The Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, A.R Ghanashyan, has said that commencing a direct flight between Nigeria and India would boost trade relations between the two countries.
Mr. Ghanashyan disclosed this, Wednesday, during the monthly Diplomatic Dialogue Series organized by the Nigeria Leadership Initiative, NLI, in Lagos.
“The first we need to do between India and Nigeria if you want to improve tourism is to have a direct flight. We don’t have a direct flight, can you imagine this?
“The (second) largest trading partner of Nigeria in the world doesn’t have a direct connection. I’m working with Arik Air, hopefully they would be able to do something because at this moment we don’t have any Indian airline which is ready to come independently. To begin it, we start with a (Nigerian airline), work together, hopefully I’d be able to bring some speed to it in the near future.
“And once you have people moving easily, the agreement will also follow. We don’t have a double taxation and warrant agreement, we don’t have an investment protection agreement but still we are the largest employers after the federal government, imagine when we have these agreements what will happen to our relationship, it will just leapfrog,” Mr. Ghanashyan added.
While India is currently Nigeria’s second largest trading partner, Nigeria is India’s largest trading partner as well as export market in Africa.
The volume of trade between the two nations stood at US$19.5 billion in 2013, according to Mr. Ghanashyan, who added that the figure would rise this year despite Nigeria’s security challenges.
“It (bilateral trade) has nothing to do with what is happening in certain parts of Nigeria,” Mr. Ghanashyan said.
“In fact, those parts of Nigeria which have a bit of a problem now, they also need some assistance, we cannot stop interacting with some areas just because they have a problem today. They have been our partners in the past they will continue to be partners today they will continue to be partners in the future.
“In fact, our relationship is growing by the day, by the week, by the month, and by the year.
“And you don’t need new investments to come, what you already have is simply so much that you just need to rehabilitate and revive them. You don’t have to go in for a new marriage when you already have a very good looking and very smart wife.”
The Indian envoy also said that there is a plan to strengthen their investments in Nigeria which cut across power, education, information technology, agriculture, and health.
“You have standing models here. This is the only country where you have Indian companies run by Nigeria and Nigerians and Nigerian companies run by Indians. You will not find this relationship with any country. That’s peculiar and characteristic of Indian-Nigerian relationship,” Mr. Ghanashyan said.
On signing a treaty that would tackle the issue of multiple taxation on Indian companies in Nigeria, Mr. Ghanashyan said that he had been unable to arrange a meeting with the Nigerian government.
“That’s the job which I have been hoping to do ever since I came here and I need the assistance of the Ministry of Finance and the Minister of Finance,” he said.
“I’m hoping for the first occasion that I can sit with the Minister of Finance and start working on it. My requests are pending there. And my government is ready…
“In fact there was a delegation that was supposed to come first and they gave the date but the Ministry of Finance gave us a date which was too short a notice so our people had already planned another visit. So I’m working on it, they are going to come sooner than later, both government recognize the importance,” Mr. Ghanashyan added.
The Nigerian-Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, NICCI, was incorporated in 1992 to facilitate and promote trade, commerce, technology, and investment relations between the public and private sectors of Nigeria and India.
Uduimo Itsueli, NICCI’s Chairman, said that emerging economies must consolidate on trade relations between one another.
“You look at emerging economies. Nigeria is an emerging economy, India is an emerging economy, China is an emerging economy,” said Mr. Itsueli.
“And these are countries that if you look at projections yearly around the world over the next 30 years, the place of China, India and Nigeria… These are countries that will surpass the US economy for example. We should learn from that and start collaborating with countries that are placed in a similar manner with us, Nigeria, China, India, Turkey to some extent,” said Mr. Itsueli.
Yinka Oyinlola, Chief Executive Officer of NLI, said that the motivation for organizing the event was to foster better relationships not only with the countries of the north but also with the countries of the southern hemisphere.
“And for us there are key sectors based on what each country thinks is of strategic and national interest to them in Nigeria,” said Mr. Oyinlola.
“Our role is to bring people together, because in bringing people together we recognize the value of how relationships can be strengthened. Since we started this there have been interactions between Nigerian and Indian business people.
“Our role is to create a platform for greater engagement among Indians and Nigerians. It’s up to Nigerians and Nigeria to develop a relationship that will take it forward,” said Mr. Oyinlola.
Mr. Oyinlola noted that multiple taxation has been a hindrance to trade between Nigeria and India.
“It’s a shame that up till now at the policy level there is still a lot to be desired in terms of the relationship between the two countries,” he said.
“But it was raised and it was recognized by the president of the Nigeria-India Chamber of Commerce and Industry as one of the areas that at the policy level there need to be greater ties for better relations,” Mr. Oyinlola added.