Shehu and other officials
By Valentine Amanze
The Nigeria-Russia trade volume has increased from $300 million to $600 million in three years.
The Nigerian Ambassador to Russia, Prof Abdullahi Shehu, disclosed this at the Nigeria-Russia Business Forum in Lagos.
He explaind that the trade favoured the Russian government due to the massive exportation of machinery into Nigeria, stressing that plans were underway to encourage Nigerian manufacturers to export finished products taking cognisance of standards for product competitiveness.
Shehu said that efforts were also ongoing by the Nigerian government to balance the trade between both countries.
He pointed out that Nigeria and Russia have bilateral trade ties aimed at fostering relations between both countries in the agriculture, oil and gas and security equipment sectors.
The ambassador explained that the objective of the mission was to interact with Nigerian businesses and understand the market systems to mitigate risks and promote bilateral relationships in several sectors of the Nigerian economy.
He said that Nigeria’s position as the entry point for Russia and other businesses to Africa, stressing that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would also guarantee high returns on investments.
He said that a key area beneficial to the tie was steel development; an important component of industrialisation of any country with significant contribution to Gross Domestic Product, employment creation among others.
Shehu also lauded the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in providing reforms aimed at creating better Nigerian business environment and improving its ease of doing business ranking.
He, however, charged government to pay more attention to insecurity and corruption to further drive investment and enable the country take its rightful position in the comity of nations.
Shehu urged Nigerians in the diaspora to continue to support the country with not only remittances but strong investments to drive economic growth and development.
“Economic diplomacy is a main thrust of our foreign policy and we have galvanised the skills, expertise of Nigerians abroad through foreign direct investments to drive economic development.
“Within the framework of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+), Russia is a country we must engage with being one of the largest oil and gas business dealers in the world.
“In the area of security, Russia has great potential that can assist Nigeria in its current situations but diplomacy means the country has to be invited before it can interfere.
“Lagos because of its strategic location as an export state and proximity to raw materials, market, port etc is positioned as a choice state for investments.
“I’m sure that this partnership is beneficial to all and we believe we can maximize our national resources to drive sustainable economic growth and development,” he said.
Deputy President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr Knut Ulvmoen, said that the Nigerian business environment had improved remarkably.
This, he said, was following government’s resolve through the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) to eliminate structural bottlenecks to the ease of doing business.
Ulvmoen said that the country’s business landscape offered numerous opportunities for potential and existing investors to expand their investment commitment or new investors planning to bring fresh investments into the country.
He said that areas of opportunities included favorable demography, high population, diversification efforts, and strong financial markets.
“Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa, with a nominal GDP of about $450 billion and its huge economic size has attracted several international investors across the globe.
“The economy is largely diversified in terms of activities across industrial, services and agricultural sectors.
“The economy demonstrated resilience amid pandemic disruptions in year 2020 by exiting recession quicker than expected.
“The government has showed commitment to critical reforms including the passage of Petroleum Industry Bill and the unification of exchange rate.
“These reforms are expected to accelerate the pace of output recovery and improve the country’s medium-term economic outlook.
“So, the advantages of doing and localising business in the country is numerous,” he said.
The Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora (NIDO) Russia, Mr Samson Uwem, the said that exposure to Russian business and vice versa would engender technology exchange, and technical training of personnel.
Umem urged government to further tackle issues hindering trade and investments in Nigeria to encourage more Russian companies partner and localise production in Nigeria.
“This trip is beneficial to Nigeria as it provides technological products, an advantage the country needs to exploit.
“It also allows Russian businesses see and meet with the Nigerian businesses particularly in the Small and Medium Enterprises space,” he said.
Mr Ivan Klevstov, the chief executive officer (CEO), Metalwork, Russia, expressed readiness to explore the Nigerian market and develop strategy of presence in Nigeria.
“Metalwork trading house is part of Euroasian group that provide services in housing, industrial fixture, electronics, oil drilling, security system among others from several Russia based companies.
“We are looking to open stations for technical support for Russia manufacturers in Nigeria to help Nigerians get spare parts and other services from Russia on time,” he said.