Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard
The United States and Nigeria: Strategic Partners
The U.S. established diplomatic relations with Nigeria in 1960, following Nigeria’s independence from the United Kingdom. Nigeria is the largest economy and most populous country in Africa. In the 2015 presidential elections, for the first time in the country’s history, an opposition party won the presidency and control of the National Assembly in generally clean and transparent elections. Notwithstanding important steps forward on consolidating democracy, the country continues to face the formidable challenges of terrorist attacks, inter-communal conflicts, crime and kidnapping, and public mistrust of the government. Nigeria has yet to develop effective systems to address corruption, poverty, and ineffective social service delivery. The U.S. continues to support Nigerian institutions and the Nigerian people in their efforts to conduct free, fair, transparent, and peaceful elections, the results of which reflect the will of the Nigerian people.
U.S. Assistance to Nigeria
Through U.S. assistance in Nigeria, the U.S. Government works to protect Americans from terrorism and disease, create opportunity for trade and investment, and support a more stable and prosperous country that is a partner in advancing our global priorities. Through U.S. foreign assistance, the U.S. Government is supporting Nigerian efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, promote good governance and counter corruption, and improve security while addressing the factors that drive conflict and providing life-saving assistance to those affected by terrorism. U.S. assistance also aims to build institutional capacity in the provision of health and education services and increase agricultural productivity and food security.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The U.S. is the largest foreign investor in Nigeria, with U.S. foreign direct investment concentrated largely in the petroleum/mining and wholesale trade sectors. At $2.2 billion in 2017, Nigeria is the second largest U.S. export destination in Sub-Saharan Africa. The U.S. and Nigeria have a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement. In 2017, the two-way trade in goods between the U.S. and Nigeria totaled over $9 billion. U.S. exports to Nigeria include wheat, vehicles, machinery, kerosene, lubricating oils, jet fuel, civilian aircraft, and plastics. Nigerian exports to the U.S. included crude oil, cocoa, cashew nuts, and animal feed. Nigeria is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.