23 September 2014, Lagos – The European Union (EU) weekend announced that it was working with Nigeria to shop for 60 billion Euros investment flow into the giant West African economy, towards bridging the huge gap in business and infrastructure.
Ambassador of the EU to Nigeria and the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), Michel Arrion, who dropped the hint, stated that, to help Nigeria attain the massive leap in foreign investment inflow, the EU will be channelling most of the 600 million Euros earmarked for the country for the next five years, towards developing a favourable business environments in the various economics sectors, in order to make the country attractive to ready European investment.
According to him, “There is high interest being shown by serious European investors in the Nigerian economy because the size and growth rate of the economy is very good but the operating environment in most sectors need to be fine tuned and that is what we will spend a good portion our budget addressing, so that this private funds can flow in from the EU into Nigeria”
He said this objective is one of the main reasons for the EU-Nigeria third business summit, which starts today in Lagos.
Arrion said, the summit is expected to provide a platform for private sector participants to gather essential market information, identify business opportunities and connect key players to viable business opportunities obtainable in Nigeria and European countries.
He said this year’s event with the theme, “Time for Private Sector”, aims to consolidate on the gains of the 2012 and 2013 editions, and also focusing on specific economic agenda of EU, Nigeria and ECOWAS to identify the role of private sector support.
According to him, the EU is currently implementing, together with Nigeria, a support strategy and also targeting health, nutrition and resilience, sustainable energy and access to electricity, as well as governance and rule of law.
He stated that at regional levels, the EU’s support will focus on regional integration which will include regional infrastructure, resilience peace and security.
“In critical areas, such as trade-related infrastructure, electricity, health and nutrition, the EU is calling for a closer partnership with the private sector, in line with the conclusions of the 4th EU-Africa summit held in Brussels in April 2014 and the road map 2014-2017, which tasks the EU and African countries to promote private-sector led responsible investment,” he added.
According to Arrion, the private sector’s contribution will be sought at all stages, starting from programming, down to implementation of EU funded projects and throughout its overall engagement with Nigeria and ECOWAS.
This move, he said, is in line with the objectives of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) endorsed by ECOWAS Heads of State in Accra earlier this year.
“Though Nigeria maintains a positive trade balance with the EU and the EU remains the biggest market for both oil and non-oil exports, it is imperative to address the EU-Nigeria relation towards a more diversified composition and a strengthened ECOWAS regional market. The EPA will be a critical instrument in achieving these goals,” he said.
He noted that Nigeria is no doubt central to the growth of the continent, adding that the economy has continued to grow at an average of seven per cent over the last 10 years attributing the growth to be driven by the non-oil sector of the economy.
Furthermore, he said, the recent GDP rebasing exercise has propelled Nigeria to become the largest economy in Africa, maintaining that the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) outperformed most capital markets in 2013.
“Your banking sector has remained stable after the 2009 crisis, FDI flows and remittances from the diaspora remain significant. These positive indicators point to an increased global confidence in the Nigerian economy in response to ongoing reforms,” the ambassador said.
Arrion pointed out that the relationship of the European Union with Nigeria is broad and deep, saying that Nigeria being one of the biggest diaspora communities in Europe is also one of the most frequent destinations of European investment and businessmen in Africa.
He added that EU is Nigeria’s largest trading partner accounting for 35.4 per cent of its exports worth 82.4 billion Euros and 30 per cent of its imports worth 43.4 billion Euros.
“Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) stock by EU countries in Nigeria grew from N5.3 trillion in 2011 to N5.7 trillion in 2012. In 2013 alone, the total EU-Nigeria trade stood at N8.5 trillion. EU imports from Nigeria were valued at N6 trillion while EU exports to Nigeria stood at N2.5 trillion,” Arrion stressed.
– This Day