Brazil, Nigeria crucial strategic partnership
I am very pleased to have visited Nigeria. My great satisfaction is due not only to the fact that Nigeria is a country whose importance to the region and to the international community is well known, but also, particularly, because the Nigerians are a people with whom we share a profound historical, cultural and human connection. In Abuja I had meetings with Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama and with Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Audu Ogbeh, in order to further strengthen our ties, as reflected by our strategic partnership, and to develop joint projects for the development of our two countries.
Our affinity is enhanced by the great creativity Nigerians and Brazilians share, which derives from our common regional, human and cultural diversity. These attributes, present throughout our history, are catalysts for the deep feeling of friendship between our peoples. They constitute a heritage that underpins our relationship.
Brazil has been side by side with Nigeria since its first day as an independent country . Brazil was the only South American country invited to, and present at, Nigerian independence celebrations. It should be emphasized, however, that the links between Brazilians and Nigerians did not begin on that celebrated day of October 1, 1960: their roots date back more than four centuries, to when the ancestors of the Nigerians of today were taken to Brazil and made lasting contributions to the formation of Brazil’s people and culture. In the same way, though on a smaller scale, elements of my country can be seen in Nigeria – in the work of the so-called ‘Brazilian Nigerians’, which includes the ‘Brazilian Quarter’ and, within it, the ‘Water House’ in the city of Lagos. It is from a historical and human perspective, therefore, that we should consider the current strategic partnership between Brazil and Nigeria.
The Brazilian government will continue to invest in an effective and equitable partnership which, built upon the foundations of South-South solidarity, may contribute significantly to the development of our societies and to the strengthening of our countries. We have very similar perceptions and positions on a number of key issues on the international agenda, including the great importance of sustainable development, the need to overcome extreme poverty, the fight against terrorism, and the establishment of fair rules for international trade. In addition, Brazil has been an important partner of Nigeria in our common pursuit to reform the global governance system, including the UN Security Council, so as to make it more representative and effective.
Africa is emerging today as a continent undergoing a dynamic process of political and economic transformation. Since the first decade of this century, it has had rates of economic growth above the world average, and has achieved significant democratic advances. Resisting adversity, Africa will be one of the regions that will drive global economic growth over the coming decades.
In the arena of trade, Nigeria is Brazil’s main partner in West Africa. I am convinced that there is great potential for growth in Nigeria’s economic and trade relations with Brazil, and that the record for bilateral trade that we set in 2014 – US$ 10 billion, of which Nigerian exports were US$ 9.5 billion – can be broken. So it is important to encourage initiatives aimed at promoting trade and investment between our two countries. Last August, in Lagos, we organized, together with local partners, the Brazil-Nigeria Business Forum, attended by businessmen from both countries. The aim was to forge partnerships and cooperation in goods and services, in order to return to those record levels of bilateral trade.
Nigeria is one of the few African countries – and the only one in West Africa – with which we maintain a Strategic Dialogue Mechanism. The first session of this mechanism took place in Brazil in 2013. The purpose of my visit was to further deepen this partnership, consolidating it in the areas of greatest convergence and potential mutual benefits. The sectors of agriculture, defense, energy and trade are particularly promising.
I thus paid this visit to Nigeria against the backdrop of strong historical, cultural, human and commercial ties, built up by generations of Nigerians and Brazilians, with the intent of helping make those ties even stronger.
•Ferreira is Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil.
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