the two countries in Washington D.C. last year.

Doing business in Nigeria

The aim of the TIFA is to review the economic framework between Nigeria and the United States, looking at such things as the World Trade Organisations (WTO) negotiations, as both countries are interested in WTO activities.

Last year’s TIFA meeting also considered the review of market access and the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which allows Nigeria to export certain goods to America without payment of duties.

Regarding the meeting, Mr. Udenwa said, “We met not just US officials; we also met members of the organised private sector in the U.S.; the chambers of commerce and also the Business Council on Africa, and several other unions who were interested in knowing how to do business in Nigeria and those already doing business in Nigeria. We had to explain to them the reforms being carried out by the government to make investment more attractive. We had to explain the local content bill in the oil industry. All these were very refreshing to all that got firsthand information on how to do business in Nigeria.

“Interactions with the private and corporate bodies in the Washington area gave us an indication that other areas of the United States needed to know what is available in Nigeria, as we discovered that people understand only a little about the opportunities that exist in Nigeria.”

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Mr. Udenwa also said that the foreign media had not done enough in projecting the good side of economic activities in some emerging economies.

“Because of this, we felt it was necessary for us to carry this beyond Washington DC. We decided that we should take up about three of them this year and more of the cities in the future. We are taking off with Atlanta, Houston and Chicago.”

He said the mission is not just a ministry affair, as there is going to be large delegation from Nigeria that will include other ministries, departments and agencies, state governments and also the organised private sector, including the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, NACCIMA, and others.

The minister said his expectation is for “Nigerian businessmen come face to face with American businessmen and have bilateral talks and agreements in addition to interactions at governmental levels. This very visit is supposed to promote the entire Nigerian economy. We are going to look into areas like agriculture manufacturing, solid minerals, tourism and hospitality, infrastructure and construction especially in the area of concessioning, oil and gas, entertainment, environment and insurance. We will also use the opportunity to find market for our goods, and canvass investment inflow into Nigeria.”

This event is Nigeria’s first outing to the USA.

Attractive goods

Mr. Udenwa further stated that the American entrepreneurs are very eager to invest in the developing economies, adding that the Nigeria-US trade summit will bring access for marketing our goods and ensure foreign direct investment flowing into our country from America. He, therefore, urged the businessmen to package their goods and services well, saying that poor packaging had been the bane of exported goods from Nigeria, as the goods were less attractive in the foreign market.

As at today, Nigeria’s major export to the U.S. is crude oil, but we import quite a lot in terms of machinery, power inputs, consumables, and other things.

This forum is being organised by the federal ministry of commerce and industry in collaboration with the US Department of Trade, Washington, and the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria. Joe Ita, spokesperson for the Nigeria Export Promotion Council, said efforts are being made to assist exporters with packaging their goods to meet international standards.




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