President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in Beijing called on the Nigerian and Chinese business communities to work harder to reduce the trade imbalance between both countries, which is currently in China’s favour.
Speaking at the opening of a Nigeria-China Business/Investment Forum, President Buhari said that trade and economic relations between both countries must be mutually-beneficial and conducted with reciprocated respect and trust.
In a statement by his Special Adviser Media & Publicity Femi Adesina, Buhari said: “Although the Nigerian and Chinese business communities have recorded tremendous successes in bilateral trade, there is a large trade imbalance in favour of China as Chinese exports represent some 80 per cent of the total bilateral trade volumes. This gap needs to be reduced.
“Therefore, I would like to challenge the business communities in both countries to work together to reduce the trade imbalance.
“You must also imbibe the spirit of having a mutually beneficial relationship in your business transactions. You must not see Nigeria as a consumer market alone, but as an investment destination where goods can be manufactured and consumed locally,” President Buhari told the gathering.
The President said that his administration was committed to supporting investors that were ready to establish manufacturing and processing facilities in Nigeria.
“Last year during our meeting in New York, President Xi Jinping and I agreed to explore ways of practical cooperation in trade, investment, finance, human resources, agriculture and fishing.
“We also agreed to strengthen industrial capacity cooperation in the manufacture of cars, household appliances, construction materials, textiles, food processing, and others.
“This is in line with our government’s focus on import substitution through the creation of a diversified and inclusive economy that will meet most of our consumption needs.
“Already, our Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment is working on projects and programmes that will correct the wrongs of the past and enhance the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
“The ministry’s efforts will be complemented by investment tax incentive programmes, public sector reform initiatives as well as our zero tolerance stance on corruption.
“We also have an aggressive but realistic infrastructure development programme that forms the backbone of our economic diversification policy. We are embarking on major power, road, rail, seaport and airport development programmes that will enhance the competitiveness of manufacturing businesses in Nigeria.
“The future is bright and I am very confident that our policies will make Nigeria the investment destination of your choice,” President Buhari told the Chinese investors.
The President also assured them that his administration was doing everything possible to address concerns about security in Nigeria.
President Buhari said that to consolidate on recent successes against Boko Haram, close to 20 per cent of the 2016-budgetted expenditure has been allocated to the Ministries of Defence and Interior and as well as other security agencies.
“We are committed to protecting all lives and property within our borders. You can therefore be rest assured that your investments in Nigeria will be safe and secure,” he said.
Business and trade relations between Nigeria and China have grown astronomically in the last decade with bilateral trade volumes rising from USD2.8 billion in 2005 to USD14.9 billion in 2015.
Nigeria accounted for 8.3 per cent of the total trade volume between China and Africa and 42 per cent of the total trade volume between China and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries in 2015.