Titus Olowokere, President of the US-Africa Trade Council, elaborated on Nigeria’s favourable trade balance with the US, attributing this notable shift to the surge in non-oil exports.
During an exclusive interview with BusinessDay on Wednesday, Olowokere underscored the significance of this transformation in trade dynamics.
In 2022, Nigeria’s exports to the US surpassed US exports to Nigeria by $5.4 billion, marking the first time in over a decade that Africa’s largest economy experienced a trade surplus.
This monumental shift signifies a remarkable evolution in their trade relationship, potentially opening new avenues for economic growth and stability.
“The key driver to this shift in the balance of trade is the growth of the non-oil sector,” Olowokere said. “Before now, when oil was the mainstay of the economy, attention shifted away from the non-oil sector.”
The head of the US-Africa Trade Council highlighted that the oil and gas sector’s underutilization, plagued by systemic corruption, hindered the full potential of crude oil.
He had good words for the Federal Government, praising them for investing a lot of money and other resources in growing the non-oil sector.
Olowokere said, “The government has, in fairness, put a lot of effort and money into growing the non-oil sector—one. To grow the export business, the government has been giving a lot of incentives to make it easier for exporters to do what they need to do.”
He stressed the importance of accessing the vast export market in the US and other developed nations, which, according to the trade expert, has led to the expansion of the hibiscus flower export industry.
He said, “Hibiscus flowers have been exported in large quantities to the US. They process it locally, but they also use it globally to make hibiscus tea, which is known to have some medicinal effects.
“Also, very common things, like shea butter, for instance, have not received so much attention. Cocoa production actually nosedived for several years, and now it is picking up in many areas.
“We are still the largest supplier of cassava in the world today, and even in other areas, we have improved significantly in areas where we have not been very active. That has driven more of that shift in balance of trade.”