AGOA will Enhance Nigeria’s Diversification from Oil
The president of Nigerian-American Chambers of Commerce (NACC), Chief Olabintan Famutimi, asserted during the induction of new members into NACC in Lagos, that the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) was founded by President Clinton. It is to encourage African countries in economic development by allowing all their products about three thousand and above which are produced by countries in the sub-Saharan African to be able to ship, sell and export these products to the US duty free. This will support SMEs and diversify the country from oil as well.
Can you say more on AGOA and its progress?
AGOA is an ongoing initiative, and all I can say is the efforts we are making to drive AGOA which is now being appreciated by all levels of government that Nigeria didn’t perform on AGOA for the first fifteen years of its existence until it was determined in 2015. But luckily, the Obama administration extended it for another ten years till 2025 and on that basis, NACC took it that it will change the narratives and put more efforts into ensuring that Nigeria does not lose out again because many of the other thirty-nine sub-Saharan African countries that are AGOA inclusive have done a lot but Nigeria was busy exporting crude under AGOA pretending as if the country is participating under AGOA whereas it wasn’t. Now that crude has ended its better days, we are performing in AGOA with significant improvement.
NACC has organized many workshops and sensitizations. The institution has participated in many international fora including AFRICANDO that was done in September at Miami, AGOA participated, it worked effectively and USAID set up the AGOA desk and centre. We ensured that an AGOA manager was in place to run the laudable initiative on the desk and part of the money to set up the desk was provided by USAID. AGOA is training, sensitizing including other services. Progress has been made with substantial results as evidence. AGOA was founded by President Clinton to encourage African countries in economic development by allowing all their products about three thousand and above which are produced by countries in the sub-Saharan African to be able to ship, sell and export products to the US duty free to become competitive. Every product that is being produced in these countries including agricultural products that are acceptable about six thousand and four hundred. These products can go to America without duty on them till 2025.
As the President of NACC, can you explain in what ways small businesses in Nigeria benefited from AGOA?
Most of the businesses that can participate in AGOA are small businesses, they are Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and are being supported. Recently, when exhibition was done in Lagos, it was tagged African Food and Products Exhibition (AFPE) early in the year, it was a gathering of one hundred and thirty different companies that participated. When the SME conference was held in Abuja over one hundred and twenty companies participated and it was done in partnership with USAID. The range of these companies were so impressive and when Professor Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President of Nigeria, came to inspect the exhibition, he was so impressed by the array of products that were exhibited ready to be exported.
Has this initiative benefited Nigeria has a country?
Nigerian companies are exporting to the US more than it did before. They are all small SMEs. AGOA is planning small producers to join together in order to increase their capacity because American market is so huge. If you get a product to go to the shelf of one of the majors, they order in hundreds of thousands and millions. Nigeria’s small producers can cope. Hopefully, the market will get off-takers and showing the quality and packaging requirement which will convince them to go to the market.