Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga
By Damilola Oyedele
Some impediments as to why Nigerians have not been able to cash in on the benefits of the US Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation (AGOA) have been identified, as the annual Forum gets underway in Washington DC, in USA.
These include poor infrastructure ranging from transportation models, communication, and a lack of intergovernmental strategy.
Disclosing these, Director of African Affairs in the office of the US Trade Representative, Mr. Patrick Dean Coleman, while speaking with journalists across the African continent via teleconference, noted that the problem was not limited to Nigeria alone.
He however added that since African countries enjoy the advantage of the diversity of trade, their governments are responsible for providing these infrastructure such as rail transport to be able to compete adequately in the global economy.
Also speaking, Regional Director for sub-Saharan Africa in the US Trade and Development Agency, Mr. Paul Marin recommended the AGOA-Africa business forum, which would commence soon in Ohio as a platform for small and medium businessmen to be familiarised with the workings and potentials offered by the unilateral trade agreement.
This year’s forum, he added, would focus on four factors; transport, energy, tele-communications and other hard infrastructure, to improve Africa’s competitiveness and promote regional and US-sub-Saharan African trade.
It would also provide a platform for discourse on the advancement of Africa’s regional economic integration efforts by promotion regulatory harmonisation, trade facilitation and strategic development of regional transportation alongside power generation capacity, telecommunications and other infrastructure services that promote integrated /larger markets, cross border production and regional value chains.
The AGOA forum brings together over 600 participants, including senior US and African officials as well as members of the private sector and civil society. AGOA represents a progressive US trade and investment policy towards the continent working to reduce barriers to trade, increase diversified exports, create jobs and expand opportunities for Africans, according to the concept paper.
It provides trade preferences to 40 sub-Saharan African countries that are making progress in economic and political reforms.
Since its establishment nine years ago, two-way trade between the two parties has grown to $82.1 billion in 2010 and AGOA exports to United States have increased to $44.3 billion.
Exports from sub-Saharan Africa in 2011 amounted to $74.2 billion with Nigeria topping the list with $33.7 billion mainly from crude oil sales and Chad at the bottom of the list with $3.1 billion also from crude oil sales.