Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has urged the Peoples Republic of China to open more opportunities for Nigeria to benefit from the bilateral trade agreement between the two countries.
Speaking when he received a delegation from Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led by Mr Ji Pieding in his office, he said at the moment, Nigeria is barely getting economic benefits from the partnership between the two countries, while China, on the other hand, enjoys patronage from the government and people of Nigeria.
While acknowledging that both countries are not at par when it comes to production, he urged China to help Nigeria develop its market by bringing more of its production plants to the country.
“As representatives of the people, we must always point out the fact that the balance of trade between Nigeria and China is really, I don’t want to use the word skewed, but for want of better word, I will say it is tilted in favour of China and for obvious reasons. We can’t pretend to compete with China when it comes to production. We are just starting, we are building the foundation and the infrastructure that we need to be able to produce things we can export and earn foreign exchange but China has a dominant position when it comes to the issue of trade between China and Nigeria and we want that to be better.
“As we serve as consumers, we should be able to export some things to China. In my engagement with the ambassador I told him that for those things that economics of scales determine Chinese businesses can make in Nigeria, we should encourage or open a corridor by which we can attract those businesses into Nigeria and there is huge market. Even if we are not exporting to any part of Africa, 180 million people is a market you will find very difficult to saturate with products.
“And I said if we start looking towards this, it is going to help our relationship move forward. China, of course, is very strong. In Africa, we speak with adages and proverbs, and we say a strong man doesn’t run alone. When he runs, he pulls others along. Anytime you see a strong man running alone, it is a sign of weakness.
Like they say in other places, together we are stronger and so, China should try to pull others alongside as they move forward and I hope Nigeria will be one of those countries China will pull along.”
The Speaker also informed the delegation that Nigeria has made far reaching changes towards sanitising its business environment and making it attractive to investors.
“Nigeria, with the elections in 2015, has been able to sanitise our business environment, we’ve cleaned up our statutes books; some of the laws that were major hindrances, we’ve eliminated them. I think even in the area of ease of doing business, Nigeria is doing very well because there is a presidential committee chaired by our vice president and they’ve taken a look at those bottlenecks, red-tapism and all those things that dragged us back when it came to business and they are being addressed and Nigeria has moved in the ranking of ease of doing business by almost 44 places and that is commendable.
“So the point I am trying to make is that for your business community, for your corporate citizens, there are places for them in Nigeria. Obviously, there are Chinese nationals involved in the mining sector which is very informal right now, it is not organised. We have them playing key roles in the energy sector as well as other sectors of the economy. You are already aware of the railway situation in Nigeria.”
Earlier, the head of the delegation of Chinese Foreign Affairs ministry Mr Ji Pieding, expressed gratitude for the One China policy of the federal government, adding that China is ready to embrace African continent in general and Nigeria in particular for development.