Vice President Yemi Osinbajo - NOVO ISIORO

Nigeria’s vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday said government was determined to increase the level of the country’s trade in the region.

Osinbajo said it was disturbing that while Nigeria’s portion of intra-African trade was just $7.1billion, which is about 5.5 per cent, South Africa’s trade within the continent was about $32billion or 25 per cent.

Speaking in Abuja during an Intra-African Trade Fair engagement session organised by the African Export-Import Bank in collaboration with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, the vice president however assured all that was about to change now.

Underscoring the importance of trade in creating jobs and attracting investments, Osinbajo said despite the volume of informal trade, which may not have been captured, government realised the need to seize this opportunity of the trade fair to promote Nigeria-African trade.

The vice president assured that the country would participate fully at the IATF fair billed for December in Egypt.

“ I would like to assure you that Nigeria will participate effectively at that trade fair and use it effectively as an opportunity to showcase its trade and investment opportunities, which are indeed very vast,” he said.

Also speaking the executive director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr Olusegun Awolowo, said the narrative of trade imbalance must change especially as the country was in vintage position to replace supplies from other regions of the world on some key products.

According to him, looking at the country’s export potential, while regions in Europe, Asia and North America present the greatest potential markets, African sub-regions feature among the top 10 markets.

“We found that four of Africa’s high demand products are among Nigeria’s 11 priority products identified to diversify our export base under our Zero Oil Plan. These export potential products signify investment opportunities along value chains for each sector,” he noted.

Awolowo identified lack of infrastructure as a major problem militating against intra-trade activities in the African continent but was positive that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) would eliminate tariffs on Intra-Africa trade.

Citing a 2017 statistics from the international trade centre which showed that the country accounts for a dismal one per cent in value of African imports from the world, Awolowo added that while it was not encouraging, it demonstrates opportunities and also validates the case for improved intra African trade engagements.

He therefore urged governments to squarely address the transportation deficit within the continent, adding that Nigeria was working towards exporting processed goods.

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