The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, says Nigeria will continue to be eligible for preferential trade access to U.S. market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA.
Ms Leonard said this when she visited the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo.
According to a statement issued on Sunday in Abuja by the minister’s Special Adviser on Media, Ifedayo Sayo, Leonard said that Nigeria became eligible after a review of the criteria set by the US Congress under AGOA.
She said that the criteria for eligibility among other things included the establishment of a market-based economy, rule of law, political pluralism, right to due process, fair trial and equal protection under the law.
“Others are elimination of barriers to U.S. trade and investment, economic policies to reduce poverty, a system to combat corruption and bribery, and protection of internationally recognised workers rights,” she said.
Ms Leonard emphasised that AGOA criteria also required the benefitting country to respect internationally recognised human rights.
According to her, during the AGOA eligibility review, the U.S. government noted the progress Nigeria made to diversify and strengthen the market-based economy.
The U.S. ambassador, however, expressed U.S. government’s concern on the availability and accessibility of U.S. firms to forex.
“This is particularly the ability to repatriate revenue and fulfil loan obligations in timely manner, child labour and respect for the rule of law,” she said.
In his response, Mr Adebayo expressed happiness with the U.S. government’s report which allowed Nigeria to continue to enjoy preferential trade access to the U.S. market.
The minister said that 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, PEBEC, to improve the business environment.
He assured that the government would continue to deepen trade relations between the two countries.
Mr Adebayo promised to convey the concerns of the U.S. government to the affected agencies of government.