Nigeria's agricultural exports to the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) increased from around $3 million to $9 million in 2017 but the level is still very small, a trade specialist with the Department of State, Ace Gazis, has said.
This is a challenge mostly common in a number of countries that depend heavily on oil, Gazis said while speaking on Nigeria's contribution to AGOA last year via a teleconference in Washington, DC, which was monitored by our correspondent in Abuja.
The trade expert however said Nigeria was among the biggest US trading partners in Africa and saw the largest amount of growth last year.
Nigeria's level of exports under AGOA went up from about $3.4 billion to $6 billion, and most of that growth was in the oil sector, Gazis added.
Giving an update of US economic policy in Africa, the Acting Director for Economic and Regional Affairs in the State Department, Harry Sullivan, said African non-oil exports to the US under AGOA have grown from 1.3 billion in 2001 to 4.2 billion in 2016.
"Total US trade with sub-Saharan Africa rose 16.8%, $33 billion in 2016, to $38.5 billion in 2017.
"US exports to Africa increased 4% to 13.1 billion, while African exports to the United States rose by more than 24% to more than $24 billion," he said.
He said there were some encouraging signs of diversification from oil, with African agricultural exports to the United States rising 10% to $2.7bn in 2017.
On countries' performance, Sullivan said between 2016 and 2017, Ghana saw its exports to the United States more than double, with exports under AGOA quadrupling to more than $300 million.
"Madagascar also registered strong growth in garment exports under AGOA by more than 57% to $152 billion.
"Ethiopian exports under AGOA rose 35% to $92 billion. Countries like Senegal, Rwanda, Namibia and Uganda have also succeeded in boosting overall exports to the United States and exports under AGOA," he said.
He said although the figures are encouraging, the American government is working to expand US-Africa trade.
"So we're continuing to work with African countries to help them reduce impediments to trade, strengthening their enabling environments for investment, and putting in place the right ingredients for the private sector to thrive - both the domestic African private sector and foreign investment.
"Through technical assistance programmes, USAID is helping African countries to reduce trade and investment barriers that have limited the benefits of AGOA, as well as impeding intra-African trade," he said.
He said the US government was working with African countries to try to improve intra-African trade which stands at 12%, compared with 25% in ASEAN and over 60% in the European Union.