Nigeria, 37 others seal economic pact on investment, trade

Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah
Minister of Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah

Nigeria joined 37 other members and non-members of Friends of Investment Facilitation for Development, FIFD, to adopt a joint ministerial declaration on economic cooperation on investment facilitation.

The joint statement with the European Free Trade Association, EFTA, was sealed on the sidelines of the World Trade Organisation, WTO 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The EFTA-Nigeria declaration to be implemented by a joint Commission of both parties, is an instrument that allows both parties to develop a framework to facilitate increased trade and investment flows.

The areas of cooperation include trade in goods, customs and tariffs and trade facilitation, trade in services, investment, protection of intellectual property rights and enforcement, trade and sustainable development.

Others include digital economy and e-commerce, trade and investment related issues pertaining to small and medium-sized enterprises as well as any other areas of cooperation as mutually agreed by the parties involved.

Constance Ikokwu, spokesperson of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Invest, in a statement to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday said apart from representing Africa as Vice-chair the WTO Ministerial Conference, Nigeria was also a member of the EFTA.

The group also has Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland as members.

At the ceremony to adopt the statement, members called for the commencement of “structured discussions with the aim of developing a multilateral framework on investment facilitation.”

The FIFD statement reaffirmed its commitment to follow up on the Abuja Statement adopted earlier in November in Abuja during the High Level Forum on Trade and Investment Facilitation for Development co-hosted by Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS.

While calling for discussions that would identify and develop a framework for facilitating foreign direct investments; improved transparency; exchange of best practices; sharing of information; and speeding up administrative processes, the group pledged to continue its outreach to WTO members on trade and investment facilitation.

The adopted document explained that the discussion would, however, not address matters of market access, investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, who represented Africa by virtue of his position as Vice Chair of the Ministerial Conference, said he was happy to work with other countries in a way and manner that is mutually beneficial.

“We’re delighted to see the commitment of several countries on the issue of trade and investment,” Mr. Enelamah said.

“It is clear that these two are complementary. This is consistent with the Nigerian government’s Ease of Doing Business agenda and will help Nigeria create sorely needed jobs as well as improve productivity,” he added.

Director General of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations, Chiedu Osakwe, who is also Nigeria’s Chief Negotiator, said Nigeria has re-established itself on economic and trade policy leadership globally.

The envoy said Nigeria’s new global status followed its drive in Niamey, Niger last week, to bring the negotiations for the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area, CFTA agreement closer to reality.

The Nigerian delegation to the WTO included the Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Yemi Dipeolu; President of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA (Abuja Chapter), Kayode Adetokunbo and representatives of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council, NIPC, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC and the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.

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