Minister of Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga
By Damilola Oyedele
The Export-Import (EXIM) Bank of the United States has provided the sum of $1.5 billion as loans for American businesses interested in investing in Nigeria.
However, only about $300m has been utilised from the beginning of 2012.
The Project Director of the Tricontinental Group (USA), Mr. Funsho Abiri, said this in Abuja Wednesday while briefing newsmen on the August 2012 Nigeria-America Business and Investment Summit in Atlanta, Georgia.
Abiri added that there was a deliberate policy by the American government to provide a soft landing for its firms which are interested in Nigeria as the business environments in Europe and North America are already saturated.
He called on state governors to send delegates to the summit to interact with American businessmen who are interested in investing in Nigeria especially in the transportation sector which the summit would focus on.
On the issue of visas for Nigerians interested in attending the summit, Abiri said the group has already entered into agreements with the US embassy Consulate in Lagos and a day has already been set aside for bloc interviews for those who want to participate.
“The Consulate is assisting because the Americans need Nigerian businesses. So as long as you are a genuine business man, you would be issued a visa. The problem is that Nigeria is not mobilizing its people to take advantage of these opportunities,” he said.
The Acting Director of the Department of Trade and Investment in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Okechukwu Muoh, lamented that many Nigerians did not take advantage of last June’s meeting on the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) in Ohio and Cincinnati, USA.
This, he said was because many Nigerian businessmen did not prepare for the trip well ahead of time and so they could not procure visas in time for the trip; delegates from Nigeria were mostly government officials, he said.
He added that AGOA had been expanded to move away from just being an import and export policy, but to include investments in African countries.
Mouh appealed to Nigerians to always be honest when filling out their visa application forms as any inconsistency results in them being banned from procuring visas and therefore missing out on investment or business exchange deals.
“Nigeria’s foreign policy is currently targeted at economic development by attracting investments. Our envoys abroad have that as a mandate in whatever countries they find themselves. The Americans feel more comfortable dealing with Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs believing they know what the international trade standards are,” Muoh said.