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Buhari urges Commonwealth countries to avoid trade wars, canvasses healthier business relationship

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Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari attends a reception at the closing session of the Commonwealth Business Forum at the Guildhall in central London on April 18, 2018, on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM).<br />The Commonwealth Business Forum will discuss practical ways to enhance trade, showcase investment opportunities and promote sustainable development. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS

President Muhammadu Buhari has called on leaders of Commonwealth countries to avoid trade wars and maintain healthier business relationship. 

President Buhari ‎specifically stressed the need for them to work collectively if they are to make business easier between member countries and beyond the Commonwealth.

In a keynote address yesterday, at the Commonwealth Business Forum at Guildhall, London, the president urged the members ‎to work collectively to preserve the global trading order, support regional initiatives as well as domestic structural reforms that focus on the priorities of individual countries.

The president, who reiterated his belief in wealth creation and employment opportunities within the Commonwealth, said “If there is a collective Commonwealth commitment to the ease of doing business, we shall spur growth, multiply wealth and expand employment opportunities.  These objectives will be accelerated by trade and investment facilitation.”

A statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina yesterday said, President Buhari identified trade and investment facilitation to generate resources for sustainable development; Ease of doing business and regional integration that expands markets with safeguards against injurious trade practices from third parties; More inclusive growth with the empowerment of women and the youth, as factors that are capable of making business among Commonwealth countries easier.

He also identified the provision of a platform for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs); A radical expansion of human capital for the 21st Century, what is now known as “Knowledge Economy”; and provision of hard and software infrastructure for the 21stCentury digital economy to boost e-commerce, increase efficiency, solve development problems and enhance cyber security, as other factors necessary for an easier business environment.   

The Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) with the subject “Making Business Easier between Commonwealth Countries” is part of events at this year’s Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting, CHOGM-25.

The President said Nigeria had already started championing this course with events such as the “High-level trade and investment facilitation forum for development” convened by Nigeria in November 2017 in Abuja in partnership with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS):

He also shared the experiences of Nigeria regarding on-going deep and extensive ‘ease of doing business’ reforms, which are being staged under a 60-day National Action Plan. 

The President said these efforts have been acknowledged as evidenced in the World Bank’s ‘Doing business’ report published in November last year, which moved Nigeria up 24 places and recognised the country as one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world. He however said more work needs to be done as we enter the next stage.

President Buhari noted that, “In developing countries, labour and industry are concerned about distortions in trade policies that result in subsidised products which have contributed to exports dumped in developing economies. These have had bad effects in the form of job losses. 

“Growth is not yet inclusive and remains elusive.  There are downside risks about disruptions to trade and investment. Global and regional markets have been considerably rattled by the risks of trade wars.  Concerns over climate change are unabated and are increasing.  There are tasks and duties on all sides.”

President Buhari used the opportunity to call on the Commonwealth Business Forum and prospective investors in the Nigerian economy, to participate in the 2018 “UK/Nigeria Trade and Investment Forum” at the London Stock Exchange.


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