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U.S., Nigeria Meet for 8th Round of TIFA

On Wednesday, officials from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) met with their counterparts from Nigeria for the eighth round of negotiations of the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Council (TIFA).

The discussions between the two nations were wide-ranging. According to a press release from the USTR, they focused on “improving market access, utilization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), protection of intellectual property rights, implementation of the new WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, and improving the bilateral investment climate.” Michael Froman, the U.S. Trade Representative, led the negotiation with Dr. Olusegun O. Aganga, Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment.

The TIFA council is charged with promoting trade and investment between the U.S. and Nigeria, and improving relations between the two nations. While the TIFA encourages “sound trade policies,” “investment to Nigeria,” and “sustainable and inclusive development,” it also aims to strengthen the overall diplomatic ties between both countries. The U.S. and Nigeria signed the TIFA in 2000.

As Africa increases its profile as an apparel and textile exporter, and as a cotton producer, particularly in East Africa, retailers have been pushing for the renewal of the Agricultural Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), an important part of the discussions between the U.S. and Nigeria. Originally signed into law in 2000 by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, the AGOA is generally interpreted as an important spur to trade between the U.S. and sub-Saharan nations. Many experts estimate that the program has led to the creation of as many as 300,000 jobs in Africa.

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U.S. imports from AGOA nations totaled $70.6 billion in 2011, an astonishing 59 percent increase over the previous year. More than 93 percent of all AGOA products entered the U.S. market duty-free during that period. As a whole, Africa’s economy grew approximately 5 percent in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Africa’s exports, according to statistics issued by the World Bank, has spiked by more than 200 percent over the last ten years. Still, the continent has suffered from the lack of a sophisticated industrial base and the productive capacity necessary to remain competitive. The current demand for fabric, especially in the sub-Saharan market, far exceeds its present production capacity and supply. The AGOA has called for further regional investment in weaving, spinning and dyeing. The AGOA’s proposed strategies have produced particularly impressive results in Ethiopia.

Trade between the U.S. and Nigeria reached $18.2 billion in 2013. U.S. imports from Nigeria totaled $11.7 billion, most of which was from crude oil. The most significant non-oil import from Nigeria is leather. U.S. foreign investment in Nigeria was $8.1 billion in 2012, up 53.6% from 2011.