Chamber explores AGOA to lift U.S, Nigeria trade ties

Chief Operating Officer for GE Nigeria, Ahmad Zakari (left); President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lazarus Angbazo; the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle; and General Manager, Supply Chain, GE Africa, Jeffery Sommer, at the site of the GE manufacturing and assembly facility in Calabar.

Chief Operating Officer for GE Nigeria, Ahmad Zakari (left); President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lazarus Angbazo; the U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle; and General Manager, Supply Chain, GE Africa, Jeffery Sommer, at the site of the GE manufacturing and assembly facility in Calabar.

WITH a decline in bilateral trade ties between the United States of America and Nigeria due largely to stoppage of crude oil export to the U.S., the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) has unveiled new plans to explore opportunities under the renewed African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to boost ties between the two nations.

According to the chamber, the move also aligns with the Federal Government’s decision to diversify the economy from its monolithic nature, using the non-oil sector as a driver of the diversification agenda.

Speaking at the presidential/board inauguration and dinner of the chamber in Lagos on Wednesday, the President of the NACC, Chief Olabintan Famutimi explained that the new board of the association will draw on the present tide of goodwill between the two nations to foster closer trade and investment relations among relevant stakeholders in both countries.

He added that the goodwill will further provide improved access to opportunities for improved economic and social relations for America with Nigeria.

While accepting the challenges of office as the new president of the NACC, Famutimi said: “The extension of the AGOA which has proven a powerful tool for the promotion of export of goods from Africa into the USA should be Nigeria’s opportunity to take advantage of, given our enormous material and human resources. Unfortunately, we remain Africa’s least beneficiary of AGOA and the NACC has a key role to play in turning things around positively on AGOA.

“I will not only continue to push for the return of the AGOA desk in Nigeria to the NACC but to ensure that our members and Nigerians generally take advantage of AGOA to promote their business. Efforts are in top gear to ensure that the NACC is brought into the Nigeria-US Bi-National Commission in order to ensure that all high-level discussions between the public and private sectors of both countries directly benefit our customers”.

United States Consul General in Lagos, John Bray, noted that there are untapped potential in the bilateral relations between the two countries adding that the stakeholders should take advantage of the opportunities.

According to him, the countries need to expand areas of business relations between the two countries by making NACC a viable organization to achieve such objective.

Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, identified the United States as Nigeria’s largest investor in the nation’s economy, especially in the mining sector, noting that AGOA scheme is an opportunity to break new grounds for mutually benefitting trade.

Ambode, who was represented by the state’s Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Rotimi Ogunleye, stressed the need for the chamber to champion the diversification agenda under the bilateral ties between the two countries.

According to him, existing bilateral relations should be strengthened to expand opportunities in trade.

Chairman of the occasion, Prince Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi also advocated improved stakeholder relations between the chamber, organized private sector and government ministries in order to champion an effective advocacy agenda.

According to him, the chamber should be a part of the solution rather than the problem, noting that the nation needs to address its challenges, especially in the face of emerging realities.

In his handover speech, immediate past president of the NACC, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, advocated increased advocacy efforts and collaboration with other private sector organisations in ensuring that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration adopts the right economic policies to lift the country from imminent stagnation.

“Luckily, President Buhari has a lot of goodwill from President Barack Obama and indeed from the American people. It is imperative that we take this opportunity to improve trade and bilateral relations. Additionally, we must seek innovative ways to add value to the businesses our members and create friendship and goodwill among all members”, he added.

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