Jonathan meets Pakistani President, pledges improved Nigeria-Pakistan relations

Nigeria and Pakistan bilateral trade is expected to rise from $100 million to about $1 billion in few years.

Nigeria and Pakistan on Tuesday signed agreements that will lead to the increase in bilateral trade which President Goodluck Jonathan says is expected to rise from less than $100 million to at least $1 billion in the next few years.

Briefing journalists after the meeting with the Pakistani President, Mamnoon Hussain, who is on a three days state visit to Nigeria, President Jonathan noted that despite the good relations between Nigeria and Pakistan, the volume of trade had remained relatively low at less than $100 million.

“Both countries have a high population and the two countries also have huge resources and if they work hand in hand they will improve the wealth of our people,” the president said. “Presently the trade relations between Nigeria and Pakistan in extremely low, but of course we are committed to doubling it in the next three years.”

President Jonathan accepted Mr. Hussain’s offer to visit Pakistan at a later date, and urged the foreign ministries, military delegations and other relevant agencies of both countries to exchange similar visits and deepen cooperation in all areas.
“In the next five years or so our target is that we should move from under $100 million to at least $1 billion. We are now out to encourage more robust trade relations,” he said.

“I will soon go to Pakistan on a state visit, our foreign, defence and trade ministers are also encouraged to be part of such visits. They have also developed in terms of defence, we are also developing.

“In the area of agriculture, Pakistan is doing well and of course you know that Nigeria too we are devoting attention to agriculture and now taking it as business; adding value to the agricultural value chain.

“We have discussed a number of issues and will continue to discuss more as we meet with the business group. The Pakistan President will also be in Lagos tomorrow to meet with Nigerian businessmen. We are doing all these things to improve our trade relations from under $100 million to at least $1billion” he said.

The agreements were signed after bilateral talks on Tuesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja between Mr. Jonathan and the Pakistani leader.

The bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding meant to deepen ties between Nigeria and Pakistan cover agricultural development, industrial cooperation, cultural exchanges and trade, chambers of commerce, narcotics, anti-terrorism and security, poverty reduction, and human capacity development.

President Jonathan further thanked Pakistan for supporting Nigeria’s position at several international organisations and fora like during her quest for the United Nations Non-Permanent Security Council seat. He pledged that Nigeria would reciprocate such gestures, especially as Pakistan also maintains good relations with other African countries.

President Jonathan described Mr. Hussain’s visit as historic and important given the fact that both countries are suffering the scourge of terror attacks, and with Nigerian government battling to rescue young schoolgirls recently abducted by terrorists in Chibok, Borno state.

“This is the first ever state visit by any Parkistan President, that is why we consider this visit extremely important,” he said.

“We have just had bilateral discussions along the corridor which examined issues of common interest. This is quite significant because just like Nigeria is suffering from terror attack, Pakistan is also experiencing terror attack. Just like we are still battling on how we would get our young girls from Chibok out from the hands of the terrorists.

In his remarks, the Pakistani President harped on the need to institutionalise the existing economic partnership, air services agreement, and exchange of prisoners, in addition to the agreements on oil and gas, education, dairy/agricultural and industrial development.

Mr. Hussain disclosed that he would on Wednesday open a Pakistan Commercial Station in Lagos to give fillip to the cooperation efforts, which would extend to enhancing counter-terrorism measures of both countries.

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