Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce to consolidate bilateral trade — Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the formal inauguration of a Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NRCCI) will consolidate efforts to deepen the long-lasting relationship and invigorate business opportunities.
Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Monday, said the vice president received a delegation of the Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by its President, Obiora Okonkwo, at the Presidential Villa.
The delegation also included representation from the Russian government, including a special envoy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Mr Oleg Ozerov, and the country’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Alexey Shebarshim.
According to the vice president, mutual diplomatic relations between both countries dates back to the 60s.
“After a very extensive period of collaboration between our countries, frankly, I was quite surprised that we don’t already have a Nigeria-Russia Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“I assumed that such a body already existed; it is never too late to do a good thing.
“This is an auspicious time to do so, especially given all of the economic opportunities before us.”
He said the previous meeting of African leaders and Russian business executives in 2019 was an excellent introduction to serious business for African countries with Russia.
Osinbajo said there had been many economic and social engagements, especially in education.
“I think also that there have been several economic relationships that have blossomed for a while and several other business and commercial opportunities that are opening up here and there.
“But I think there is a need to formalise and to have a channel such as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“There is a need for that to happen so that we are better able to build upon what has taken place in the years gone by.
“ This is a very unique opportunity for us to do really good work and to strengthen relations between our countries.”
The Vice President reiterated the support of the Federal Government to ensure that NRCCI, to be inaugurated soon, worked for the benefit of Nigerian businesses and Russian investors and business people.
Earlier, Okonkwo said the visit of the Russian delegation to the country and the courtesy visit to the vice president was a prelude to the formal inauguration of NRCCI.
He said the effort was aimed at improving the already existing relations between both countries across different sectors including commerce and business and exploring new opportunities in technology and infrastructure.
Okonkwo told State House correspondents that Nigeria and Russia had enjoyed great bilateral relations for decades but there was a need for improved and increased economic relations.
“If you look at the records, Russia should actually have Nigeria as number one trading partner but if you look at the statistics, it is indeed very low.
“We think that is has to do with the absence of an entity like chamber of commerce that has a role to facilitate such relationship.
“Recall that there was this Russia-Africa summit that took place in 2019; Russia means well for Africa and Nigeria has to be positioned properly to benefit from the summit.
“The second round of the summit is coming in 2022; so, we want not just to be present; we want to go there prepared for benefits that should be mutual for these countries,’’ he said.
On his part, Ozerov said the formalisation of the pact between Nigeria and Russia was prompted by the need to strengthen relations between both countries especially in the areas of energy, ICT, agriculture, and infrastructure, among others.
Representatives of the Ministries of Industry, Trade and Investment and Foreign Affairs, the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, among other officials were in the delegation.