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Leverage agric to boost economic growth, US envoy urges govt

Leverage agric to boost economic growth, US envoy urges govt

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The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, has advised the Federal Government to explore opportunities in agriculture and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to boost economic growth and development.

Symington, who stated that many African countries were boosting their agric sector to benefit more from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), urged Nigeria not to be left out.

AGOA is a preferential trade agreement between the US and some eligible sub-Saharan African countries that allows the exportation of certain agric products to the US market tariff and quota-free.

The free-duty export programme essentially seeks to increase market access to Nigeria and 38 other eligible Sub-Saharan African countries to export about 7, 000 product lines to the US market.

Symington spoke at the Annual Dinner and Presidential Inauguration of the 18th President of the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC), Oluwatoyin Akomolafe, held in Lagos, during the week.

He said lack of supportive environment for agriculture in Nigeria and Africa in general was responsible for why the continent’s agric products are not competitive.

He, therefore, advised Nigeria and other African Governments to invest more in infrastructure in order to support their agricultural industries.

The US Ambassador to Nigeria regretted that the country failed to manage her wealth of agric resources since the oil boom era, adding that the mismanagement of her oil resources also stifled economic growth and development.

The US envoy reiterated the need to diversify Nigeria’s economy, noting that this will create more opportunities for NACC members to grow their businesses by exploring, exploiting and leveraging on the trade relations already established by Nigeria and the US.

The Chairman, Honeywell Group, Dr. Oba Otudeko, expressed concern over the low performance of the non-oil sector, noting that Nigerian businesses are not taking advantage of AGOA.

He urged the Federal Government to put necessary measures in place to ensure that non-oil products from Nigeria were duly accepted in the US.

Otudeko, however, described NACC as a major stakeholder in the bilateral economic relations between Nigeria and the US, noting, for instance, that the impressive trade volumes recorded so far could not have been achieved without the chamber’s efforts.

Speaking during the inauguration, Akomolafe said that at the recent Africa Trade and Investment Global Summit and AGOA (ATIGS&AGOA) in Washington DC, there were discussions on how to create better opportunities for trade between the US and Nigerian companies.

He noted that Nigeria’s current economic growth depended on the non-oil sector, particularly construction, telecommunications, wholesale/retail trade, hotel and restaurant services, manufacturing, and agriculture.

The NACC president added that the best way for Nigeria to achieve economic growth is to create public, private partnership with US corporations.

According to him, the development of the non-oil sector was imperative in view of unpredictable oil prices in the international market.

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