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NACC urges govt to embrace AGOA in economic diversification


 Chief Olabintan Famutimi

Chief Olabintan Famutimi

The Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) has urged the Federal Government to take advantage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), as it continues its diversification of the economy.

The National President, Chief Olabintan Famutimi, said this at the NACC’s annual dance and dinner and 56th anniversary held in Lagos at the weekend.

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) is a United States Trade Act, enacted on May 18, 2000, which enhances market access to the U.S. for qualifying sub-Saharan African countries, of which Nigeria is one. To qualify and remain eligible for AGOA, each country must be working to improve its rule of law, human rights, and respect for core labour standards.

According to Olabintan, for Nigeria, which is heavily dependent on oil revenue, there is the need for the government to pursue genuine economic diversification policies to as to take the economy out of the doldrums. In this direction it should take advantage of the AGOA. “If that failed we cannot see change and things would get worse from there.”

He said: “Our major focus now should be on diversifying the economy into more exports and stop relying on crude oil. Luckily for us the American government gave us a platform in the form of AGOA, which permits our products to the United States of America duty-free. Nigeria had never taken advantage of this in the first 15 years. Now, it has been renewed for 10 years more till 2025, so we need to promote Nigeria exports into America.

Olabintan maintained that the government must deliberately drive an export-oriented economy to stimulate export-processing companies, to be located at the free trade zones, where Nigerian products would be inspected for quality so that when exported, they would be acceptable to the Western countries’ markets.He also allayed the fear of Nigerians that the emerging new government in America could affect the ease of doing business.

The NACC chief said: “The coming of a new American government in president-elect Donald Trump, might not change much. Things might not change radically as being feared. The system would not allow it, because America lives on institutions. So, no government would come and change everything. The realities are already dawning on him, making him to tone many of his views down.”

Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who was represented by the Special Adviser on Commerce and Industry, Adeyemi Olabinjo, expressed his support for the economic diversification efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to Ambode, “As a result of the efforts of NACC, Nigeria remains a major United States’ trading partner. I have no doubt that with the ongoing efforts at diversification, the trade relations would become stronger.

“We shall continue to evolve policies and programmes that would promote private investments. This was demonstrated in our proposed 2017 budget, which when approved would lay emphasis on the provision of necessary infrastructure. These are concrete plans to aid commerce and industrial development in the overall economic diversification of our nation,” he said.

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