The chairman, Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, Lord Marland of Odstock, has asked the UK government to make Nigeria one of its post-BREXIT trading ally.
Jonathan Marland who was speaking ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF), told The Telegraph of London that apart from Singapore and Malaysia, Nigeria offered some of the major investment opportunities for UK investors.
Nigeria is reputed to be the largest economy in Africa, while Commonwealth markets currently account for approximately 30 per cent of Nigeria’s exports.
Besides, Nigeria is Commonwealth’s fifth largest economy with a total GDP of about $480 billion, with India accounting for 15 per cent of Nigeria’s exports
Also, Nigeria and South Africa account for about 70 per cent of Commonwealth African trade
In 2015, Nigeria had a positive trade balance of $8.26 billion after exporting a total of $47.8 billion against imported $39.5 billion.
Britain is Nigeria’s second-largest trading partner, after South Africa, with the bilateral relationship worth around £3.8billion per year.
The CWEIC is an organisation facilitating trade and investment throughout the 53 states of the Commonwealth and supporting private sector companies and governments to promote economic activity.
“If the UK wants to initiate something, there are one or two really encouraging, optimistic places on the horizon to start a block for a commonwealth trade zone. You’ve got the big populations such as Nigeria, which is going to be 320 million people – bigger than the United States – in under 10 years. They love British products…It’s a huge consumer market. Fundamentally there is a lot of disposable wealth,” he added.
Asked which other products Nigerians were particularly keen to buy, he replied: “Everything.”
Mr. Marland said leaving the EU’s customs union was one of UK’s “great negotiating strengths,” as it would grant the freedom to stimulate trade by lowering tariffs and other trade barriers.
He said the benefits of doing so would extend beyond the Commonwealth as a potential free trade deal with Japan was already “worrying” German car manufacturers who rely on exports to the UK.
The CBF is expected to hold for the first time in 20 years alongside the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, CHOGM, scheduled for April 2018 in London.
Discussions would focus on easing the pathway for business and growth; harnessing Commonwealth technology and innovation; creating a new attitude to sustainable business; mobilizing an export economy, and attracting inward investment.
With the Commonwealth’s cumulative population at about 2.4 billion, the combined gross domestic product, GDP of the nations is expected to reach $14 trillion by 2020.
Intra-Commonwealth trade estimated to be worth $525 billion in 2015 is projected to surpass $1 trillion by 2020.
CWEIC said its ambition is to encourage and grow intra-Commonwealth trade and investment, and assist member organisations in developing high quality trade and investment opportunities.
The CBF would convene 800 senior business leaders with approximately 30 Heads of Government at three Central London venues.