Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, Prof. Adefuye Adebowale, at a pre-AGOA forum in Washington DC, called for an AGOA trade hub in Nigeria, and the extension of the AGOA law, which is expected to expire in 2015.
The Nigerian envoy noted that such an extension period of between 10 and 15 years would give Nigeria and other eligible African countries “reasonable time to build competitive capacity in the global market and ensure that meaningful investment opportunities are realised.”
Besides, the US Commerce Department noted that, by the middle of last year, US exports to the entire sub-Saharan Africa was about $21 billion, revealing a rising trade expansion with African countries because of AGOA. According to a statement issued by the US State Department at the weekend, “AGOA enables the 39 eligible sub-Saharan African countries to export most products duty-free to the United States,” adding that the total African exports under AGOA “have more than quadrupled” since the programme’s inception about 13 years ago.
Continuing, the statement added: “AGOA provides incentives for African countries to improve their investment climates, reduce corruption, respect human and labour rights and the rule of law, improve infrastructure and harmonise trade standards to help them become more competitive in the global marketplace,” having disclosed that “in 2012, AGOA-eligible countries exported nearly $35 billion in products to the United States duty free under AGOA and its related Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) provisions.”
Commenting before he left Washington DC to join the Nigerian delegation to the 12th AGOA Forum in Ethiopia, Adefuye disclosed that there are more than 6,400 products covered under AGOA from the 39 African countries, including Nigeria.
But he added that, even though AGOA is about to expire in two years, “many African countries have not benefitted,” from the provision of the US law that grants duty-free trade into the US.
“Even Nigeria has not optimally utilised the provisions of AGOA, as the component of its huge trade with the US is mostly crude oil,” Adefuye added, while canvassing a broader products window under the Act, “so that our value-added agricultural products could be allowed into the American markets.”
The Nigeria Ambassador to the US then suggested, as he noted at the pre-AGOA forum meeting in the US Capital last week, that access for high-value and semi-processed agric products into US markets from Nigeria “should be part of the renewed AGOA.”
More specifically, the Ambassador added that, when AGOA is extended, Nigeria would expect the Americans to assist Africa with trade infrastructure such as safe ports, shipping, roads and rails to connect the sub-region and to foster regional trade.
He also stated that the country needs technical assistance in the area of Phyto-Sanitary Compliance, the absence of which, he disclosed “has led to the denial of access into US market of most of its agric products.”
The 12th AGOA Forum is holding in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the theme “Sustainable Transformation through Trade and Technology”.
The US State Department said that the forum, which will end tomorrow, would bring “together senior administration officials, African government ministers as well as US and African business and civil society stakeholders.”
The forum will highlight the progress achieved since the Act’s inception in 2000 and launch a dialogue on the future of United States-sub-Saharan Africa trade and economic cooperation.
According to the US Government, “these discussions will pave the way for the Obama Administration to work with Congress and other stakeholders on AGOA’s extension after September 30, 2015, when the current Act is due to expire.”
Leading the Nigerian delegation to the AGOA forum is Nigeria’s Trade and Investment Minister, Mr. Olusegun Aganga.