With less than five years to the end of the extended African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) has reiterated its commitment to ensuring that Nigeria enjoys the benefit of the scheme.
With the change of the United States political leadership, the Chamber is hopeful that ties between the two countries would improve, even as it urged the government to address environmental challenges limiting Nigeria’s export potential.
According to the NACC President, Oluwatoyin Akomolafe, the Chamber is poised to promote business relationships between Nigeria and the U.S.
Preparatory to its 60th anniversary scheduled to commence later this month with courtesy visits to its members and stakeholders, Akomolafe at a press conference in Lagos, yesterday, said the Chamber has consolidated itself as a virile trade channel between Nigeria and the U.S. in the 60 years of its existence, adding that the NACC maintains close relations with the commercial section of the United States Embassy as well as other stakeholders.
“More than 60 years on, NACC has grown into a dynamic organisation. It stands as a pillar of the relationship between the United States and Nigeria, serving as an important catalyst in bringing together people and ideas to bolster bilateral commercial relations between Nigeria and the United States.
“Our celebrations will thus be a year-long event comprising several activities. Most of these activities will be executed as hybrid events. This means these activities will have very limited physical attendance. The majority of participants would be encouraged to join online via zoom or any other suitable application/platform”, he added.
Akomolafe also emphasised the need for non-oil exporters to embrace higher standards while exploring the U.S. markets, saying: “Our members stand to gain a lot more with higher standards of exports and better access to finance under the AGOA project but that is currently being addressed by the chamber through education and training of members.”
The Federal Government had in 2018 begun the implementation strategy to ensure that non-oil products are duly accepted in the U.S. under AGOA.
The products that are being considered for export under AGOA include sesame seed, cashew, tomatoes, oranges, cassava, spices and ginger.
Others are shea butter, cowpea, banana, plantain, cement, clinker, leather and articles of leather, arts and handicrafts, specialty foods and cocoa.
The United States had earlier expressed concerns about the performance of the scheme, noting that petroleum products continued to account for the largest portion of AGOA imports, with a 67 per cent share.
For exporters looking to explore the U.S. markets, Akomolafe explained that the chamber was an AGOA resource centre and works with the commercial arm of the U.S. Embassy and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) in assisting its members with standards, among others to boost export of non-oil and agro-allied products to the United States.
On her part, Dame Adebola Williams acknowledged Nigeria’s late implementation of the AGOA scheme adding that the chamber is striving to help businesses optimise the benefits.
NACC Director-General, Sola Obadimu added that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) offers the United States an opportunity to seal a common trade deal with the continent.