EU countries strengthen trade, investment ties with Nigeria

Policy makers in European countries have said that in spite of the slow growth in the advanced economies, the Nigerian economy, which has continued to grow at about seven percent in the last 10 years, present huge opportunities for savvy investors to leverage on.

The leaders of some of the strongest EU countries agreed after meetings with the Nigerian Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr. Olusegun Aganga, that trade and investment ties between their countries and Nigeria must be strengthened at this critical phase of the World economic history for the benefit of Nigeria and their countries alike.

The President of the Republic of Finland, Mr. Sauli Niinisto, who received Aganga in Helsinki, Finland, said there was a new world emerging in favour of African economies, noting that Nigeria’s indices were particularly impressive.

He said Finland would put machineries in motion to ensure that economic ties between Nigeria and Finland were strengthened and to directly or indirectly support Finnish companies to invest in Nigeria. The result of the trade and investment collaboration, he said, could only be beneficial to both countries.

The Minister of European Affairs and Foreign Trade, Finland, Mr. Alexander Stubb, who disclosed that bilateral trade between Nigeria and Finland was currently 23 million euro, added that the two countries must begin to explore their comparative and competitive advantages for a win-win trade and investment relationship.

Stubb said only three EU countries, including Finland,  were rated “triple A” by international rating agencies, adding that anyone doing business with Finland had nothing to fear because “a Finnish handshake is something you can trust.”

As the first step in the efforts towards strong economic ties with Nigeria, Stubb said he would lead a trade delegation to Nigeria as early as possible in 2013.

Aganga, however, said that the 23 million Euro trade between Nigeria and Finland was poor, urging the business delegation from both countries to come up with sound ideas and strategies to increase activities and enhance inclusive economic growth in Nigeria.

“In Nigeria, the administration of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is doing everything possible to make the Nigerian environment friendlier for businesses to thrive. Unlike in the developed economies, where the situation is generally low growth, low returns, in Nigeria, the story are that of high growth, high returns,” he said.

On her part, the Minister of Enterprise, Sweden, Ms. Annie Loof, said on Thursday in Stockholm, during a meeting with her Nigerian counterpart, Olusegun Aganga, that manufacturing contribution to GDP in Sweden was 25% while 80% of global technology in mining was from Swedish companies.

She added that Sweden was EU’s largest producer of iron ore, reiterating that the current trend in the global economy provided a good opportunity for Nigeria and Sweden to harness their respective strengths for strong, sustainable growth.

She noted that 99 per cent of companies in Sweden were Small and Medium Enterprises, adding that the government was working on a holistic strategy to see that there was more of innovation in SMEs.

The minister commended the Nigerian government for putting in place the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan, which among others, is also linked to innovation and skills development, saying that it was in tune with the needs of economies at this critical period.

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