Crusoe Osagie and Damilola Oyedele
The Federal Government and the United Kingdom Mondaystated that they had reached the final stages in the plan by the two countries to double international trade between them by the year 2014.
Also, the level of trade between Nigeria and Canada has risen from $700 million in 2007 up to $3 billion in 2012, a development aided by the recent establishment of a Bi-National Commission (BNC) between the two countries.
This is as Canada donated an undisclosed amount of money to assist Nigeria towards the rehabilitation of those affected by floods across the country.
With the current value of trade between the two nations standing at £4 billion (about N960 billion), both countries expressed optimism over the steps being taken to raise the figure to £8 billion (N1.9 trillion) by 2014.
Addressing a joint press conference the Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, and the United Kingdom Secretary, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Dr. Vince Cable, disclosed that the factors militating against effective trade between the two countries had been identified and were now being addressed to ensure the achievement of 2014 deadline.
Identifying the areas being worked on by the two countries, Aganga explained that issues of barriers to trade were being looked into, as well as the Small and Medium Enterprises sector and the Diaspora group.
He said the meeting between Nigeria and the United Kingdom yesterday was a follow up to an earlier discussion between the leaders of the two countries, Goodluck Jonathan and David Cameron where they agreed to increase the volume of trade by 100 per cent.
Also speaking at the meeting, Cable explained that the focus of the United Kingdom in its trade relation with Nigeria is not the issue of which country leads in the volume of trade, but an assurance of trade growth in both countries.
“We do not worry if there is an in balance 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.”
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru presented these figures at the inaugural meeting of the BNC in Abuja, Monday.
He expressed hope that more Canadian firms would invest in Nigeria just as Manitoba has done in the power sector.
Both nations, he said, have enjoyed a good relationship due to a shared history of being Commonwealth nations and shared values of good governance, democracy and human rights.
“Nigeria faces some challenges in the area of security. It is a situation we did not expect and we are depending on friendly countries to assist us,” Ashiru said.
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. John Baird, expressed condolences to the government and people of Nigeria over the recent loss of four Nigerian peacekeepers in Sudan.
He disclosed that the two countries would expand their cooperation in the fight against international terrorism as Nigeria takes on a larger role on the sub region.
“Nigeria and Canada have a relationship that is rife with opportunity when it comes to economic, social and security cooperation. We know that security and prosperity go hand in hand,” Baird said.
At the end of the inaugural meeting co- chaired by both Ministers, a communique was signed on behalf of both countries to foster cooperation.
The communique agreed that the BNC would be the platform for constructive dialogue and framework for more cooperation especially in the area of trade.
It also read that Canada would assist ECOWAS’s bid to restore stability to Mali and Guinea Bissau and assist in the protection of the Gulf of Guinea.
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