‘Poor handling of export potential threatening non-oil revenue drive’

Chief Olabintan Famutimi

Attempts by the Federal Government to boost revenue through non-oil products may remain elusive, unless Nigeria takes advantage of the opportunities offered by African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), President, Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), Olabintan Famutimi has said.

Famutimi, who accused the federal government of poor handling of export potential, said despite the huge resources in the country, Nigeria only exported about $1.2 million worth of products through the trade agreement to the U.S. in 2014.

Speaking during a business roundtable meeting alongside the Deputy Assistant Secretary, US Commercial Service for Middle East and Africa, Seward Jones in Lagos, Famutimi said: “Nigeria is not taking full advantage of AGOA. There is lack of information and the culprits are usually are the government people.”

Signed into law by the U.S. Congress in 2000, AGOA is a preferential trade agreement that grant free-duty export programme to increase market access to Nigeria and 38 other eligible sub-Saharan African countries to export about 7, 000 products to the U.S.

Warning that Nigeria may still miss out in the opportunities offered by the initiative despite being extended to 2025, Famutimi stated that poor business environment continue to hinder Nigerians, particularly the Small and Medium Scale enterprises to leverage opportunities in the U.S.

He said the government could be deceiving itself if oil products are continuously listed under AGOA.Famutimi said: “When you say AGOA, remove oil from it, because crude oil has always been taken to the US under AGOA. My argument over the years is, ‘Don’t calculate crude oil under AGOA.”

Jones urged Nigeria to increase awareness that would debunk the negative image the country has earned in the international community, particularly in the U.S.To him, “The average America believes that there are things going on in Nigeria. People have a wrong impression about Nigeria and this is what we need to overcome.”

While the US look forward to doing business in Nigeria, Nigeria must improve on ease of doing business, transparency, and places where the customs would not harass them unnecessarily, Jones added.

Also speaking at the event, Commercial Service Counsellor, US Consulate in Nigeria, Brent Omdahl said: “The US perspective is that we have given you AGOA; we have given you the opportunity, it is left for you to take advantage,” Omdahl said, adding that many companies in the US were willing to do business with Nigeria and urging the government to improve transparency and ease of doing business.”

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