The Minister of Industry Trade and Investment, Otumba Adeniyi Adebayo says Nigeria must take advantage of the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) to grow its economy.
The minister said this when he received the report of the Technical Committee on the Utilization of AGOA on Tuesday in Abuja.
AGOA is a United States Trade Act which significantly enhances market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries.
Commending the members of the committee, Adebayo expressed satisfaction over the ability to provide a document that would enable Nigeria to benefit from the AGOA scheme.
“I am pleased that the time spent has enabled the delivery of a robust document aimed at improving the country’s prospect of benefiting from the AGOA scheme”
“Your committee was saddled with the responsibility of providing a quick impact intervention on AGOA implementation and to develop a streamline of six month wealth plan with the target of 500 million dollars export volume to the United States amongst others,” he said.
Adebayo said that effective implementation of the work plan would create more employment opportunities and generate wealth for Nigerians through increased non-oil export.
He said: “The production of the report and work plan marks the completion of the first phase of the task and there is still a lot of work to be done.
“I am confident in the capacity of this committee to place Nigeria among the top beneficiaries of the AGOA scheme before its expiry in 2025,” Adebayo said.
Earlier, the Co-Chairman of the Committee and Director of Trade in the Ministry, Mr Suleiman Audu, said the committee developed a work plan, a budget and the report within four weeks of its inauguration.
Audu who represented the Chairman of the Committee and Director-General, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Dr Ezra Yakusak, said the committee identified six focal sectors and products for the actualisation of the work plan across six geo-political zones.
According to him, they include; the agro-products, cosmetics based on shea butter and coconut oil extracts, textile and garments, processed food and beverages, leather and leather products and arts and craft.
“There is an increasing demand for them in the US market; there is huge production capacity and can easily be sourced.
“The products are covered under the AGOA eligibility products, the products are MSMEs inclusive; the sectors are supported by US Trade Facilitation Agencies.
“They have gained acceptability in the US market and the required standards are easily attainable by MSMEs and are cost effective”.
He added that the committee developed a work plan with eight proposed programmes and activities.
“The Committee developed a Work Plan with eight major proposed programmes and activities which are: increased awareness on AGOA, US market and export requirement of the Identified AGOA focal products.
“Others are strategic and effective media promotion of AGOA opportunities and focal products in Nigeria and the US; focal products exhibition and value chain development.
“It entails the mobilisation of quick access to grants and project finance, harmonisation of regulatory requirements with counterparts in the US, market access collaboration with the Diaspora (Roundtable).
“Strengthening of effective digital export facilitation/complaints desk and monitoring and evaluating ports and exporters warehouse,’’ Audu said.
Audu also said that an estimated budget of ₦590 million is contained in the report in line with the work plan.
The committee recommended that the Federal Government approves special intervention funds for the implementation of the work plan/budget and provision of funds/grants to exporters for optimal facilitation of AGOA export.
The committee also recommended the establishment of necessary contacts for efficient cooperation with US firms and organisations like the Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture.
Others are the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Federal Trade Commission.