Nigeria’s export entrepreneurs should get set for another opportunity to enter American market as the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), has re-introduced the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) visa stamp to non-oil exporters.
This, according to the NEPC, was to ensure that exporters in the country participate and benefit more from the AGOA Act before it expires in 2025.
AGOA, an act of parliament that was passed by the United State Congress in 2000, also referred to as Trade and Development Act, was designed to assist economies of sub-Saharan Africa and to improve economic relations between the United States and the region.
Speaking at the NEPC workshop on AGOA Visa Stamp utilisation in Lagos, the Executive Director, NEPC, Olusegun Awolowo, who was represented by the Deputy Director, National Office on Trade, Saave Nanakaan said AGOA is also meant to forge stronger commercial ties between Nigeria as well as other qualified African countries and the United States; while it helps to integrate these African countries into the global economy.He said the extension of the scheme to 2025, was because many African economies like Rwanda and Uganda performed better than Nigeria under the scheme.
He explained that Visa Stamp, which was introduced on the 18th January 2016, and took effect from 8th February of the same year, was another step to further simplify US market access of textiles and garments from AGOA-eligible countries.
Under the process, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has directed U.S. 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.
Textile and apparel goods from an AGOA beneficiary country will only receive preferential duty treatment once a visa arrangement is established. Visas are issued by the government of beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries.
“Statistics suggest a positive balance of trade for AGOA participant countries against the US. For Nigeria, this balance of payment does not reflect our real potential. 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.
“I, therefore, challenge you not to let this opportunity slip or pass you by. Learn about AGOA Visa Stamp today, seize it and let the US market become a Nigerian market for textiles and garments,” Awolowo said.
The Economic Officer, US embassy Abuja, Kate Kaetzer Hodson, equally charged Nigerians to avail themselves of the opportunity available in the AGOA scheme to build companies in Nigeria and eventually create jobs for the younger generations.