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Belgium explores areas of economic cooperation with Nigeria

By Geoff Iyatse
09 October 2020   |   3:16 am
The Belgian Embassy is currently exploring new areas of cooperation, to expand the existing bilateral relations between the European country and Nigeria.

Belgian Honorary Consul in Lagos, Laurent Backx (left); MD/CEO, Nigeria Ports Authority, Ms Usman Bala; Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria, Daniel Bertrand; and Director, Political and Economic Affairs, Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium in Nigeria, Stef Commers, during the ambassador’s visit to NPA, in Lagos.

The Belgian Embassy is currently exploring new areas of cooperation, to expand the existing bilateral relations between the European country and Nigeria.

The new Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria, Daniel Bertrand, disclosed this when he spoke with The Guardian about his plans during a visit to Lagos.

Bertrand, during the four-day visit, paid a courtesy call to the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and other relevant organisations.

He also met with the Belgian business community in Lagos, on how their expertise in key sectors could be leveraged to help Nigeria “explores its huge potential”.

The diplomat, who is a month-old in Nigeria, will also visit the Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade, to continue the discussion of his priorities and areas of mutual benefits.

Bertrand said Belgium would bring to bear its firm belief in an open economy and robust trade infrastructure in its renewed interest in Nigeria’s business environment.

He listed agriculture, infrastructure, and construction as areas Belgian companies have bet their stakes, noting that they could “do better in those sectors and many more” for the benefits of both the investors and Nigeria’s economy.

“We want to promote commerce and trade. We are genuinely interested in the country, and we will continue to look at how the two countries can continue to collaborate,” he said.

In December, Bertrand will open an Honorary Consulate in Lagos, to serve as a “meeting point” between the Belgian community in Lagos and Nigerians, who are interested in doing business with the country. The office, he added, will give directions to the trade relation template he is planning.

“It will serve as a meeting point and forum to discuss relevant issues regularly,” he said.

Bertrand, who was previously an envoy to Mali, said Belgian companies in Nigeria “have the potential to do better” than they are currently doing.

According to the Ambassador, Nigeria is not well known in Belgium, a reason he sees the consultation he has embarked upon as a very important starting point in his effort to promote the host country back home.

He continued: “Relationship is excellent from a political point of view. From the economic angle, we will continue to build the relationship. Belgian companies in Nigeria have a very good opinion about their Nigerian associates. The potential is here, and we need to go ahead. This is why I am here.

“The transformation of agriculture is important. Infrastructure, information communication technology (ICT), and construction have huge potential in Nigeria. These are some of the sectors, but I think it is too early to have a clear picture of the specifics. My part is to promote the opportunities to Belgium and Belgian companies.

Belgium has a tradition of doing good business in Nigeria. We will continue to build on that tradition.”

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