Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr. Segun Awolowo, has said that African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which has helped to integrate African countries into the global economy was extended to 2025 because many African countries, including Nigeria, did not maximize its benefits.
The Executive Director NEPC who was represented by the Deputy Director, National Office Export NEPC, Mr. Saave Nanakaan, made the observation in his opening remark in Lagos at the workshop on the utilization of AGOA Visa Stamp, organized by the South West Regional Office.
According to him, the smaller African economies like Rwanda and Uganda performed better than Nigeria under the AGOA scheme.
Awolowo noted that Visa Stamp, which was introduced on the 18th January, 2016, and took effect from 8th February of the same year is another step to further simplify US market access of textile and garments from AGOA eligible countries.
"Under the process, the office of the US Trade Representative has directed US Customs and Border Protection to permit importers to submit electronic images of appropriate export visas when claiming preferential treatment for textile and apparel products under the Act," he explained.
The NEPC ED added that the textile and apparel goods from AGOA beneficiary country will only receive preferential duty treatment once a visa arrangement is established. Visas are issued by the governments of beneficiary sub-Sahara African countries, he said.
"Our exporters really need to do better, thank God AGOA is still available till 2025 and we can still take advantage of it. This is the essence of this workshop: to let our companies understand the operation of the Visa Stamp and fully seize the window of opportunities that this Act presents," he added.
In her good will message, Minister for State, Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, Aisha Abubakar, who was represented by Mr. Aliu Abubakar urged non-oil exporters to exploit opportunities in the Visa Stamp scheme to gain market access.
According to her, to access new markets, non-oil exporters must be willing to operate in line with global best standards and also leverage opportunities on AGOA to present their competitive edge to potential customers and businesses.
Also speaking, Babatunde Faleke, Regional Director, NEPC, Lagos, expressed concern about the low level of participation of Nigerian players in the global market space, adding that the Council was poised to change the narrative.