The United States of America Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, at the weekend, disclosed that Nigeria would continue to be eligible for preferential trade access to the US market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
A statement by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment said that Leonard, on a visit to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, had said Nigeria became eligible after a review of the criteria set by the US Congress under AGOA.
According to her, the criteria for eligibility among others included the establishment of a market-based economy, rule of law, political pluralism, right to due process, fair trial, equal protection under the law, elimination of barriers to US trade and investment, economic policies to reduce poverty, a system to combat corruption and bribery, and protection of internationally recognised workers’ rights, the statement disclosed.
AGOA criteria also required the benefitting country to respect internationally-recognised human rights.
Leonard noted that during the AGOA eligibility review, the US government noted the progress Nigeria had made to diversify and strengthen the market-based economy, poverty reduction, reforms in the power sector, raising electricity tariffs and implementing the Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan.
The US ambassador, however, expressed her government concern on the availability and accessibility of US firms to forex, particularly their ability to repatriate revenue and fulfill loan obligations in timely manner, child labour and respect for the rule of law, the statement further said.
In his response, the Minister, who expressed his happiness with the US government report which allowed Nigeria to continue to enjoy preferential trade access to the US market, said the report was an affirmation of the progress the country was making to reposition the economy for better performance.
He explained that the Federal Government had established the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council under the chairmanship of the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and himself to improve the business environment.
He assured that the government would continue to do everything within its power to deepen trade relations between the two countries.
He promised to convey the concerns of the US government to affected agencies of government, some of which were not under the control of his ministry.
AGOA is a trade policy of the United States which allows 6,000 products to be exported to the US, duty-free.
Many countries in Africa are exporting finished products to the US through the instrumentality of AGOA.