Amb. Marian Katagum, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, made this known on Tuesday in Abuja while inaugurating the planning committee for the ministerial meeting of the third UK-Nigeria Economic Development Forum (EDF).

The third forum which is scheduled to hold in Nigeria in March 2020 will provide an opportunity to showcase Nigeria’s expanding investment opportunities.

Katagum noted that the goal of the ministerial meeting was to address the challenges faced by both countries to remove critical market access barriers.

Katagum said that the UK and Nigeria had a long trade and investment relationship with a lot of potential to expand.

She, however, observed that there were a number of constraints from outside bothering on investment business environment, high transport and logistics cost and other barriers which affected specific sectors of the economy.

She underscored the fact that United Kingdom accounted for 2.7 per cent of total goods exported from Nigeria and 3.8 per cent of total imports into Nigeria.

Also, the minister explained that Nigeria’s exports were undiversified, as oil and gas alone represented 95 per cent of the country’s export.

She further said that Nigeria’s imports from the UK were more diversified than export to the UK and refined oil alone represented 15 per cent of Nigeria’s oil from the UK.

“That low competitiveness also remains the most major constraints affecting bilateral and other trades and investment opportunities in Nigeria.

“However, despite the tangible evidence of strong economic relations and synergies between both countries, the volume of trade and investment between Nigeria and UK is below our potential,” she said.

She recalled that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Adeniyi Adebayo, attended the second ministerial meeting of the UK-Nigeria EDF held in London on Oct. 10, 2019 where the governments of UK and Nigeria restated the strategic importance of their bilateral economic ties.

She highlighted that at the end of the second meeting, positive actions taken by both countries acknowledged trade standards, business linkages, financial and business services, micro insurance and investment promotion.

According to her, both countries agreed to work together to generate maximum benefit as our trade relationship has not realised maximum potential.

She said that based on that it was agreed in the second meeting that Nigeria would host the third ministerial meeting of the UK-Nigeria EDF in the first quarter of 2020.

She said that the Nigeria enlarged stakeholders also met on Jan. 30, to take stock of in-house progress made by relevant stakeholders and recommendations which would form part of the discussions at the forthcoming third EDF meeting.

“As we plan our discussions with the UK it is important to consider the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) as it affects Nigeria.

“We need to plan strategically to ensure that Nigeria benefit positively from its relation with UK.’’

She tasked the committee to ensure proper planning in the area of logistics, protocol, publicity, media coverage, and to establish and facilitate good development contact with UK stakeholders.

In an address, Dr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, Permanent Secretary of the ministry stated that the UK-EDF would be an opportunity to clearly highlight Nigeria’s expectations from the UK and vice-versa.

As the country is gearing up to host this event, it is important to acknowledge that the third ministerial meeting of the UK-Nigeria EDF is coming at a significant time when both countries must reaffirm strengthened commitments, especially with the Brexit deal.

“Nigeria’s strategic economic importance to the UK must be constantly reviewed and safeguarded. It is our expectation that such strategic partnership will lead to win-win outcomes for both countries and their citizens,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, at the recently concluded UK-Africa Investment Summit in London called for a review of Nigeria’s trade ties with the United Kingdom to guarantee mutual economic benefits to both nations.

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According to the Permanent Secretary, the economic ties are necessary in view of the certainty of Brexit and as Commonwealth Nations, such as Nigeria, would now have to work closer with a post-European Union UK.

He acknowledged the efforts of the UK government and its economic support to Nigeria over the years, and equally expressed hope that the trade ties would continue with tangible deliverables.

Responding, Mr Suleiman Audu, Deputy Director, Permanent Secretary Office (PSO) thanked the Federal Government for reposing confidence in the members of the committee to achieve the aim of the forum.