Nigeria, Vietnam to address trade barriers, increase investment
•As stakeholders chat leeway to grow partnership
A high level delegation from Nigeria and Vietnam as well as other stakeholders, yesterday, in Abuja, insisted that unless current barriers affecting investment inflow between the two countries are addressed, increasing volume of trade may not be realised. While most delegates from Vietnam are seeking for investment protection, incentives and businesses with direct government backing, those from Nigeria decried some trade disputes, which had trapped some exported goods in Vietnam ports.
They urged Nigerians to not only export raw material to the Asia country, but focus on value addition as well as legal businesses.As at 2018, trade between the countries was below $400 million. Nigeria’s export to Vietnam, mainly raw materials especially cashew nuts was about $232.65 million, while it imported from Vietnam goods worth $71.18million, mostly mobile phones, electronics, textiles, plastic, chemicals, and machinery parts.
While Vietnam is currently the largest export destination for Nigerian cashew kernels with average yearly exports of $3.4 million, the Asia country is at the same time Nigeria’s largest competitor on a global scale.
Speaking at the event, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Niyi Adebayo, said the current move is critical to Nigeria’s efforts on economic diversification, adding that the development would also boost government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).Represented by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Edet Akpan, he stressed the need to boost such opportunities, protect investments from Vietnam, particularly setting up factories that would process raw materials locally.
Adebayo, who urged Vietnam to take advantage of the business opportunities in Nigeria, assured that government would do everything to protect foreign investments,noting that signing bilateral trade agreement between the two nations was feasible.On incentives for investment, the Minister said Nigeria is ready to give tax holiday, while investors can repatriate their fund and bring in as many expatriates required to work.
President of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Prince Adetokunbo Kayode, recalled that Nigeria established diplomatic ties with Vietnam in 1976, and in 2005, entered into an Agreement on Economic, Commercial, Cultural, Scientific and Technological Co-operation with it.He urged Vietnam to support Nigeria to add value to products before exporting to the Asian country, while the Federal Government supports local businesses to add value to create more jobs and boost economic outlook.
“We are exporting raw cocoa and cashew. It is a shame. If I have my way, I will not allow anyone to do that,” Kayode said.He said there was a need to work with the commercial arbitration centre to address imminent issues in trade deals, adding that the country must comply with international trade regulations, especially for sensitive products to avoid confiscation of goods.
Kayode also urged Nigeria and Vietnam to create more areas of economic cooperation in sectors like oil and gas, maritime, mining, construction, power, agriculture, cement, transportation, engineering, telecommunications, and education, and to establish joint projects, like economic zones for local companies in Nigeria.
Managing Director, Bank of Agriculture, Dr. Kabir Mohammed, said Nigeria stands to gain a lot from Vietnam in the current move to grow rice locally.
“We can learn from their agricultural value chain. We could get high breed quality, especially for rice and cashew. The relationship will also expose us to machinery we can use in processing rice and cashew nut,” he said.This, he said will help Nigeria to reduce cost in the priority agricultural area that government is developing.