The Consul-General of Switzerland in Lagos, Mr Yves Nicolet, on Wednesday said that a ‘Nigerian Week’ was recently held in three cantons in Switzerland, to woo more Swiss companies to Nigeria.
Nicolet told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the week was held differently in Switzerland’s Italian, French and German–speaking cantons, to expose Nigeria’s businesses and investment opportunities to them.
The consul-general said that the Nigerian Week, which attracted between 40 to 50 new companies in the various cantons, was also attended by Swiss companies already ‘doing well’ in Nigeria.
“We recently organised a Nigerian Week in different Switzerland’s Italian, French and German-speaking cantons, to expose the huge businesses and investment opportunities in Nigeria to new companies."
“During this week, we were able to interact with these new companies in different sectors on the existing business and investment potential for them in Nigeria."
“What this means is that we really want more of these Swiss companies to come and take advantage of the huge opportunities in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Nicolet said that the invited Swiss companies were from agriculture, healthcare, information technology, banking, construction, mining, oil and gas sectors, pharmaceuticals, food processing, insurance and many others.
The consul-general said that he and other already existing Swiss companies in Nigeria made presentations to explain the existing potential in Nigeria for more Swiss companies.
Nicolet expressed optimism that the presentations and interactions at the Week, would make more Swiss companies in the cantons want to come to do business and invest in Nigeria.
“We are looking forward to hearing from them soon on whether they would be interested in coming to do business or invest in Nigeria."
“But from their turnout, we can say that Nigeria is again on the radar of the Swiss companies,’’ he said. Nicolet said that there was also a plan to organise another delegation of Swiss Companies visit to Nigeria in 2018, as a follow-up to the outcome of the Nigerian Week in the three cantons.
After South Africa, Nigeria is Switzerland’s second-largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa. Nigeria exports mainly crude oil, while Swiss exports primarily comprise machines, pharmaceuticals and other chemical products as well as textiles.
Due to its oil imports, Switzerland has a very negative trade balance with Nigeria. Some 60 to70 Swiss firms are active in Nigeria, mainly in the south of the country. Swiss direct investments amount to about USD 300m, employing about 4,000 people.
An aviation agreement has been in force since 1980. In 2000, Switzerland and Nigeria concluded an agreement on the mutual protection and promotion of investments. In addition, since the 1980s, the two countries have implemented several debt restructuring agreements in Nigeria’s favour.
Switzerland was the first country to return to Nigeria assets embezzled by the former dictator Sani Abacha and his family. The sum totalled USD 700m. The Swiss financial centre has an interest not to become a safe haven for illicitly acquired assets.