By Franklin Alli
The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has called for a reappraisal of Nigeria’s participation in the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), saying the country has not benefited much from the programme.
AGOA is a U.S. preferential trade programme established in May 2000 that provides duty-free access to the $3 trillion U.S. market for thousands of products from eligible sub-Saharan African countries. As of August 2014, 41 sub-Saharan African countries were eligible for AGOA benefits.
2013 AGOA data published by US Trade and Commerce Department, showed that Nigeria exported products worth $5,403,000 compared to South Africa $3,667, 783,000; Lesotho $320,879,000 and Mauritius $199,268,000; Kenya $342,502,000; Angola $66,000,000; Cameroun $21,650,000 and Ghana $34,673,000.
In a review of 14 years of AGOA and Nigeria’s performance, NACCIMA Director General, John Isemede, noted: “For 14 years Nigeria has been on it but what has been the take home from AGOA; who has AGOA made millionaire in Nigeria?
I am not saying we should pull out; am not condemning it, however, for Nigeria to continue, we have to assess how did we start; where are we today; are we to go ahead with the old system or there will be some adjustments? That is where experts from the private sector and universities have to come in.”
NACCIMA, he said, frowns at a situation whereby America is dictating the price of what they buy from us. “If you are taking produce from Nigeria and we can’t meet your standard, you had better come and investment in Nigeria or bring your own experts to come and teach us the standard.
You asked for ABCD products and you have every right to determine the quality and quantity but you don’t have every right to determine the price for what you don’t produce. What is the essence of determining quality when you have not even worked with our people?”
Recall that AGOA was signed into law by President Clinton in May 2000 with the objective of expanding U.S. trade and investment with sub-Saharan Africa, to stimulate economic growth, to encourage economic integration, and to facilitate sub-Saharan Africa’s integration into the global economy.
One goal of AGOA is to support sub-Saharan African economic development through trade and investment. The programme offers tangible incentives to sub-Saharan African countries for undertaking difficult political and economic reforms that promote long-term growth and development.
The Act establishes the annual U.S.-sub-Saharan Africa Economic Cooperation Forum (known as the AGOA Forum) to promote a high-level dialogue on trade and investment-related issues. At the center of AGOA are substantial trade preferences that, along with those under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), allow virtually all marketable goods produced in AGOA-eligible countries to enter the U.S. market duty-free.
The U.S. Congress requires the President to determine annually whether sub-Saharan African countries are eligible for AGOA benefits based on progress in meeting certain criteria, including progress toward the establishment of a market-based economy, rule of law, economic policies to reduce poverty, protection of internationally recognised worker rights, and efforts to combat corruption.
In 2013, U.S. goods imports from sub-Saharan African under AGOA and the related GSP programme totaled $26.8 billion, more than three times the amount in 2001, the first full-year of AGOA trade.
While petroleum products accounted for the largest portion of AGOA imports, non-oil AGOA trade was $4.9 billion in 2013.