With Covid-19 continuing to affect supply chains, trade and global investment flows, the United Kingdom and Nigeria authorities have pledged commitment towards keeping the flow of bilateral trade and maintain existing investments throughout the crisis as much as possible.
The two countries made the pledge during the third ministerial meeting of the UK-Nigeria Economic Development Forum (EDF) held via Video Conference.
Attended, by Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Adeniyi Adebayo and the UK’s Minister for International Trade, Rt. Ranil Jayawardena, the meeting highlighted critical barriers requiring prioritised action that could boost trade between the two countries.
Specifically, part of the trade-related priorities singled out for further discussion was the importance of maintaining the freedom of movement of goods, simplifying and automating import/export procedures in line with World Trade Organisation’s commitments to ease cross border trade and increase trade revenues.
Essentially, the need to boost Nigeria’s ability to take full advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade was advanced.
Nigeria’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Adeniyi Adebayo said, “Making our trade processes more efficient is a priority for us. Reducing the administrative bottlenecks, speeding up steps through technology and innovation is necessary if Nigeria is to meet the standards set by the WTO. Therefore, I am pleased, and look forward to, working with the UK to not only enhance our cross border trade methods but assist with identifying and bridging gaps to develop our Single window in accordance to global standards.”
On his part, the UK Minister for International Trade Ranil Jayawardena gave assurance of the UK Government’s commitment to helping reduce poverty through trade and technical assistance. He commended the move made by the Nigeria Minister of industry, trade and investment to dialogue with UK business leaders, and take stock of the challenges limiting their ability to effectively play their role in reaction to the pandemic.
Ranil Jayawardena said, ‘The coronavirus pandemic highlights just how important it is to keep trade flowing and supply chains open so we can all have the essential supplies we need in this difficult time.”
He disclosed that as part of efforts aimed at keeping trade flowing, the UK has announced its Global Tariff policy stressing that through the UK Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), Nigeria will continue to benefit from preferential access to the UK market to support trade.
He also emphasised the role of the private sector in shaping the economic landscape in the days ahead noting that the critical service export finance has presented a means of maintaining the flow of goods and services.
“The UK’s Export Finance agency (UKEF) currently has a £1 billion market risk appetite for Nigeria that has remained largely untapped, and both Ministers used the forum to discuss the possibilities of leveraging the fund for Nigeria.”
The Guardian gathered the UK has been supporting Nigeria towards better trade efficacy, especially meeting the trade facilitation requirements set by the World Trade Organisation through several projects, offering technical assistance and capacity building to develop expertise in local talents as well as assisted with drafting the National Quality Policy and stood ready to support its implementation.
Both countries have also agreed to sustain this valuable dialogue twice a year and committed to hosting quarterly business meetings with selected leaders of top British and Nigerian companies to identify and respond to challenges and opportunities in doing business with each other.