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Cablegate: Nigeria: Key Elites Work Together to Overcome Agoa

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 002032

SIPDIS


STATE PASS TO USTR: USTR FOR WHITAKER AND COLEMAN;
STATE FOR AF/PD, AF/W, AF/RA, AF/EB, IIP/G/AF, IIP/T/ES
(CHRISTISON), PA/PI/OBS/P
LAGOS FOR PAS, ECON, FCS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON KPAO OIIP SCUL NI AGOA
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: KEY ELITES WORK TOGETHER TO OVERCOME AGOA
FAILURES


1. SUMMARY: The Public Affairs Section and the Foreign
Commercial Service of the U.S. Mission in Nigeria organized two
one-day seminars, June 19-20, in Abuja focusing on the Africa
Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The seminars, "AGOA:
Participating in Trade," and "Public-Private Partnership for
Success with AGOA," featured PD-provided speaker Dr. Sharon
Freeman with Fred Oladeinde and Gregory Simpkins of the
Washington-based Foundation for Democracy in Africa and Embassy
Counselor for Commercial Affairs Miguel Pardo de Zela. The
interaction of the speakers with the audience, and the audience
with itself, created a positive dynamic and led to pledges of
follow up between the GON and private sector. Audience
participation included seven Senators from the Committee on
Economic Affairs; senior officials of the Nigeria Customs
Service, Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), and
Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC); officials from
ministries of commerce and industries at state and federal
levels, and leading industrialists and textile industry
representatives from Kano and Kaduna. The seminars also promoted
AGOA-related activities including the July 11-12 Seminar in
Accra, Ghana. End Summary.


GPRA Data:


2. DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITY: More than 140 policymakers and key
players in the Nigerian manufacturing sector participated in the
two days of seminars. The key speaker for the two sessions, Dr.
Sharon Freeman, described AGOA and explained its potential to
enhance growth and productivity. Dr. Freeman said the failure to
date to implement textile visas and trans-shipment laws, and poor
infrastructure, had prevented Nigeria from realizing significant
benefits from AGOA. She encouraged the private and public sector
participants to express their own concerns, and suggested
possible remedies based on her experience promoting the Caribbean
Basin Initiative in the 1980s. Oladeinde and Simpkins addressed
the need for public-private sector interaction. Pardo de Zela
discussed the inevitability of globalization, the need for
Nigerian enterprises to proactively seek out and use available
information and sources of credit, and described how the Foreign
Commercial Service could assist businesses wishing to export to
the U.S.


3. JUSTIFICATION AND OBJECTIVE: During the two years since AGOA
became law, Nigeria has made little progress in increasing
exports to the U.S. Macroeconomic policies which hamper exports,
a lack of commitment by the business community, and poor
infrastructure are among the obstacles to using AGOA to create an
alternative to petroleum as a source of export earnings. These
seminars brought key individuals and institutions together to see
how these problems might be addressed.


4. DATE: June 19-20, 2002, FY 2002, third quarter


5. MPP UMBRELLA THEME AND AUDIENCE REACHED: Economic Development.
Over 140 contacts drawn from relevant Nigerian institutions,
including officials of the Ministry of Commerce, Nigerian Export
Promotion Council, Nigerian Investment Promotion Council, NEXIM
Bank, Nigerian Customs Service, elected officials including
several national legislators and state governors or their
representatives, and private sector representatives from chambers
of commerce, major textile manufacturers, exporters, and non-
governmental organizations engaged in manufacturing attended the
seminar. Regular viewers of Nigeria's national television,
estimated to be several million, and those who read newspapers,
were also part of the audience reached with the AGOA message.


6. NON-USG SUPPORT: None


7. USG SUPPORT: Excellent. Post appreciates Washington's support
in making Dr. Freeman available. The Foreign Commercial Service
was also of great assistance, as was USAID, which had sponsored
Oladeinde and Simpkins and his group in their trip to Nigeria.
Freeman is an articulate speaker. At Post request, she modified
her presentation to promote greater dialogue among the
participants. Her experience in working with Central America gave
her the authority to convince the audience that they could
overcome similar problems facing their export sector.


8. MEDIA REACTION: Dr. Freeman gave a 45-minute interview to
Rhythm Radio, Abuja. The national TV network, NTA, gave her a
60-second soundbite. Lagos-based Vanguard, one of Nigeria's
leading papers, particularly among business readers, ran a three-
quarter-page interview with Dr. Freeman.
Jeter

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