President Muhammadu Buhari has called on Nigerian and Chinese business communities to work hard to reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries currently in China’s favour.
A statement issued in Abuja by Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, said Buhari made the call while speaking at a Nigeria-China Business/Investment Forum in Beijing, China, on Tuesday.
President Buhari said that trade and economic relations between the two countries must be mutually beneficial and conducted with respect and trust.
“Although the Nigerian and Chinese business communities have recorded tremendous successes in bilateral trade, there is a large trade imbalance in favour of China as Chinese exports represent some 80 per cent of the total bilateral trade volumes.
“This gap needs to be reduced. “Therefore, I would like to challenge the business communities in both countries to work together to reduce the trade imbalance. “You must also imbibe the spirit of having a mutually beneficial relationship in your business transactions.
“You must not see Nigeria as a consumer market alone, but as an investment destination where goods can be manufactured and consumed locally,’’ he said.
The president said that his administration was committed to supporting investors that were ready to establish manufacturing and processing facilities in Nigeria.
“Last year, during our meeting in New York, President Xi Jinping and I agreed to explore ways of practical cooperation in trade, investment, finance, human resources, agriculture and fishing.
“We also agreed to strengthen industrial capacity cooperation in the manufacture of cars, household appliances, construction materials, textiles, food processing and others. “This is in line with our government’s focus on import substitution through the creation of a diversified and inclusive economy that will meet most of our consumption needs.’’
The president said that the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment was working on projects and programmes that would correct the wrongs of the past and enhance the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
He said that the ministry’s efforts would be complemented by investment tax incentive programmes, public sector reform initiatives as well as zero tolerance on corruption.
President Buhari said that his administration had embarked on an aggressive, but realistic infrastructure development programme that formed the backbone of the economic diversification policy of the government.
“We are embarking on major power, road, rail, seaport and airport development programmes that will enhance the competitiveness of manufacturing businesses in Nigeria.
“The future is bright and I am very confident that our policies will make Nigeria the investment destination of your choice,’’ President Buhari told the Chinese investors.
The President also assured them that his administration was doing everything possible to address concerns about security in Nigeria. President Buhari said that to consolidate on recent successes against Boko Haram, close to 20 per cent of the 2016 budget had been allocated to the Ministries of Defence and Interior and as well as other security agencies.
“We are committed to protecting all lives and property within our borders. You can therefore be rest assured that your investments in Nigeria will be safe and secure,’’ he said.
Trade between Nigeria and China has grown astronomically in the last decade with bilateral trade volumes rising from 2.8 billion dollars in 2005 to 14.9 billion dollars in 2015.
Nigeria accounted for 8.3 per cent of total trade volume between China and Africa and 42 per cent of the total trade volume between China and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries in 2015. (NAN)