12 November 2012, Sweetcrude/African Press Organization (APO)/ VIENNA, Austria — Austrian Vice-Chancellor, Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger was pleased that the bilateral agreement on promoting and protecting investments between Austria and Nigeria was initialled at the Ministry today after extended negotiations: “My visit to Nigeria last June also had a distinct economic background. I am happy that we have succeeded in closing the investment agreement with my Nigerian ministerial colleague Olugbenga Ashiru as agreed during my visit.”
Nigeria is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. While the export of crude oil is the country’s most important source of income, the growth of the economy is traditionally based on the non-petrol sector, in particular services, the building sector, banking, trade and tourism. Austrian exports to Nigeria increased by 15 percent in the first half of 2012, with the largest share achieved by machines and lace and embroideries from Vorarlberg.
“We intend to step up our economic relations with Nigeria. Sufficient security for Austrian investors and entrepreneurs is a prerequisite for achieving this. The investment protection agreement is an important step, which will secure the involvement of Austrian companies in this country offering such great potential”, Spindelegger said. The Foreign Minister stressed that the initialled text covers requests made by representatives of the Austrian economy and also states that foreign investment of companies must comply with international human rights, labour and environmental standards in a responsible manner as also with the international anti-corruption standards.
The Nigerian delegation included representatives of the foreign, finance, trade, investment and justice ministries as well as the National Bank. The negotiations in the Foreign Ministry were held on the basis of an Austrian model text that was developed in a broad-based participatory process with the involvement of the social partners and academic experts. In European and international comparison the text is considered as a state-of-the-art role model.
Bilateral investment protection agreements protect Austrian investors abroad from disadvantages compared to local and other foreign investors and from dispossession without compensation. This is of great importance above all for small and medium-sized Austrian companies that venture a step abroad. These agreements also include the option of calling at an international court of arbitration in addition to national courts in the event of disputes.
It is planned to officially sign the agreement during a visit of the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs to Austria in 2013.