By Franklin Alli
The Federal Government and the United Kingdom are working to double their bilateral trade to N2 trillion by the year 2014. The current value of trade between the two nations stands at £4 billion (about N960 billion).
Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga and the Secretary, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, United Kingdom, Dr. Vince Cable noted that the two countries have identified the factors militating against bilateral trade effective trade, saying that they are now being addressed to ensure the actualisation of the 2014 deadline.
Aganga explained that issues of barriers to trade were being looked into, in addition to the strategies aimed at reviving the Small and Medium Enterprises sector as well as the Diaspora.
He said the meeting between the Ministry of Trade and Investment and its counterpart in the United Kingdom was a follow up to an earlier discussion between the leaders of the two countries, President Goodluck Jonathan and David Cameron, where they agreed to increase the volume of trade by 100 per cent.
“We have had a useful business to business roundtable, which is a follow up to the meeting between President Goodluck Jonathan and David Cameron, where they both set a target to double trade in the two countries by the year 2014.
“There is no shortage of interest in investment in Nigeria. We have all it takes to attract investment. We are making the environment friendlier. We have fertile land, good weather condition, 34 solid minerals in commercial quantity, all of which make Nigeria an investment destination of choice,” he said.
Aganga stressed that the Ministry of Trade and Investment was focusing on SMEs and other growth drivers to engender inclusive economic growth and translate Nigeria’s seven per cent Gross Domestic Product growth into actual improvement in the standard of living of Nigerians.
“By 2014 to 2015, things will change because we are working seriously to change the environment in terms of infrastructure and power generation in particular,” the minister said.
Also speaking at the meeting, Cable explained that the focus of the United Kingdom in terms of its trade relation with Nigeria was not the issue of which country led in the volume of trade, but an assurance of trade growth between both countries.
“We do not worry if there is an imbalance against the United Kingdom. If we do not import crude oil from Nigeria, we could import from other countries. The important thing is that trade is growing in both directions. That is the key because it is mutually beneficial. We want to see barriers being removed,” he added.
Meanwhile, prior to the press briefing, the two ministers had an interactive session with leading companies (in the construction, fashion and textile, education and creative sectors, among others), both from the United Kingdom and Nigeria on the right collaboration that will increase trade between both countries and empower Nigerians.