26 September 2016, Washington — THE Federal Government has pleaded with the United States to lift its ban on the importation of Nigeria’s crude, describing the action as antithetical to the flourish of trade and economic cooperation upon which Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, AGOA, was founded.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who made the plea, also told the American government to demonstrate a stronger commitment to improved economic ties with African nations through balanced trade relations.
Senator Ngige made the plea at a Ministerial Roundtable meeting on Africa Growth and Opportunity Act at the Department of Labour Building, Washington D.C, United States.
He said the stoppage of Nigeria’s crude importation had led to low foreign exchange receipts and consequent technical recession in some African countries.
Ngige, who led Nigeria’s delegation at the meeting to the roundtable, titled Trade and Worker Rights: Inclusive Economic Growth in Africa Through Trade on the Day One of the Roundtable, said the capacity of Nigeria to tackle anti-labour practices, such as child labour, cheap labour and human trafficking, was being hampered by dwindling resources, which the stoppage of the import of the Nigerian crude by the US had accentuated.
He said poverty at the low-income levels made the fight against anti-labour practices at the base difficult. He urged the US to assist African countries in the entire agricultural value food chain of production, processing and preservation as well as give increase educational assistance to farmers.
He said: “The founding idea of AGOA is to foster a symbiotic economic cooperation between Africa and the United States. However, the capacity of the Africa nations such as Nigeria to effectively tap into the full potentials of the body is being checkmated by limited resources. “There is need therefore for America to rethink initiatives that once made AGOA attractive to African countries.
“Rescinding her decision on Nigerian crude is one of such steps that could be taken to buoy up our economy and regain enough capacity to protect workers rights and promote decent work in an inclusive economic growth.
“The US must do more to assist junior partners by extending some labour projects and technical aide being executed in some African countries such as Madagascar, Zambia and Kenya to Nigeria.”
Speaking further on Nigeria’s initiatives for improving internationally recognized workers right, the Minister said Nigeria had ratified and domesticated eight core conventions of the International Labour Organization, ILO, dealing with child rights and fair labour practices, drawing the attention of the international community to the strong backing for fundamental freedoms and labour rights enshrined in the constitution, especially in section 40.
Earlier in his address of welcome, the US Secretary of Labour, Tom Perez, pledged the commitment of the United States to the growth of AGOA and urged African countries to strive towards the recognition of workers rights as an essential element of inclusive economic growth.
*Jonbosco Agbarakwu – Vanguard