14th February, 2018
The U.S. on Tuesday urged Nigeria to create an enabling environment for processing of agricultural products to encourage sales of such products in the international market.
Mr Harry Sullivan, the Acting Director for Economic and Regional Affairs, made the call in a teleconference with newsmen organised by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy.
He said that Nigeria’s over-dependence on oil could hinder economic growth; therefore, there was need for diversification.
Sullivan also said that there was need to seek update on U.S. economic policy in Africa and efforts towards expanding trade and investment under the aegis of African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
According to him, AGOA is a scheme initiated by the U.S. government in May 2000 to assist the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and improve economic relations between U.S and the region.
“Nigeria is actually one of the biggest African markets, it recorded remarkable growth in the trade relations in 2017, but most from the oil sector.
“It went from about 3.4 billion dollars to six billion dollars from the oil sector and also looks at other areas such as the agriculture sector.
‘`They indeed had some growth in agriculture sector but the contribution to GDP is small which is from three million dollars to nine million dollars in 2017, when compared to oil export.
“This is challenge that we see in countries that mostly depend on oil, this is the need for them to diversify and develop export in other areas.
“The key for Nigeria is diversification, which is always interested in oil, but I think in order to spread well, Nigeria needs to diversify to other sectors,’’ he said.
AGOA was earlier initiated to last for 15-years, but the AGOA legislation was extended in 2015 to another 10 years, until September 2025.
He identified some advantages of AGOA to include provision of tangible incentives for Africa countries to continue their efforts, open their economies and build free markets.
He commended Ethiopia and Madagascar to be one of major countries that recorded highest economic growth within the African continent, in terms of diversification on the scheme.
He cautioned against the practice by countries always wanting to do business abroad, rather than create enabling market for local products to hinder growth of trans-border export trade.
Sullivan said doing export business in the U.S. often posed difficulty because African nations need to find markets and meet requirement for sales of good products, in line with international standard.
“The key for Nigeria is domestication; if you want to export to the U.S., we are always interested in crude oil.
“To go global, Nigeria needs to diversify into agricultural products by exporting more of agricultural products such as textiles; foot wears among others can lead to industrialisation.
“The most interesting thing is that Nigeria has a larger population and the larger market in Africa as well as in the ECOWAS region!” Sullivan said.