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Nigeria, UK boost trade ties, eye new frontiers

Published by Guardian on Wed, 26 Sep 2012

TO boost bilateral and trade ties between United Kingdom and Nigeria, three British Permanent Secretaries, Simon Fraser, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Mark Lowcock, Department for International Development (DFID) and Tom Mckane, Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence have met with business leaders from the oil and gas, financial services, aviation, education, construction, manufacturing and consumer sectors.Hooman Nouruzi Press Secretary British High Commission Abuja, yesterday informed The Guardian that such a trilateral visit was rare and reserved for the United Kingdom's key international partners. The Permanent Secretaries, he said, would spend a day in Lagos and then move to Abuja.According to Nouruz, the permanent secretaries' visit comes one year after talks in Nigeria between President Goodluck Jonathan and the British Prime Minister, David Cameron.Both leaders agreed a communiqu, which identified the main areas of the bilateral co-operation and committed both sides to action going forward.The main purpose of the permanent secretaries' visit Nouruz said 'is to undertake a high level progress review of the Communiqu jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other Nigerian Ministries.'He added that the visiting permanent secretaries would also explore opportunities for further strengthening of the strategic partnership between the United Kingdom and Nigeria.'As part of efforts to enhance bilateral and trade relationship between United Kingdom and Nigeria, the visiting Permanent Secretaries met. Also present was Dr Christopher Kolade of the Lagos business school. A key issue for discussion at the meeting was how to further improve the trade partnership between the United Kingdom and Nigeria. Nigeria is the UK's second largest African market worth 1.5 bilion in 2011. British investment in Nigeria is in the region of 1billion.'Nouruz said Cameron and Jonathan agreed in their communiqu of 2011 to double bilateral trade by 2014.'The Permanent Secretaries then met with the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola. During the meeting, Governor Fashola noted the strength of the bilateral relationship and the importance of UK sponsored projects in Lagos State.'According to Nouruz, Fraser who commended Fashola on the positive economic, developmental and social impact he had had on Lagos and its surrounding areas, reiterated that promoting good governance was a key element of the UK's relationship with Nigeria.He said the permanent secretaries also visited sites and projects related to the Mega-city infrastructure development, private public partnerships on innovation, community policing and security as well as access to finance for Lagos citizens. Much of these projects, according to Nouruz have been funded by UK aid.
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