Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari says Commonwealth countries can improve business within the group and generate resources for sustainable development by facilitating trade and investment in their individual countries.
The president gave the advice in his keynote address at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London on Wednesday, a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday showed.
Mr Buhari spoke on the need to improve ease of doing business, regional integration that expands markets with safeguards against injurious trade practices from third parties; more inclusive growth with the empowerment of women and the youth; and provision of a platform for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
He also called for radical expansion of human capital for the 21st Century, provision of hard and software infrastructure for the 21st Century digital economy to boost e-commerce, increased efficiency, solving of development problems and enhancing cyber security.
Mr. Buhari said Nigeria has already started championing the cause by hosting the High-Level Trade and Investment Facilitation Forum for Development in November 2017 in Abuja, in partnership with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
“To underscore Nigeria’s commitment to spreading prosperity throughout the Commonwealth, in the past six months, Nigeria Co-Chaired with the United Kingdom, the ‘UK All-Parliamentary Group for Trade out of Poverty’ (APPG-TOP). The Report of this Commonwealth Inquiry Report was launched on 3rd April, 2018.
“Nigeria affirms its commitment to the principal message from this Commonwealth Inquiry Group that Nigeria co-chaired with the UK. The surest, most sustainable way to lift millions of people out of poverty across the Commonwealth is through boosting trade and investment.
“We believe that, we, as leaders in the Commonwealth, should grasp the opportunity and agree a major new focus on trade and investment for inclusive development,” the President
Mr. Buhari further referred to the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ Report published in November 2017 where in Nigeria moved up 24 places and was recognised as one of the top 10 most improved economies in the world, as evidence that Nigeria’s efforts have not been futile.
“In developing countries, labour and industry are concerned about distortions in trade policies that result in subsidised products which have contributed to exports dumped in developing economies. These have had bad effects in the form of job losses.
“Growth is not yet inclusive and remains elusive. There are downside risks about disruptions to trade and investment. Global and regional markets have been considerably rattled by the risks of trade wars. Concerns over climate change are unabated and are increasing. There are tasks and duties on all sides,” he said.
Going beyond the Commonwealth, the president said trade wars have to be avoided in order for countries to work collectively to preserve the global trading order.
“But if we are to make business easier between our countries and going beyond the Commonwealth, we must avoid trade wars and work collectively to preserve the global trading order, support regional initiatives as well as support domestic structural reforms that focus on the priorities of individual countries
“If there is a collective Commonwealth Commitment to the Ease of Doing Business, we shall spur growth, multiply wealth and expand employment opportunities. These objectives will be accelerated by trade and investment facilitation,” he said.
He used the opportunity to call on the Commonwealth Business Forum and prospective investors in the Nigerian economy to participate in the 2018 “UK/Nigeria Trade and Investment Forum” at the London Stock Exchange.