AGOA Forum: Nigerian Entrepreneur seeks removal of barriers on AGOA
An Abuja-based Agriculture entrepreneur, Mrs Esta Charles-Ayede, has urged the U.S Government to remove barriers inhibiting some African countries from fully utilising the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity (AGOA).
Ayede made the submission at a roundtable between local entrepreneurs in Abuja and the U.S Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams.
The discussion was held via a Digital Video Conference (DVC) between Washington D.C and Abuja.
It coincided with by President Barack Obama announcement on Tuesday, of $33 billions in new investments for Africa at the ongoing U.S-Africa summit in Washington D.C.
Obama also announced that his administration would work with congress for a long term extension of AGOA to boost the investment climate in Africa.
Ayede, an expert in agriculture logistics and warehousing, said for AGOA to fully benefit Nigerian businesses the American government must do something urgent on the standardisation of products.
“Most of our women have attempted exporting agro-based produce to America and they have suffered huge losses because of standardisation.
“They take these products to America and when they get there they are told senile is too much in the garri or the yam is not up to standard and they incur a lot of losses.
She urged American firms to set up their laboratories locally in Nigeria to encourage Nigerian exporters to test their products here.
She encouraged American firms to invest in non-oil sector businesses in Nigeria such as agriculture and “forget the oil-based business,” which currently accounts for 90 per cent of trade between Nigeria and U.S.
“They can invest agro-mechanisation because agriculture in Nigeria is still largely subsistent and not yet commercial.
“We have a lot of land and Nigerian soil is one that grows everything but what we need is the expertise, equipment and the laboratories to test our products to attain international standards for export,” she said.
Williams pledged that U.S government would continue to promote partnership between U.S-based firms and Nigerian firms with a view to promoting best practices to improve trade.
AGOA allows 6,400 products from eligible Sub-Saharan African countries to enter the U.S. duty free.
According to U.S Department of Commerce, in 2013, U.S imports under AGOA totaled $26.8 billion.
However, since its inception over the last 14 years, Nigeria had yet to fully benefit from it’s because of a myriad of factors, including standardisation and access to finance.