Business Hilights
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AGOA: Nigeria ‘joking’ with economic diversification drive—-US

The Acting Director for United States Economic and Regional Affairs, Mr. Harry Sullivan, has scored the federal government low in its ongoing economic diversification, saying Nigeria must get very serious with economic diversification “without further delay”.

According to him, the nation’s over-dependence on oil is hindering economic growth.

Sullivan made the observation during his call in a teleconference with newsmen organized by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy, and advised on the need to create an enabling environment for processing of agricultural products to enable such products sale in the international market.

He stressed 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).

In his further submission, the official recalled that Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (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.

He said “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.

Business Hilights recalled that AGOA was earlier initiated to last for 15-years, but the legislation was extended in 2015 to another 10 years, until September 2025.

Sullivan 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.

While commending Ethiopia and Madagascar as countries that recorded highest economic growth within the African continent, in terms of diversification on the scheme, he warned 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.

“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!” the US official averred.

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