The Federal Government on Thursday pledged to make use of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to commence regular shipment of Nigeria’s quality products to the U.S.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Olusegun Aganga, made the pledge at the Small and Medium Enterprises meeting held on the sideline of the ongoing 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa.
Aganga said the ministry was working on a new AGOA strategy that would help boost the export of quality products from the country to the U.S.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that AGOA is a programme by the American Government to allow some Africa countries to export their products to that country duty free.
The programme covers about 6,000 products which are mainly agro-allied based. According to the minister, the push for the extension of the programme for another 15 years by the extra-ordinary session of the AU is apt.
“The extension has become imperative in view of the fact that most countries, including Nigeria have not fully benefited from the initiative,’’ he said. Aganga said the country was now keen on value addition, standards and competitiveness among its entrepreneurs, adding that the attainment of these market elements would create access to American market.
“Also, discussions are ongoing with my U.S. counterpart on how we can partner with them in order fully benefit from the initiative.
“We believe that Nigeria can do far more than it is currently doing under AGOA.
“Although Nigeria exports some agricultural products to the U.S. under AGOA, some of products do not meet the required standards for export to the U.S. market,’’ Aganga said.
On financing the country’s Small and Medium Enterprises, Aganga said the government was working on a number of initiatives to develop and deepen the Private Equity and Venture Capital sector across the country.
“We are working on a number of initiatives that will enhance the financing of the SMEs value chain by developing innovative ways of attracting finance.
“What the government is doing in this regard is to work with the private sector to develop and deepen the Private Equity and Venture Capital sector to enable SMEs have access to cheap funds,’’ he said.
The minister said the country already had about 17million active SMEs, adding, “We stand a better chance of creating more jobs for our teeming population if the sector is well developed.’’
Aganga said further that plans were underway for an initiative that would allow the SMEs to raise capital from the country’s Stock Exchange.
“Currently, we are looking at areas where we can have clusters for SMEs in order to make it easier for them to have shared facilities to boost their productivity,’’ he said.