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WATIF advocates removal of barriers to bilateral ties



In a bid to aid bilateral ties between Nigeria and other African countries, the West Africa Trade and Investment Forum (WATIF) has tasked stakeholders on the removal of trade barriers for improved collaboration, regional development and economic impact.

Speaking at WATIF first conference and exhibition held in Lagos, recently, the Director, WATIF, Michele Branco-Aiyegbusi said they are optimistic about the genuine efforts put towards integration and collaboration in boosting the economic standing of Africa globally.

She stressed that the maiden event focused on education and skills development, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), agriculture and manufacturing as areas for which to address the issues of barriers to trade and development.

She was optimistic that stakeholders in the sub-region would proffer solutions and strategies that are implementable within the four sectors.

Branco-Aiyegbusi said WATIF 2018 theme; “Enhancing Collaboration for Regional Development and Economic Impact” came right on the heels of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement signed a few days ago by 44 African countries in Kigali, Rwanda.

“So, looking beyond WATIF 2018, what do we see? We see intra-regional collaboration. We see integration of technology, systems and policies that will facilitate ease of trade across borders.

We see intra-regional and international investment opportunities from joint and consolidated efforts; we see purpose and resilience to return to our first place of pride and nationhood where there is less reliance on foreign-made goods and services, but rather promotion of goods, services and innovations that originated from us” she added.

In a similar vein, Lagos State Deputy Governor, Idiat Oluranti Adebule represented by the permanent secretary of the state, Yetunde Odejaiye said as Nigeria seeks sustainable reforms to diversify its economy, the coming together of key players with focus on the four critical sectors which will help the region enhance the prospects of generating ideas that will promote the growth of nation’s economy and that of the West Africa sub region.

She said the event is a potent forum to help harness opportunities that exist in the countries and find a common ground to help in utilizing these opportunities to boost the economies of the West African sub-region.

She added that the challenge posed by decline in crude oil revenue presents an opportunity for Nigerians in the country and across West Africa to shift attention to other sectors for sustainable wealth generation and job creation for the people.

“In Lagos state, we remain committed in making our state an economic hub that will be first among others.

To boost direct investment into the Lagos economy, we created the ‘Lagos Global’ initiative through the auspice of the Lagos State Office of Overseas Affairs and investment.

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