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Beyond AGOA, US unveils Proper Africa to deepen ties with Nigeria, others

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Container-laden vessel arriving the port

The United States of America has unveiled an initiative called ‘Prosper Africa’ through which it aims to substantially increase two-way trade and investment with Nigeria and other African countries.

Prosper Africa aims to reverse the United States’ eroding ground in African markets by providing technical assistance for U.S. and African companies in order to double two-way trade and investment. It includes a special focus on transparent markets and private enterprise as the foundations of economic growth and job creation.

Hitherto, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a United States Trade Act extended till 2025, enhances market access to the US for qualifying Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries.

Speaking on the initiative in Lagos, recently, the President and CEO Corporate Council on Africa, Florie Liser, explained that the initiative seeks to enhance bilateral ties between the United States and many African countries, adding that it aims to promote prosperity, security, and stability in US-Africa relations.

The initiative by the US confirms the Trump administration’s prioritisation of trade and investment to reach the three stated objectives and to get into the commercial game on a continent where combined consumer and business spending is expected to reach US$6.7 trillion (more than N$94 trillion) by 2030.

Considering China’s success in doing business on the continent has been driven by its high and diverse financial flows, U.S. officials see Prosper Africa as an innovative method of engaging with African leaders and entrepreneurs through a coordinated effort among U.S. agencies—with less reference to China.

“With things that are developing here in Africa; a regional market that has over billion people, free trade area, growth of the labour market through young people, essentially, you cannot ignore the African market and opportunities. Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa. You can’t talk about growing your business globally without Africa and you cannot talk about business in Africa without Nigeria.

“U.S. companies have been coming to Africa to invest and looking for partners for long time like the GE. I don’t think that what he (President Trump) said about the current approach to Africa largely impacts what companies are doing. What they are looking for is the right environment that will facilitate and promote their investment into the country and provide them with the certainty, rule of law, and they will be able to get their resources at some point”, she added.

On performance of many African countries to AGOA, Liser said: “A number of African counties really haven’t taken full advantage opportunity of AGOA and Nigeria is of them. You export oil and more of value added agricultural products to the US. Nigeria could do such more with leather products like footwear, apparel, considering the country has had a textile industry here for a long time. You have not taken advantage of AGOA shipping these products.

“There are lots of opportunities, there are five and half years left. So, with zero oil policy that has been put in place and efforts of the government to improve the ease if doing business up to 16 points on the World Bank doing business score, this is a good time to attract investment in Nigeria in the non-oil sectors”, she said.

Executive Vice President for Programs, Creative Associates International, Earl Gast, noted that the private sector is exploring how to make the initiative work in Nigeria, being a major player in the continent.

With the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) coming on board, Gast noted that having a larger market created under the trade deal will be of interest to US investors seeking to expand their frontiers in African markets.


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