THOUGH Nigeria is a major oil-producing country, it continues to import petroleum products while efforts to diversify the economy are apparently not yielding much.
Nigeria’s oil import from the United States (U.S.), for instance, has increased, thereby worsening the trade imbalance between the two countries.
The just-released fact sheet of U.S.-Nigeria trade made available to The Guardian and a corresponding table of official figures by the U.S. embassy in Abuja show that the import of petroleum products into Nigeria, which was $185 million in 2009, rose to $531 million in 2011.
According to the fact sheet, Nigeria’s oil export to the U.S. in 2009 was $19,022 million. It rose to $530,410 million and then dropped to $33,587 million in 2011, representing a very marginal increase between 2010 and 2011.
Vehicle import is also growing. Nigeria imported $703 million worth of vehicles from the U.S. in 2009. It rose to $766 million in 2010 and reached $1.016 billion last year.
The items of reckoning that Nigeria imports from the U.S. include wheat, drilling equipment, industrial engines, aircraft/engine and spares, plastic materials, industrial machines, excavating machinery, oil, finished metal shapes, electric apparatuses.
Penultimate week, Washington announced a new strategy for dealing with sub-Saharan Africa. The new strategy, according to a statement from the State Department, also intends to spur economic growth, trade and investment as well as promoting opportunity and development.
In January 2009, just as U.S. President Barack Obama was being inaugurated, expectations were high on Africa with Nigerian officials interpreting the event well beyond the euphoria of the moment.
Former American presidential hopeful, Rev. Jesse Jackson, was among discussants, including high-flying intellectuals such as Dr. Pearl Alice- Merd, Dr. Sulayman Nyang, Ambassador Princeton Lyman, Dr. Gwendolyn Mikell, Dr. Whitney Schneidman and Gary Loster.
Friends of Nigeria called for a second White House conference on Africa as well as the revitalisation of the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA). They sought genuine trade and partnership as opposed to “mere grants and hand-outs.”
Responding to concerns raised by The Guardian on Nigeria’s state of trade with a major country like the U.S., Dr. Oshita Oshita of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (ICPR), Abuja, maintained that “Nigeria’s trade with other countries is a function of factors that include the focus on oil and gas as the main export and source of revenue for Nigeria.”
According to him, “the failure of government to provide targeted and sustained support for local industries to develop alternative product lines needed in other countries, lack of government capacity to monitor funds directed at Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to strengthen their capacity to engage in competitive export business as well as difficulty in accessing finance and credit facilities by manufacturers and exporters, especially the SMEs, are the main causes of Nigeria’s unbalanced trade with partnering countries.”
“There is also insecurity and impunity, poor or lack of support for infrastructure such as electricity and cheap and efficient transportation,” he added.
Oshita also cited what he called “unstable tax regimes on export”, which adds to the cost of business.
“Worse of all, Nigeria’s trade with the United States (U.S.) has not improved in the last decade, despite the 15 years moratorium offered by the U.S. under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), 2000-2015. With over 6,400 product lines covered by AGOA, Nigeria has continued to look to oil and gas as the focus for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), less than three years to the end of the AGOA regime.”
On how Nigeria’s trade with other countries could improve, he said: “A good infrastructural base is a sine qua non for industrial growth. Realising the Vision 20-2020 would have a leap if agricultural produce, including shea butter, cashew nuts, ginger, gum arabic, sesame seed, cassava and yam flour, cocoa bean, rubber, etc., can be made a deliberate export focus. The growing insecurity due to violent community conflicts, Boko Haram insurgency, kidnappings, robberies, among others, must be addressed. Corruption is a disincentive and must be dealt with to encourage genuine economic actors to participate in business.”
|< Prev||Next >|