In a bid to increase export capacity and support direct investment flows, the Commonwealth of Nations has vowed to support the Nigerian government to attract the right trade and investment opportunities needed to achieve economic growth and development.
Director General, Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, Mr. Oliver Everett explained that Nigeria must find ways to address its ease of doing business in the country, noting that it is critical to the nation’s trade and investment activities.
Everett during a dialogue session organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) to discuss Nigeria foreign policy and international trade relations, said “Investments must find it easy to come into the country and also ensure that they get return on their investments in and out with simplicity. Nigeria needs to address its energy challenges, because if the energy is not secured, if the costs are not secured, then investors may not likely to come,” he said.
”We will very happy to help as a commonwealth in anything that involves trade and investments. In all areas, I want to wish Nigerians the best in all endeavours,” he added.
He added that Nigeria needs to keep the country open for business to solve its infrastructural issues, maintaining that the country must also ensure that there is healthy competition and good trade to solve some of its economic challenges.
Also speaking at the event, the Governor, Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, said the Lagos State government is committed to building on the current goodwill and confidence by putting in place policies which will ease the process of doing business in Lagos, stressing that the Lagos State government will do its best to make the business environment safe and profitable for investors, saying that it has identified critical areas. Including infrastructural development, security, an efficient public service as well as the rule of law as key issues to be accorded utmost attention.
He said his administration has taken a major step by establishing the Office of Overseas Affairs and Investment called Lagos Global, to serve as a one-stop shop through which investors and business owners can relate with the State government.
“With this office, we hope to strengthen existing relationships and provide a platform for the exchange of ideas,” he added.
He pointed out that the goal of providing job opportunities for the State’s teeming unemployed youths is hinged on a strong and vibrant economy driven by the private sector.
The President, LCCI, Alhaji Remi Bello said there is a strong nexus between the policy of a country and its trade and investment relations, saying that this is against the backdrop of the increasing globalisation of economies around the world which has resulted in the increasing interdependence among countries.
He added that the economic interest of a country should be a principal factor in shaping its foreign policy.
“It is imperative that we get this alignment right. We also believe that there is a great deal to the benefit from the promotion of global trade,” he said.
He however called for domestic policies to be strengthened to ensure that domestic private sector take advantage of the foreign policy benefits.
“We are in a new political dispensation in Nigeria. We have a fresh opportunity to get. Our foreign policy right in order to advance the frontiers of our economic development. We need a strong economy to support a respectable foreign policy and vice versa,” he added.
The professor of international law and chair, office of international relations, University of Lagos, Professor. Akin Oyebode, said foreign policy is a matter in constant flux as a result of the inexorable process of change in world affairs, adding the worsening scenario Nigeria is experiencing today, gives the nation no choice than that of individual self-reliance, cooperation and collaboration with new trade and financial arrangements being proffered by China.
“South-South cooperation should, therefore, be intensified since if we do not hang together, we are most likely to be hanged separately,” he said.
He pointed out that Nigeria with a population of over 100 million people is poised to play an increasingly important role in the scheme of things globally.
He noted that Nigeria can quite definitely enjoy a more visible profile internationally if it can get its acts together by strengthening its industrial production base, spiral up its power generation capacity, enhance its transmission and distribution capability and close the gap between material production and consumption.
“In short, Nigeria would need to narrow the gap between it and the industrialised world before it can seriously manifest an intention to ensure that its foreign policy impacts its trade relations,” he stressed.