Nigeria, UK’s trade relations currently worth £7bn – Envoy

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Richard Montgomery
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By Chinenye Offor

Dr Richard Montgomery, the British High Commissioner in Nigeria, on Sunday said trade relations between Nigeria and the United Kingdom (UK) currently stands at about seven billion pounds sterling.

Montgomery told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that Nigeria and the UK signed a new agreement on enhanced trade and investment partnership and agreed to work on a range of sectors.

He identified the sectors as agriculture, the creative industry, legal, financial services, and education.

Montgomery stated that trade between the UK and Nigeria is balanced.

“Trading by both countries is relatively balanced because the UK exports about four billion pounds sterling worth of goods and services to Nigeria while Nigeria exports to the UK about three billion pounds worth of goods .

“We need to do more because if you look at last year’s figure compared to the penultimate, there was not much of an increase in trade volume.

“It was an increase of about two per cent. So trade in the last few years has changed.

“And the aim of our enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership is to boost trade and investment between both countries and also to raise these numbers.

“Nigeria can benefit and take advantage of a new post-Brexit trading agreement that the UK has put in place that is called the Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS).

“This scheme called the DCTS is one of the most generous schemes in the world in the sense that it removes tariffs on thousands of products from across the world to make free trade easier,” he said.

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The envoy said that having visited many parts of Nigeria, the UK realised that Nigeria had at least 3,000, tariff-free products that it could export to the UK.

According to him, the enhanced trade investment partnership signed between the two countries in February is aimed at attracting more investment to the agric sector.

He said Nigeria could boost trade with UK by exporting more of its agric products.

“In agricultural exports, Nigeria can export cashew, cotton, or cocoa from the middle belt.

“There are lots of commercial farmers involved in vegetables, which can be processed, and there is also timber.

“And we think that there’s a big potential for commercial agriculture in the future in Nigeria. You have the land you have the people.

“The new trading scheme should be an opportunity for Nigeria. We can do more in financial and legal services,” he said.

He said that there were new technologies coming into the financial services sector which will greatly enhance the sector.

He added that Nigeria has a huge creative industry which the UK recognises and is interested in.

“London is a good place for partnerships in the creative industry. So we are hoping to promote those areas through partnership,” he said.

He said that two challenges of doing business in the UK that foreigners needed to take cognizance of were lack of knowledge on how to do business and also the standards (non tariff barriers to trade).

He stated that a facility called the growth gateway run by the Department of Business and Trade was provided as a source of advice for anyone that intends to export to the UK.

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“When you go onto the internet and search for UK Department for Business and Trade, you will access the growth gateway page where you will get information on trade, depending on what sector you are in. There’s even a page for Nigeria.

“In the area of standards , if you want to sell some products in the UK, there are safety standards you have to meet, and you will have a certification. Nigeria has its own certification.

“And Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) is working with UK standards organisation to reconcile standards or enable them to certify for the UK market to help ease trade,” he said .

Montgomery added that he was optimistic that the UK would do more trade in Nigeria because of the bold reforms by the Nigerian government.

He applauded the removal of the “crippling fuel subsidy”, tackling oil theft, getting oil revenues that manage the budget better, and also the foreign exchange reforms.

He said that those were critical in encouraging UK investors and banks to come back into the Nigerian market and do more trade, noting that the foreign exchange reforms were absolutely critical in this sense.

“You all know that the foreign exchange system in the past chased away investors because it is difficult to get your exchange done and you do not know whether you will be able to move money across borders.

” But the new exchange rates policy under this government and the very impressive Central Bank of Nigeria leadership team is making investors to say they can come back and invest in the country,” he said (NAN) (www.nan.ng)

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Edited by Benson Iziama/Emmanuel Yashim

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