Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber’s November webinar was held on Thursday, November 18th, 2021. The Guest Speaker was Mr David Russell, the Commercial Attaché at the Lagos Consulate of the United States Embassy who made a presentation on Current Activities of the U.S. Mission in Nigeria.
In his presentation, David Russell stated that the primary goal of the United States Commercial Service (USCS), as the Trade Promotion arm of the US Department of Commerce, was to support US businesses in expanding to various markets, Nigeria inclusive. In doing so, the Service has some tangential effects in supporting Nigerian businesses as well for which NUSA, the Chamber, etc could be useful channels.
The Consulate itself could also provide direct assistance in sourcing whereby businesses could approach the Consulate to source for goods and/or services from the U.S. Therefore, the Consulate’s office serves the purpose of business verifications as well.
In addition, another way to connect to established U.S businesses is by directly connecting to their U.S domestic offices existing in various geographical areas.
He appreciated but expressed his regrets concerning the discomfort businesses currently experience due to an inability to easily secure visas/appointments. However, at the Embassy, only the Consular Service has the capability to effect any major decision concerning visa appointments and issuance generally. Notwithstanding, in exceptional cases, if there were any pressing commercial needs, there are officers within the Commercial Section that could help to appropriately assess the needs and weigh the urgency. However, the final decision would still be with the Consular service.
CAPACITY BUILDING VIA THE USAID WEST-AFRICAN TRADE HUB
This initiative by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provides the opportunity to support U.S businesses a bit more and focus on the development of the Nigerian market for the US as well. An outstanding programme that is still in operation in this regard is the West-African Trade Hub. This programme is strictly operated through USAID as they have their own mandate in supporting African businesses.
This programme basically focusses on SME development and there are investment & and funding opportunities widely available that are dependent on the fulfilment of certain conditions including, but not limited to equity considerations, evaluation of current business level & activities, etc.
David Russell also referred NACC members to the US export facilitation resources such as AGOA on which Nigeria is currently listed, as a beneficiary.
In her own welcome remarks, the President of the Chamber, Dame Adebola Williams noted that a key element of the Chamber’s mandate was to serve as a channel for bilateral trade development between Nigeria and the United States and, to effectively fulfil this mandate, there was a need for the Chamber to properly play its role as a veritable source of information for those seeking information on possible opportunities that exist along the Nigeria/US axis, inclusive of inflows and outflows in terms of products and services.
Further, according to her, the Chamber would continue to engage the US Mission in Nigeria through the Commercial Section in order to adequately keep members abreast on available opportunities that they could tap into. Finally, she looked forward to a joint physical breakfast session with the Embassy sometime in the first quarter of next year for a more robust discussion.
The Chairman of the Chamber’s Programme & Strategy Committee, Mrs Eileen Shaiyen, in her vote of thanks, appreciated the Guest Speaker and all present and pledged further cooperation by the Chamber in working more purposefully with the Commercial Section of the American Embassy, in going forward. Also present at the event were the Deputy-President of the Chamber, Mr, Thomas Osobu and other Board Members including Ambassador Bayo Idowu, Chair of Government & International Liaison Committee; Dr. Violet Abdulkadir, Chair of Trade Mission Committee; Ms. Grace Adeyemo, Chair of AGOA Committee; Aare Kamorudeen Danjuma, Member, Programmes Committee, etc
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