Nigeria Minister of Trade and Investment Dr Olusegun Aganga, has called on the United States of America to focus on trade and investment in the non-oil sector for sustainable economic growth in Africa. He made the call on Monday at the 7TH U.S.-Nigeria Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council meeting in Abuja . The minister said that the meeting served as an avenue for both countries to address specific trade and investment matters. He described Nigeria as the largest trading partner of the U.S. mainly in oil and gas. Aganga urged the council to take the opportunity of the meeting to explore areas in the non-oil and gas sector for mutual benefits.
“This meeting is far more significant because we all have a unique opportunity to make that big change and come up with policies and actions that will help transform our economies and the global economy. Nigeria is the United States’ biggest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa. This is largely due to the high level of trade in petroleum products which accounts for nearly 46 per cent of Nigeria’s daily oil production. This ranks Nigeria as the 5th largest exporter of oil to the United States of America,’’ he said.
According to Aganga, this indicates clearly that Nigeria and the U.S. bilateral trading activities for now evolve around oil and gas. He stressed the need for accelerated growth in non-oil trade between the two countries to enhance inclusive economic growth and development. “It is important that we make concerted efforts to exploit the strengths inherent in both economies; to create employment to generate wealth and enhance economic growth.
“We must turn the nation’s resource advantage and investment opportunities into economic fortune and the U.S.-Nigeria TIFA provides a good window for achieving this,’’ the minister said. Aganga decried the trade imbalance that existed between Africa and developed countries and called on the council to review the policies to achieve a balance on both sides. The United States is the world’s number one in manufacturing and that is where United States can assist Africa much more. Today, Africa contributes only three per cent of the world’s trade; not because Africa is not exporting.
“It is because Africa for many years, has remained at the bottom end of the value chain. It has been a continent that has produced raw materials and sent into the world processed in the developed economies and then sold back to Africa. We buy them at higher prices; that is not a good trade, Aganga explained. He observed that there was no country that had successfully moved from being a poor nation to becoming rich by relying only on exporting raw materials. Such nation must have a strong industrial and service sector just like America has done.’’
He called on western nations to incorporate Nigeria into such collaborative efforts to enable it achieve growth and development. “That is one aim that the TIFA needs to try and achieve. The minister expressed Nigeria’s readiness to take advantage of the opportunities to explore the non-oil sector to boost economic development. In her remarks, U.S. Trade Representative for Africa, Florizelle Liser, reiterated the importance of Africa to the U.S. as a valid trade partner.
Liser expressed optimism that the U.S. Policy toward sub-Saharan Africa would create opportunities “for lifting countries out of poverty and giving people hope for a better way of life.’’ She added that the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) and TIFA served as tools to promote increased trade with sub-Saharan Africa in non-oil value added products.
“Our TIFAs are another important tool that the United States uses to strengthen the links between trade and economic development strategies, encourage greater foreign investment, and promote economic integration and growth. She said that the council would review areas that both countries needed to work together and assured of the continued support of the U.S. in that area of development. Mr Jim McAnulty, Chargé D’Affaires, U.S. Embassy paid tribute to the important role Nigeria played in the economic growth of the sub-region. McAnulty said that Nigeria, being the fastest growing and most dynamic economies in Africa, served as an important trade partner to the U.S.
“A prosperous Nigeria promotes stability; our discussions today will focus on finding ways to encourage increased and diversified bilateral trade and investment between U.S. and Nigeria,’’ he said. TIFA, a U.S. initiative was signed by the two countries in 2000 to establish a framework of structured dialogue in trade. It includes intellectual property rights, flow of investment and partnerships for cooperation between the two countries.